March 8th, 2006
Subaru Rally Team USA drivers Travis Pastrana and Ken Block have successfully completed the reconnaissance portion of the Corona Rally Mexico, round 3 of the World Rally Championship. The team performed two days of reconnaissance (recce) in order to develop their skills at creating pace notes. This also gave the duo the opportunity to look at the Mexican stages which they plan to compete on next year. The American team, run by Vermont SportsCar, is exploring a possible entry in the Production Car World Rally Championship (PCWRC) in 2007.
The two drivers have little experience with pace notes because their Rally America National Championship events supply identical stage notes to all competitors. Therefore, this trip to Mexico represented an important learning experience towards developing the skills necessary to successfully compete in the WRC. To accelerate the learning process, the team brought with them expert WRC co-driver Jakke Honkanen, who runs a highly respected rally co-driver school in Finland. Honkanen, along with US rally legend John Buffum spent the entire week with Pastrana and Block along with their co-drivers Christian Edstrom and Alex Gelsomino, ensuring they got the most out of their time spent in Mexico. “Without those two, we would not have learned half as fast as we did. They both helped us in learning all the intricacies of the notes and how to make the best notes for many different conditions,” explained Pastrana. “And, now that we know the notes inside and out, it should make us even better drivers.”
In addition to the recce, both Pastrana and Block attended PR/media functions for Subaru, spent time with Subaru World Rally Team drivers Petter Solberg and Chris Atkinson, and had the chance to meet drivers and crews from many of the other WRC teams competing in Mexico. “From the reception we got, it’s fairly obvious that the WRC community pays a lot of attention to the Rally America National Championship! Most everyone we met was very knowledgeable of Travis and I, and many even knew that I had won the 100 Acre Wood rally the weekend before,” said Ken Block. “Travis’ popularity was also very prevalent; he signed a lot of autographs and was noticed a lot by the local fans while he was out spectating.”
Pastrana, the 22 year old X-Games star turned rally driver, has shown considerable promise behind the wheel of his Subaru thus far. In 2004 he finished his first-ever gravel rally in 4th overall and completed a near full season of national rallying in 2005 with several podium finishes and numerous stage wins against strong competition in the Rally America National Championship. Most recently he finished 2nd Overall at Round 1 of the 2006 Rally America National Championship, the SnoDrift Rally, winning more stages than any other competitor.
Pastrana and Block, the “2005 Rally America Rookie of the Year”, are competing in all nine rounds of the 2006 Rally America National Championship driving 2006 Subaru WRX STI rally cars in the “Open Class”. Subaru Rally Team USA hopes to groom Pastrana for an eventual entry into the World Rally Championship.
Subaru Rally Team USA is the factory rally team of Subaru of America, Inc. and proudly supported by DC Shoes, STI (Subaru Tecnica International), SPT (Subaru Performance Tuning), PIAA, MOTUL, RECARO and Alpinestars.
Visit www.rally.subaru.com for photo galleries and news regarding Subaru Rally Team USA.