June 23rd, 2006
Rally newcomer Travis Pastrana finished 3rd in Class at the rally portion of the famed Pikes Peak Hillclimb in his Vermont SportsCar prepared Subaru WRX STi rally car. Pastrana’s teammate, DC Shoes Co-founder Ken Block, finished just behind Travis and 4th in Class. It was Block’s first time on the famed mountain in an event where
experience is paramount.
The 12.4 mile, 156 turn climb to the 14,200 ft summit of Pikes Peak is one of the most revered challenges in the eyes of motorsports fans and drivers around the World. The high speed ribbon of road changes from asphalt to hard packed gravel as it climbs over 4,000 vertical feet to the cold and windy summit above the clouds.
The teams entered in the Rally America portion of the event ran a total of 50 miles of competition on the hill over the course of three days and seven stages. The stages all took place on shorter sections of the Pikes Peak toll road, including some paved lower sections of the road that are not used during Saturday’s main event.
These lower paved sections caused the most difficulty for Travis and Ken early in the event where they lost time due to lack of experience on paved roads. “Travis and I have never driven our rally cars on a smooth tarmac road like this and it was tough to know what our Michelin tires and the car could really do,” explained Ken Block. “After each stage we got a bit better but I don’t think we ever were using the car and tires to their full potential, we just didn’t know where the limit was.”
At the conclusion of the week’s stages Ken and Travis sat comfortably in 3rd and 4th positions in their class, but were out of reach of the top two spots.
Jockeying for overall lead in Group N were former World Rally Champion Stig Blomquist and defending USA and Canadian rally champ Pat Richard. Understandably Travis and Ken had some difficulty matching these two veteran’s speed while they battled for the lead.
Ken and Travis sought to then keep their position in the rally and drove to the finish without incident on Saturday’s main event, the 12.4 mile run to the summit. “I’m glad I made it to the top but even happier about finishing the rally portion of the event, I’ve learned a lot and had a great time,” said Pastrana.
The strong points finish moves Ken and Travis into 3rd and 4th in the Group N standings of the 2005 Rally AmericaChampionship. They head next to the rocky logging roads of the Maine Forest Rally, July 28-29.