June 3rd, 2007
Defending Rally America National Champion Travis Pastrana drove his 2007 Subaru Impreza WRX STI rally car to a 3rd Overall finish at the Susquehannock Trail Performance Rally (STPR) this weekend. A tire puncture and an engine misfire prevented him from battling for an overall victory, but the strong points finish moves him up into a tie for 3rd Overall in the Rally America National Championship standings.
The high-speed classic known as STPR, now in its 31st running, takes place in north central Pennsylvania on smooth, flowing gravel and clay-based roads. STPR is one of the fastest Rally America events, but the roads are narrow and lined with trees, making the event notoriously dangerous. The event’s famed “Subaru Splash” water crossing early in the rally continues to dazzle masses of spectators each year.
Pastrana and his co-driver Christian Edstrom were slowed early in the rally by a flat tire and an engine misfire attributed to the wrong fuel being provided by a local fuel supplier. A handful of other teams were affected as well, with numerous engine problems being reported. “We didn’t have a clean run this weekend, so I’m happy to have finished on the podium and get some points,” explained Pastrana. “We felt good in the car and we were going to attack late in the rally to fight for a win, but my engine never really recovered from the bad fuel so we decided to play it safe and just finish.” Pastrana now sits in a tie for 3rd Overall in the 2007 Rally America National Championship standings with four rounds to go.
Pastrana’s teammate Ken Block faired much worse and nearly didn’t start the rally. On the shakedown stage, the day prior to the rally start, Block hit a tree heavily on the right rear passenger door of his rally car. Block’s Subaru was too heavily damaged to compete the following morning and the decision was made to transport a spare car from Subaru Rally Team USA’s headquarters, 300 miles away in Colchester, Vermont. Arriving in the middle of the night was the 2006 Subaru Impreza WRX STI Block used for his famous 171ft jump for the Discovery Channel show ‘Stunt Junkies’ late last year. The car however was far from competition ready and upon its arrival the Subaru Rally Team USA mechanics worked through the night and into the morning to prepare it. Meanwhile, co-driver Alex Gelsomino felt he may have suffered a mild concussion in the impact and decided sit out the rally on safety grounds. In Gelsomino’s place would sit the team’s Sporting Adviser and 11-time US rally champion John Buffum!
However, the night’s hard work would be for naught, as Block and Buffum stopped on the second stage due to a mechanical problem with the stand-in rally car. “I’m really glad we are OK after our accident yesterday, and amazed at what the team was able to put together for me overnight,” said Block. “I’m disappointed I couldn’t run the whole rally with John Buffum, he has been a great mentor to Travis and I and it would have been good fun to drive with him at my side!”
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