August 7th, 2007
Subaru Rally Team USA drivers Ken Block and Travis Pastrana have won Silver and Bronze medals respectively in the X Games 13 Rally Car Super Special event. Block, driving his BFGoodrich Tires-shod 2007 Subaru Impreza WRX STI missed out on the Gold by a mere 0.68 seconds to fellow Subaru Impreza WRX STI driver Tanner Foust in front of a sell-out crowd at the Home Depot Center soccer stadium in Los Angeles. Pastrana, the X Games hero and defending Gold medalist was forced to accept the Bronze in his semi-final heat against Foust, when he crossed over into Foust’s lane while leading at the finish.
ESPN’s X Games 13, the annual action sports extravaganza which has vaulted a variety of sports to the mainstream, kicked off late last week with Freestyle Motocross, Skateboarding and BMX competitions. The final event of the weekend was the return of the Rally Car Super Special, returning after its debut in 2006 where Pastrana took home gold after World Rally legend Colin McRae rolled on the final jump. This year’s edition of the event featured one wild finish after another, captivating the sell-out crowd and the millions watching from home Live on ABC television . The twelve invited rally teams competed on a head-to-head course incorporating a combination of tarmac and dirt at the Home Depot Center stadium and a larger than life 70-ft dirt jump in the middle of the stadium! The format included elimination rounds, with the winner advancing and the loser eliminated.
The highly anticipated return of 1995 World Rally Champion Colin McRae ended in spectacular fashion when he clipped a barrier earlier in his semi-final match-up against teammate Ken Block, subsequently knocking down the water-filled barrier and riding up and over it, causing his Subaru to roll over and become stuck on another barrier. “I overcooked the corner,” sighed McRae, seemingly in disbelief. “I hit the hand-brake and slid, just touching the barrier. We caught the barrier with the rear and it pulled the front end. There was a gap in the rails, so the front-end just plowed into the next barrier, pushing it along. Then the only option was to try and push it out of the way but the car rode onto it and then it flipped over the top of it. It all happened quickly.”
Although losing that matchup, McRae and co-driver Carolyn Bosley had hoped to make a run for the bronze medal, patiently waiting for a trio of Vermont SportsCar mechanics to repair their car to continue into the next round . “The car is straight, it just has bad panel damage,” offered McRae. “The problem is the broken windscreen. They might not let us run again.” He had it right as the X Games officials would not allow McRae to continue due to the shattered windshield, ending the Scot’s day.
The most exciting race of the Summer X Games 13 Rally Car Racing Super Special was between 2006 Gold medal winner Travis Pastrana and Hollywood stunt driver and Rally America competitor Tanner Foust. It all came down to the very last corner, the two cars banging off one another. Pastrana crossed the finish line first, but was disqualified for crossing over into Tanner’s lane. The crowd and the SRT USA team members erupted in celebration at Pastrana’s victory before hearing minutes later that race officials would disqualify Pastrana for the crossing into Foust’s lane. “I was really happy with how we drove, and our Subaru and BFGoodrich Tires were amazing,” he said in the paddock, bent and bruised rally cars everywhere. “Look at these cars. It was demolition derby out there. I drove my best and still crossed the line first. It was the wrong line, though! But they made the right call. It made for a good show I bet, but after winning the Gold last year, taking home Bronze this time around is hard to swallow.”
The Gold medal match up was then solidified as Block versus Foust. After both drivers completed the first half of the course Block had a small but seemingly solid lead, but Foust pushed hard on the final sections while Block miss-shifted, causing him to lose time as they approached the finish. Foust surged ahead of Block as they crossed the line, just 0.68 seconds apart. Block, co-founder of the DC Shoes brand and multi-time Rally America series event winner, was gracious in defeat. “I just made a couple little shifting mistakes and that’s all it takes on a small course like this,” lamented the Californian. “I’m really disappointed I wasn’t able to beat him, but Tanner is a great driver and we had a good battle and I look forward to next year. I’ve got a Bronze from last year and a Silver this year, so next year it has to be Gold.”
The fourth Subaru entry of Boris Said, the NASCAR ace and last minute “at-large” guest invitee to the X Games Rally Car event had the cards stacked against him from the start. His NASCAR commitments had him in Montreal all week, where he nearly won the inaugural Busch event there only to have his engine fail in the closing laps. Rushing to board a jet with just six minutes to spare, Said headed across the country overnight for Los Angeles where he arrived at nearly 2:00 AM , just hours prior the the X Games Rally start. After being absent from the two practice sessions on Thursday and Friday, Said was looking forward to nearly four hours of Sunday morning practice on the schedule. However problems with building the X Games Rally course overnight in the Home Depot Center stadium delayed and all but canceled practice, giving Said just one practice lap on a course he had never seen and in a car he has never competed! Saids’ co-driver, US rally legend John Buffum coached Said as best he could on the details of the course and the handling traits of the car. Said was paired first against eight-time US Rally Champion Paul Choiniere in the first qualifying heat, who pulled ahead on the 2nd half of the course to best Said and end his day early.
Subaru Rally Team USA is proudly supported by Subaru of America, SubaruTecnica International (STI), Subaru Performance Tuning (SPT), DC Shoes, BFGoodrich Tires, Boost Mobile, Recaro, Alpinestars, Motul, Exedy, PIAA and Vermont SportsCar. Visit www.subaru.com/ rally for X Games 13 photo galleries, team blogs, news and further team information.