Subaru Rally Team USA Takes Gold in Dramatic X Games 14 Rally

Subaru Rally Team USA (SRT USA) driver Travis Pastrana drove away with his ninth career X Games gold medal after winning the spectacular and drama-filled Rally Super Special event at X Games 14 in Los Angeles, Ca. The 23 year-old, two-time defending Rally America National Champion won each of the bracket racing-style rounds of the event in his 2008 Subaru Impreza WRX STI on the mixed-surface stadium rally stage to eventually beat last year’s gold medalist Tanner Foust by over 2 seconds in the finals. Pastrana’s other Subaru teammates of Ken Block and BMX legend Dave Mirra were each awarded Bronze medals. For the third straight year the X Games Rally podium was swept by Subaru WRX STI rally cars in front of thousands at the Home Depot Center and a live television audience.

“I’m so relieved to have won Gold in rally! It was such an unbelievable race with so much action, I just tried not to make any mistakes and I think that made the difference. I’m already looking forward to defending my title next year,” exclaimed an ecstatic Pastrana as he was awarded the Gold medal.

The #199 SRT USA driver was teamed with stand-in co-driver Carolyn Bosley after Pastrana’s intended X Games Rally co-driver and close personal friend Jim DeChamp injured his back while attempting the first ever front-flip at Thursday’s Moto X Best Trick competition. Bosley served as the co-driver for the late Colin McRae at last year’s X Games Rally. McRae, a legend in rally car racing as well as hero and friend to Pastrana, died in a helicopter crash last September. Pastrana and Bosley dedicated their win this weekend to McRae.

The biggest surprise performance of the event came from BMX legend and rookie rally driver Dave Mirra and co-driver Alex Kihurani. Mirra earned an “at-large” entry to the X Games 14 Rally after starting his rally career in late 2007 and entering several rallies in the US and Canada this season. Mirra’s biggest test came in the opening qualifying round where he was paired against two-time defending Canadian National Champion Antoine L’Estage. In a close fought race where neither driver made any major mistakes, it was Mirra who pulled off the upset, beating the Canadian Champ and moving on to the next round.

Set to be another challenging round, Mirra found himself up against Andrew Comrie-Picard, another leading Canadian rally driver. However, Comrie-Picard came up short on the large dirt jump on the stadium floor and flipped his car end-over-end in spectacular fashion. At nearly the same time however Mirra slid wide into a concrete wall and damaged the steering on his 2007 Subaru Impreza WRX STI. With the stadium crowd on their feet urging him on, Mirra struggled through the remainder of the course to cross the finish line and progress on to the next round.

Mirra’s Cinderella story would end shortly after the start of his head-to-head round with defending rally car gold medalist Tanner Foust. After completing the first loop neck-and-neck with Foust, Mirra landed heavily on the large 70ft dirt gap jump in the stadium, momentarily losing control of the car and careening head-on into a cement barrier alongside of the landing area.

“Just to be here in at the X Games Rally against these great drivers means so much to me. Winning my qualifying round was really my only goal here, everything after that was just a bonus!” said Mirra. “I’ve just got started with rally and it’s been great so far, it’s an amazing sport and the X Games is really just a taste of how wild and challenging this sport can be.”

Subaru Rally Team USA driver Ken Block and co-driver Alex Gelsomino also experienced difficulty on the large dirt jump. In his quarter-final victory against Matthew Johnson, Block’s Subaru landed heavily on its nose, destroying the radiator. Block’s crew of three Subaru Rally Team USA mechanics worked feverishly to repair as much of the damage as time allowed and sent Block’s overheating car to the starting line for his semi-final round against Pastrana with just seconds to spare. However, upon reaching the start line, a 3-minute delay to accommodate a television commercial break forced Block to turn off his motor to avoid further overheating. To Block’s dismay the damage to the car’s engine was more extensive than initially thought which left him unable to re-fire the motor, handing Pastrana the round win.

Block was eligible to race teammate Mirra for the bronze medal but as neither car could answer the call for the bronze medal race, the Race Director declared the bronze race a tie per the race rules and both Mirra and Block would share the bronze medal.

“This is the third consecutive Subaru podium sweep in as many years that rally has been a part of X Games,” noted James Han, Motorsports Marketing Manager for Subaru of America, Inc. “Running the finals against Tanner [Foust] who was so determined to repeat his X Games win from last year, Travis really put in a brilliant drive and showcased the performance of our all-new 2008 Subaru Impreza WRX STI. Incredibly, our team has only just scratched the surface in car development as the potential of the 2008 model is fairly substantial.”

Irishman Niall McShea, the 2004 Production World Rally Champion, missed his chance at the podium when he damaged his Subaru in the qualifying round. McShea, driving a Vermont SportsCar-prepared 2008 Subaru Impreza WRX STI was a strong favorite to win the Gold as his speed and smooth driving impressed drivers and spectators alike at practice sessions earlier in the week. Entering the stadium on his final lap with an immense lead, McShea clipped the corner of a cement barrier, nearly ripping off the front right wheel and terminally damaging the steering on his Subaru.

Subaru Rally Team USA is proudly supported by Subaru of America, Subaru Tecnica International (STI), Subaru Performance Tuning (SPT), DC Shoes, BFGoodrich Tires, Boost Mobile, Recaro, Alpinestars, Motul, Exedy, GReddy, PIAA and Vermont SportsCar. For team news and information please visit www.subaru.com/rally





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Photography: Lars Gange - rally.subaru.com