October 20th, 2008
Subaru Rally Team USA driver Ken Block has won the 2008 Lake Superior Performance Rally (LSPR) in dominating fashion, winning by over one minute after leading from the start. The victory at LSPR, the 9th and final round of the 2008 Rally America National Championship, lifts Block to a 2nd place overall finish in the championship. His Subaru teammate, Travis Pastrana, who mathematically secured his 3rd straight Rally America National Championship at the previous round, finished 3rd overall. LSPR concludes another banner year for SRT USA with wins at six of nine events plus team drivers Pastrana and Block finishing 1st and 2nd, respectively, in the Rally America National Championship.
The Lake Superior Performance Rally is revered by rally drivers for its difficult conditions, which typically include high speeds on tree-lined roads with highly variable weather. The rally covered over 123 miles of competitive special stages along the northern tip of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
Ken Block and his co-driver Alex Gelsomino entered LSPR locked in a battle for 2nd Overall in the championship with young privateer Subaru driver Kyle Sarasin and top Canadian driver Andrew Comrie-Picard. Block’s season has been one of ups and downs; after a strong start to 2008 with multiple wins he then experienced a string of poor results and misfortune which helped Pastrana take control of the Rally America Championship. At LSPR, Block and his co-driver Alex Gelsomino returned to form and were virtually untouchable in their 2008 Subaru Impreza WRX STI. Block jumped into the lead on the first stage and went on to win an impressive 11 of 17 stages, gapping his closest rival by over a minute.
“I’m glad to end the season with the win. Now I’ve got some momentum going into next year, so I’m very happy,” said Block. “It’s great for the team to finish 1-2 in the Championship, and we have proven the new 2008 STI can win, next year it will only get better.”
After mathematically securing the championship at the previous round in Colorado, Pastrana entered LSPR with little pressure to win. To further his development, Pastrana requested American rally legend John Buffum co-drive for him at this final Rally America round. Buffum is the most successful American rally driver of all time, with 11 championship titles to his name and over 120 rally wins. Starting 3rd on the road, the duo were slowed by heavy dust as well as a tire puncture early in the event. Pastrana settled for third overall while Block and Sarasin continued to push each other for the overall victory.
“I had the pleasure of teaming up with rally legend John Buffum. I think he has forgotten more about rally than I will ever know! It was amazing just having him in the car,” explained Pastrana. “Although we weren’t fighting for the win, it’s impossible to not have fun on these Michigan roads.”
The 2009 Rally America National Championship schedule is currently available in the Rally News section of the sanctioning body homepage located at www.rally-america.com
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