Travis Pastrana Takes Over Rally Championship Lead at Southern Ohio
Subaru Motorsports USA driver Travis Pastrana and co-driver Rhianon Gelsomino took the lead in the American Rally Association (ARA) championship race with a second-place finish at Southern Ohio Forest Rally plus a five-point bonus on the Power Stage. The defending 2021 ARA champions now hold a six-point lead over teammates Brandon Semenuk and Keaton Williams and a nine-point margin to longtime rivals Ken Block and Alex Gelsomino.
The fifth event of the nine-round ARA season, Southern Ohio presented a unique challenge with tight, technical stage roads and a mix of gravel and tarmac surfaces. The event began with a Thursday night super special followed by two full days of stages in the Ohio forests, including SS16 designated as the Power Stage.
Semenuk and Williams drew first position on the road and were forced to sweep the surface on Friday, hurting their pace and dropping them to third after the early stages. A spin on SS4 dropped them further back and would leave the race for the lead to Pastrana and Block. With a win on the Thursday super special and seven of the eight stages on Friday, Block jumped out to a 33-second lead going into the final day of the rally. Pastrana and Gelsomino struck back on Saturday with three stage wins out of five in the opening loop, but a pair of stage victories for Block helped maintain the bulk of his lead going into the final five-stage loop on Saturday
The SS16 Power Stage proved feast and famine for the blue and gold WRX STI’s, as Pastrana picked up his second straight 5-point bonus for the stage win but Semenuk sustained rear suspension damage that ended his rally. With the retirement, the #180 crew relinquished the championship lead to their teammates, who would be unable to catch Block and Gelsomino for the event win but earned 22 critical points, the best haul of the season for the defending champions and enough to carry the lead at the midway point of the season.
Subaru Motorsports USA will return to the rally stages at New England Forest Rally, July 15-16.