The Missouri license plate calls it the “Show Me State.” Ken Block proved that is the case this weekend, as all one has to do to learn how to race in the Rally of the 100 Acre Woods is watch him behind the wheel.
Subaru Rally Team USA driver Block has won the Rally America event every time since 2006.
This high-speed flowing event is well-matched to Block’s flat-out approach. Block and co-driver Alex Gelsomino have now won this event in southern Missouri four times in a row. The rally took place through the Ozark foothills of southern Missouri. The smooth gravel course sees some of the highest speeds in the series.
“I love the flow of the stages of this event,” said Block at the finish. “I love the high speeds.”
Defending Rally America Champion and Block’s teammate Travis Pastrana suffered a rollover on Day One after a strong start. He and co-driver Christian Edstrom were unharmed, but their rally was over. Pastrana had stated that he was ready to win or crash trying to keep Block out of the top spot.
The weather, as usual, played a big part of the event. Friday’s warm temperatures that met the competitors at the Friday turned cold and blinding snow at the finish line. The conditions deteriorated so much that the final stage was dropped after it was deemed impassable.
Andrew Comrie-Picard finished in second place, 43.1 seconds behind, in his NOS Energy Drink Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX after a close contest with Tanner Foust in his new Rockstar Energy Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X.
“I feel awesome,” said Comrie-Picard. “The car was perfect and our Yokohama winter tires gave us an edge when the snow started coming down.”
Foust and co-driver Chrissie Beavis were just behind by just a tenth of a second, but the gap extended as the weather worsened during the final stages of the contest. Debuting their new Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X, Foust let it be known that he was able to pick up the pace as he adjusted to the new car.
“It’s good to be on the podium,” said Tanner. “The car has great potential.”
This news adds to the optimism that this year’s edition of America’s premier rally championship will be one for the highlight reel. Two rounds into the Rally America Championship, Comrie-Picard and Foust are now tied for the championship lead.
“It’s really exciting to be at the top of the points with Tanner. I’m really enthusiastic for this season,” said Comrie-Picard.
In fourth place overall were Bill Bacon and co-driver Peter Watt in their Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX, while Polish driver Andi Mancin and co-driver Maciej Wislawski rounded out the top five.
Matt Johnson and co-driver Jeremy Wimpey took the win in the new Super Production class, with a finish of sixth place overall in their Subaru WRX.
“I love this event, it’s awesome,” said Johnson. “You just put the hammer down and hang on.”
Johnson had pulled ahead of Dave Mirra and co-driver Derek Ringer in their Subaru Rally Team USA Subaru WRX for the class win on the second day of the contest. Mirra and Ringer started strong, even running as high as third place overall early in the rally.
The two-wheel drive win went to Burak Tuglu and co-driver Carrie Wilburn in their 2001 Ford Focus.
Rally America championship next moves west to Washington State for the Olympus Rally, April 18-19.