Rally America: Travis Pastrana wins 2009 New England Forest Rally

Tony CastaneiraAnalyst IJuly 19, 2009

Travis Pastrana was handed his fourth win of the season at the New England Forest Rally Saturday by his teammate, to extend his lead in the Rally America national championship.

Subaru Rally Team USA's Pastrana entered Round 6 with a 21-point lead and said his strategy from the start was to avoid taking unnecessary risks and get his car to the finish in one piece.

The roads on this event are generally wide and fast, but strewn with massive rocks that can do big damage to competition cars.

"It's hard to know you've got that little more speed in reserve and not use it, but it's that little more that can get you," he said. "We weren't the fastest here this weekend, but I'll take the win however I can get it."

Finishing in one piece was essential because they have a short turn-around before heading across the country to compete in the X-Games.

Pastrana’s Subaru Rally Team USA teammate Ken Block set a blistering pace at the start, but spun early Saturday afternoon, losing more than 20 seconds.

Then Block had a tire puncture which prevented him from making up for lost time in the final stages of the day. So a frustrated Block had to settle for second-place overall.

"It's extremely frustrating," said Block at the finish. "I put myself in the right position to win, and it didn't work out for us."

Despite the disappointing result, Block moves into second place in the Rally America National Championship, behind teammate Pastrana.

Canadian Antoine L'Estage lost time to a power steering failure in his Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X.  This dropped him from out of the running for a win in the event but he managed to nurse the car to a third place finish.

"It's good to taste champagne again, but I really wanted to win," said L'Estage after the ceremonial champagne spray. "I thought this morning we had a shot at it."

L'Estage is developing a new Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X that was debuted by Tanner Foust earlier this season under a sharing deal.

They haven’t had much luck with the car so far, dealing with the problems that are typical with a new rally car. But he is confident that the car has potential and he's looking forward to the next round.

Bill Bacon finished in fourth place, and Art Gruszka rounded out the top five.

Roman Pakos took the Super Production class win in a Subaru STi, while John Conley and Keith Rudolph took the two-wheel drive win in their 2003 Dodge SRT-4.

Typically, attrition claimed a number of contenders including Subaru Rally Team USA's Dave Mirra, who dropped out with engine trouble on Saturday, while Andi Mancin retired after Day 1, apparently with engine issues as well.

The MaxAttack! two-wheel drive competition was furious this weekend, with more than two dozen drivers running in the class. Chris Duplessis and Catherine Woods set the fastest two-wheel drive times in their 1990 Volkswagen GTi during the weekend.

The most interesting entry was Lucy Block and Chrissie Beavis in a Volkswagen Golf. Block is married to Subaru Rally Team USA driver Ken Block and Chrissie Beavis is a regular championship co-driver for Tanner Foust and competes in California as a driver in the regional series.

The duo swapped driving and co-driving duties over the weekend.  This was Lucy’s first ever event as a competitor.

Two of the bigger names in the Rally America Championship were missing from The New England Forest Rally.  Open class drivers Andrew "ACP" Comrie-Picard and Tanner Foust have also opted to sit this event out while they prepare for the X-Games.

The X Games contest is the biggest event on the calendar for invited teams and cars are due on the other side of the continent in just over a week.

No Doubt Pastrana, Block and L’Estage didn’t miss them.

All results are considered informational pending official race processes.

O/A Car # Class I/C Driver
1 199 O 1 Travis Pastrana 2009 Subaru Impreza WRX STi
2 43 O 2 Ken Block 2009 Subaru Impreza WRX STi 
3 17 O 3 Antoine L'Estage 2009 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X 
4 68 O 4 William Bacon 2006 Mitsubishi EVO IX
5 198 O 5 Arkadiusz Gruszka 2006 Mitsubishi EVO IX 
6 494 SP 1 Roman Pakos 2006 Subaru Impreza STI
7 19 SP 2 Timothy Penasack 2002 Subaru WRX
8 8 155 2WD 1 John Conley 2003 Dodge SRT-4

Quotes and Photo: Rally America