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July 20, 2009 - Subaru Rally Team USA driver Travis Pastrana overcame a close battle with his Subaru teammate Ken Block to win the New England Forest Rally, Round 6 of the 2009 Rally America National Championship. The Subaru duo of Pastrana and Block, each driving identically prepared 2009 Subaru Impreza WRX STI rally cars, fought all weekend with former Canadian Rally Champion Antoine L'Estage. Mechanical trouble for L'Estage and a late spin and tire puncture for Block handed Pastrana the victory on the final stages. The win extends Pastrana's points lead and puts him one step closer to winning his fourth consecutive Rally America National Championship.
The 2009 New England Forest Rally featured highly technical and rocky gravel logging roads near the Maine/New Hampshire border. Pastrana, partnered with his co-driver Christian Edstrom, entered the rally with a 21-point lead over his closest challenger and said his strategy from the start was to avoid taking unnecessary risks and get his car to the finish in one piece. "I wasn't the fastest driver here this weekend," said Pastrana. "It was hard to keep up with Block, but we were just close enough to capitalize when he hit some trouble at the end of the rally." The win at New England is Pastrana and Edstrom's fourth win from six events this year.
Ken Block and his co-driver Alex Gelsomino were the pace setters for most of the 2009 New England Forest Rally, winning five of the eleven competition stages. However, a spin and a puncture on the final loop of three stages cost Block over twenty-five seconds and allowed Pastrana to slip into the lead. "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." Although it wasn't the victory Block had hoped for the strong 2nd place points haul lifts Block from 5th to 2nd Overall in the Rally America National Championship standings.
A highlight of the rally again this year was the Concord Pond stage, a favorite among drivers and fans for its numerous jumps and serpentine-like flow. Block was able to crush his stage record on the 5.6-mile stage by an impressive eight seconds. "Our Subaru was perfect and the grip was amazing," said Block. "That stage means a lot to Alex (Gelsomino) and I so to break our record and by such a large margin was really exciting for us."
In the Super Production Class, Subaru Rally Team USA driver Dave Mirra and his co-driver Derek Ringer were battling for the class lead all weekend when they were hit with an engine problem. With a long stage to go prior to the next service stop Mirra and Ringer opted to retire from the event in order to prevent further damage to the engine.
A contingent of Subaru Rally Team USA heads next to Germany for the Baja 300 Powerdays, where Ken Block has been invited to compete in his Subaru Rally Team USA 2009 Subaru Impreza WRX STI rally car. The event will feature a stadium style, two-mile stage in Lausitz, Germany that will feature side-by-side racing with jumps similar to the X Games Rally event. Invited drivers include WRC stars Petter Solberg, Gigi Galli, and Kris Meeke as well as off-road racing and motorcycle racing stars.
Following the promotional Baja 300 Powerdays event will be the much-anticipated X Games 15 to be held again at The Home Depot Center in Carson, CA. The Rally Finals are scheduled to be televised live on ABC television on Sunday, August 2nd, from 3pm EST - 6pm EST.
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Subaru Rally Team USA is proudly supported by Subaru of America, Inc., Subaru Tecnica International (STI), Subaru Performance Tuning (SPT), DC Shoes, BFGoodrich Tires, RECARO, Alpinestars, Motul, Exedy, GReddy and Vermont SportsCar. Visit www.subaru.com/rally for Subaru Rally Team USA photo galleries, news and team information.