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March 02, 2009 -For the fourth year in a row, Subaru Rally Team USA driver Ken Block has won the Rally in the 100 Acre Wood event, hosting round two of the 2009 Rally America National Championship, in dominating fashion. Block was uncatchable behind the wheel of his 2009 Subaru Impreza WRX STI on the fast and flowing Missouri roads, cruising to victory by over forty seconds. Subaru teammate Travis Pastrana was Block's only competition early on, but his challenge was cut short when he went off the road while pushing hard to match Block's pace, leading to car damage forcing him to retire from the rally. Subaru Rally Team USA's new third driver, BMX legend Dave Mirra, was the biggest surprise of the event with his debut in the new Super Production class, finishing second in class and leading the class for nearly the entire rally.
The Salem-based Rally in the 100 Acre Wood event in Missouri is a high-speed gravel rally featuring fast and flowing roads that are a favorite of many rally drivers. Ken Block especially favors this event and it clearly shows with four straight dominating wins. The rally, set in the foothills of the Ozark Mountains, is known for highly variable weather conditions. Most of this year's rally was dry and fast but a sudden flash snowstorm affected the final stages of the event.
As expected, Ken Block and co-driver Alex Gelsomino got off to a flying start winning three of the five stages on Day 1 to achieve a comfortable lead of over one minute. They maintained that lead throughout Day 2 with mistake-free driving, cruising to victory by over forty seconds. "I love the flow of the stages of this event, I love the high speeds," exclaimed Block at the finish. "My Subaru was really setup perfectly and that gave me the confidence to go flat-out on the real high-speed sections."
With four wins in a row at the 100 Acre Wood Rally Ken Block now shares a record with his mentor, American rally legend John Buffum, who won this event four times in a row from 1977 to 1980. "To share a record of any sort with [John] Buffum is incredible," mentioned Block. "I don't think I'll come close to any of his other records though!"
Block's new Subaru teammate, BMX legend Dave Mirra raised eyebrows with his debut in the recently introduced Super Production (SP) class, a new category for 2009 that features minimally modified, production-based cars. Mirra showed impressive speed at the start of the rally in his Subaru WRX STI, finishing Day 1 in third Overall and leading the SP class comfortably. Mirra was the fastest in-class on eight of the event's fourteen competition stages. Unfortunately, Mirra narrowly missed out on a class win when he slowed on Stage 14 to ensure he stayed on the road due to a flash snowstorm in that area. Fellow SP class challenger and veteran Subaru privateer Matt Johnson capitalized on the treacherous road condition and beat Mirra for the SP class win by just three seconds. "I felt really comfortable in the SP-spec Subaru, and it was really encouraging to see our stage times were right up there with the Open Class cars," explained Mirra "I've got a lot of confidence now and I know I can fight for the SP class championship this year and maybe even mix it up at the top of the standings for some Overall points too."
Three-time defending Rally America Champion Travis Pastrana vowed to challenge Block this weekend, and it looked as if the two drivers would be locked in a tight battle. After taking the early lead from Block on stage three, Pastrana made an error on Stage 4 that sent his Subaru off the road. Although Pastrana and his co-driver Christian Edstrom walked away unharmed, their Subaru was too damaged to continue.
The next rally scheduled for Ken Block is the all tarmac Rally New York USA, April 3-4 2009 where he will defend his 2008 victory. All three Subaru Rally Team USA drivers will be back in action at the Olympus Rally, round 3 of the 2009 Rally America National Championship, April 18-19 2009. Please visit www.subaru.com/rally for event details, photos and more team information.
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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.