Subaru Rally Team USA driver Travis Pastrana and his co-driver Christian Edstrom overcame treacherous icy conditions to take a dominating win at this weekend's Sno*Drift Rally, round one of the 2010 Rally America National Championship. Pastrana, the defending four-time Rally America National Champion, won by over one minute and thirty seconds driving an Open Class rally specification 2010 Subaru Impreza WRX STI. In an amazing show of determination and grit, Pastrana completed the event nursing an extremely sore collarbone, which he broke in a motocross accident less than a week ago. His Subaru Rally Team USA teammate, BMX legend-turned-rally pro Dave Mirra, finished 6th overall with co-driver Derek Ringer.
The Sno*Drift Rally was held on over 130 miles of snow and ice-covered roads in northern Michigan. Constantly changing weather and road conditions historically make this rally extremely challenging. This year's event featured forest roads that were a virtual skating rink after recent warm weather melted the snow cover, which then refroze this past week, leaving the roads in a thick sheet of ice. Rally America rules prohibit the use of spiked or studded ice-tires, placing a high premium on traction. Many competitors commented that conditions were the most treacherous they have ever experienced due to the lack of snow cover over the ice as well as the extremely small snow banks, which, when present, help keep errant rally cars on the road and away from the trees.
Pastrana led from the second stage and never looked back, advancing his lead to nearly fifty-five seconds after only the first of two days of competition. With a healthy lead in hand, Pastrana and co-driver Christian Edstrom spent the second day focusing on a safe and conservative driving strategy but were still able to extend their lead even further, eventually winning by one minute and thirty-seven seconds over former Canadian Rally Champion Antoine L'Estage. Thirteen of the event's twenty stages were won by Pastrana.
"I drove as smoothly as I could because my shoulder was so sore," said Pastrana at the finish. "We didn't put a wheel wrong all weekend and really the key to the victory was the perfect setup of my Subaru for the conditions. It enabled me to stay calm, smooth and mistake-free." Pastrana had broken his collarbone last Sunday during a motocross ride and had to undergo surgery this week to plate it back together before he could drive.
"Travis really put in one of his best driving performances given his recent injury and the very challenging stage conditions at this year's Sno*Drift Rally," acknowledged James Han, motorsports marketing manager for Subaru of America Inc. "An incredible effort by our team helped support our winning result, from the car preparation and development made by the staff at Vermont SportsCar to the time dedicated in testing and car set up performed by Dave [Mirra]. Our team cars, based on the 2010 Subaru Impreza WRX STI, maximized traction via their Subaru symmetrical all-wheel drive systems even in these slick roads."
After racing behind the wheel of a Super Production class Subaru with Subaru Rally Team USA in 2009, the BMX legend-turned-rally pro Dave Mirra entered the Sno*Drift Rally stepping up to the much more powerful Open Class car in 2010. Mirra's new Open Class-specification Subaru Impreza WRX STI, like Pastrana's STI, pumps out over 320hp and 500 lb-ft of torque when fitted with the class-mandated 34mm turbo restrictor. Mirra's goal for Sno*Drift, especially considering the extremely icy conditions, was to simply finish and gain valuable time behind the wheel of his new ride. Mirra ran as high as 4th Overall through the latter stages of the rally but a spin and light impact with a tree on the final stage cost him several minutes and two positions, slipping him to a 6th Overall finish. "I don't have much experience in these conditions or in this new, more powerful Subaru, so I was very hesitant early on," explained Mirra. "I got faster and more comfortable throughout the rally, and I think things were clicking very well but a spin just a few turns from the finish of the rally ended up costing me a few positions. I'm just happy to have finished though, since the roads were so icy and treacherous."