Subaru Rally Team USA driver Travis Pastrana captured his 15th career X Games medal in the ESPN X Games 15 Rally competition at the Home Depot Center in Los Angeles where he won the Silver medal. Pastrana, driving a BFGoodrich Tires-shod 2009 Subaru Impreza WRX STI rally car was the clear favorite after winning Gold at the 2008 event. However, Pastrana's bid for a second straight Gold was halted midway through the Gold medal race when he clipped a cement barrier with his right front wheel, nearly ripping the wheel from the car, thus handing former Indianapolis 500 winner Kenny Brack the Gold medal. Pastrana's X Games medals count now includes nine Gold, four Silver and two Bronze. Four of his 15 medals have been awarded in the Rally competition.
The premiere action sports event in the world, ESPN's X Games 15 features a variety of action sports including BMX, skateboarding, freestyle motocross and rally car racing. The X Games rally event featured a large dirt gap-jump as the centerpiece of the approximately 1.9mile course laid out at the Home Depot Center Stadium in Los Angeles. The course included a dirt section within the stadium while the bulk of the course is a serpentine loop through the paved parking lots and access roads outside of the stadium.
Pastrana graciously acknowledged that his driving error in the final was a result of pushing hard to win against a very determined Kenny Brack, a former winner of the Indianapolis 500. "If Kenny [Brack] wasn't so fast it would have never happened. I was really impressed by him," said Pastrana. "On my first lap it seemed like we were dead-even, but I knew I could drive smoother and faster, so I tried to take a clean tight line through the very narrow turn that enters back into the stadium for the second lap. I just apexed too early and clipped the inside cement barrier with my front right wheel. I would have kept going but I had no steering and knew I wouldn't make it over the large jump. It was a wild event as always and Subaru again provided me a perfect car that worked so well everywhere."
Pastrana entered the X Games Rally Car final bruised and battered after attempting a seemingly impossible backflip with a 360-degree rotation in the Freestyle MotoX competition on Friday night. Pastrana landed hard on his right arm and hip leading to painful swelling. "As long as I can physically drive, everything is OK. The pain just goes away when I get in my Subaru, it didn't slow me down," explained Pastrana.
Pastrana's Subaru teammate Ken Block was well on his way to winning his quarter-final match against Freestyle MotoX legend and Off-Road Truck racer Brian Deegan before a small mistake cost him the win. With a sizable lead on Deegan after the first lap, Block slid wide and hit his right rear wheel on a cement barrier. As Block powered through the turn and headed for the daunting 70-foot-gap jump at the center of the stadium, he noticed the car was not getting power down to the ground (Block would later learn the impact had broken the right rear wheel and driveshaft). With just a split second to decide whether he could gain enough speed to clear the gap-jump, a potentially dangerous situation for himself and the ESPN commentator riding along inside the car, Block decided against going over the jump. Instead Block swerved around the jump and went on to continue his lap with an ailing rear wheel, eventually finishing ahead of Deegan. ESPN however disqualified Block for going off-course around the jump. "I had less than a second to make a decision, I didn't know what was wrong with the car but I knew I hit that wall and I suddenly had trouble accelerating toward the jump," explained Block. "I had an ESPN commentator riding in car and I just didn't want to potentially hurt her; I would probably have gone for it otherwise."
Subaru Rally Team USA's third entry was BMX legend Dave Mirra, driving an identically prepared 2009 Subaru Impreza WRX STI to those of Block and Pastrana. Mirra was paired against eventual Gold medal winner Kenny Brack in the quarter-finals. In a tightly fought match-up, Mirra drove smooth and mistake-free but Brack edged him out for the win. "The course was a lot of fun and I'm glad I made a clean, mistake-free run, but it was Brack's day and his smooth driving style really worked well on this type of course," said Mirra. Mirra didn't leave the X Games empty-handed: the BMX icon won a Bronze medal in the BMX Freestyle Big Air competition, bringing his lifetime X Games medal count to 22. Mirra is the most decorated X Games athlete with 14 Gold medals, four Silver and four Bronze.
"Although we fell just short of winning X Games Rally, the heightened competition certainly helped fuel this year's spectacle," said James Han, motorsports marketing manager for Subaru of America Inc. "I'm proud that every member of Subaru Rally Team USA, including our three drivers, worked tirelessly to meet the challenge, and leaving X Games unfulfilled makes us even more determined for the following year."
Pastrana and his Subaru Rally Team USA teammates Ken Block and Dave Mirra all entered the X Games driving the same production-based 2009 Subaru Impreza WRX STI rally cars that they utilize in the 2009 Rally America National Championship. Pastrana is well on his way to earning his fourth consecutive Rally America National Championship after winning four of the six rounds run thus far in 2009.