Subaru Rally Team USA driver Travis Pastrana has mathematically secured his fourth consecutive Rally America National Championship with a dominating win at the Ojibwe Forest Rally in northern Minnesota this weekend. Pastrana and his co-driver Christian Edstrom, cruised to victory in their 2009 Subaru Impreza WRX STI after several of their closest rivals hit trouble. The win, his fifth of the season, hauled in sufficient championship points to place Pastrana mathematically out of reach to his closest challengers and thus securing his fourth consecutive Rally America national title. Pastrana has won each of his Rally America championships (2006-2009) behind the wheel of a Subaru Impreza WRX STI rally car.
"It is game-on for the next two rallies," said Pastrana at podium. "It's great to drive without any pressure. A lot of the other drivers have had hard a season and bad luck, but things have just gone my way. My Subaru Impreza WRX STI has been perfect all year. It just works for me at every rally, it's easy to drive and lets me focus on winning."
"Travis really has transitioned into rally like fish to water ever since his first event with Subaru in 2004," said James Han, motorsports marketing manager at Subaru of America, Inc. "To think that he has earned four consecutive national titles under Subaru Rally Team USA is all testament to Travis' skills as a rally driver, thorough preparation by our team partner Vermont SportsCar, and consistent performance capability of the Impreza WRX STI regardless of terrain or driving condition."
The Ojibwe Forests Rally features over 130 miles of technical, sandy gravel forest roads in northern Minnesota, around the town of Bemidji. The event is a favorite among rally drivers for its demanding, fast and flowing roads and numerous stages run in darkness of night.
The rally began with a duel between Pastrana and his Subaru Rally Team USA teammate Ken Block. Entering the Ojibwe Forests Rally, only Block had a mathematical chance to catch Pastrana in the standings but needed to secure a win to keep his hopes alive. After the first two stages, the highly competitive friends and rivals were separated by just seconds. The challenge, however, was cut short on stage three when Block impacted a large rock while cutting the inside of a corner that launched his Subaru off the road, hitting a tree and rolling to DNF. Both Block and his co-driver Alex Gelsomino were unharmed in the crash. With Block out of the picture and several of his closest challengers experiencing small problems of their own, Pastrana found himself with a healthy lead early in rally. The driver of the #199 SRT USA car backed off his pace but was still able to win all but three of the event's fifteen competition stages.
In 2nd place Overall for the majority of the event was the third Subaru Rally Team USA entrant of Dave Mirra and co-driver Derek Ringer, driving a 2009 Subaru Impreza WRX STI in the Super Production class. Mirra drove one of his best events of his young rally career, consistently finishing each stage ahead of the rest of the field and chasing Pastrana while maintaining a healthy lead in the Super Production class. However, on the penultimate stage Mirra's car suffered an electrical issue that brought his car to halt, ending his run to the podium prematurely. "Everything was going our way and I was driving really well so it's unfortunate not to finish and get the result on paper," said Mirra. "My Subaru was running great until that [electrical] problem forced me out of the event. But that's rally, anything can, and does, usually happen."