Subaru Rally Team USA driver Travis Pastrana put an authoritative stamp on his fourth consecutive Rally America National Championship with a dominating win at the 2009 Lake Superior Performance Rally (LSPR). Pastrana, from Davidsonville, MD, mathematically won the 2009 Rally America Championship at the Ojibwe Forests Rally in late August. With nothing to lose and no pressure, Pastrana entered LSPR stating he was intent on simply driving to dominate, taking risks and putting on a proper show for the fans. He lived up to his claims by leading from the start at the wheel of his 2009 Subaru Impreza WRX STI rally car and finishing fastest on fifteen of LSPR's seventeen stages. Pastrana, with co-driver Christian Edstrom, won by a comfortable margin of over four minutes. The win at LSPR is Pastrana's sixth of the nine-event 2009 Rally America National Championship and caps the most successful season of his rally career.
Pastrana's Subaru teammate Ken Block, with co-driver Alex Gelsomino, finished in Third Overall and won the Super Production class. The Lake Superior Performance Rally is headquartered in Houghton, at the northern tip of Michigan's Upper Peninsula. The rally is revered by rally drivers for its difficult conditions, which typically include high speeds on tree-lined roads with variable weather making stages a white-knuckled affair. Adding to the challenge are over seventy miles of night stages where visibility can be in short supply. "I drove flat-out, took some risks and had a lot fun," explained Pastrana at the podium ceremony. "Christian [Edstrom] and I wanted to win as many stages as possible and really show how fast we can go. It's definitely a different strategy when the points and the championship don't matter!" Pastrana's goal of winning all of the event's seventeen stages was interrupted only by former Canadian Rally Champion Antoine L'Estage, who narrowly beat Pastrana on two stages on the first day of competition. Pastrana went on to win all eight competitive stages on the second and final day of LSPR, cruising to a victory of over four minutes.
"It's sometimes difficult to believe that Travis only began his rallying career a few short years ago," said James Han, motorsports marketing manager for Subaru of America Inc. "In that time, he has really developed into a devastatingly quick and well-rounded driver who can also maintain a consistent pace and provide the team with sufficient feedback to maximize car set-ups. Achieving four consecutive Rally America national titles is quite a testament to Travis and his co-drivers, the strength of Subaru's technical partner in Vermont SportsCar, and performance from our Subaru Impreza WRX STI."
Pastrana's Subaru teammate Ken Block entered LSPR in a Super Production (SP) Class 2009 Subaru Impreza WRX STI. The production-based, minimally modified Subaru stood in as a replacement for Block's usual Open Class STI rally car, which sustained heavy damage in a crash at the Ojibwe Forests Rally. Block performed well to wring out all he could from the car and achieved a podium result, a rarity for a Super Production class car among the more powerful Open Class-specification vehicles. In the latter stages of Day one, Block found himself having to measure his pace as his car began showing signs of engine trouble. Block backed off considerably but was still able to handily win the Super Production class overall as well as finish in Third Overall.