(Oct 27, 2007) - Subaru Rally Team USA driver Travis Pastrana has won the 2007 Rally America National Championship with a hard-fought victory in the series finale this weekend at the Lake Superior Performance Rally (LSPR). Pastrana charged on the final stages of the rally to beat Tanner Foust by a mere 3.5 seconds after covering over 100 miles of extremely challenging, high-speed gravel and tarmac roads in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Pastrana, the motocross star turned rally driver is now the Rally America National Champion for the second consecutive year.
The LSPR is notorious for variable weather conditions and this weekend proved no different after sun, rain and snow appeared within a matter of hours of each other. At the start of the rally all eyes were on the three-way battle amongst championship points contenders Pastrana, his Subaru Rally Team USA teammate Ken Block and Australian Andrew Pinker, each piloting 2007 Subaru Impreza WRX STI rally cars. However, Block retired early after damaging his radiator, and Pastrana pulled away convincingly from Pinker on Leg one. Thus Pastrana was in the driver's seat and needed to simply stay in front of Pinker to retain his Rally America National Champion title after having earned it with Subaru last year as the youngest-ever American rally champion.
But it was Tanner Foust, in his Subaru Impreza WRX STI, who mounted the challenge to Pastrana on Leg two. Foust pounced when Pastrana experienced a slipping clutch and gearbox issues in the middle of the day and moved into the rally lead ahead of Pastrana by seven seconds. With only three stages remaining in the rally, Pastrana regained his form and reeled back Foust, winning the event by an amazingly slim 3.5 seconds. "What an amazing finish to a very challenging season," said Pastrana. "Winning the Rally America Championship last year, for the first time, was fantastic but this year it feels much more special because we had to overcome tougher competition as well as battle back from some poor results earlier in the season. To win the championship by winning the final event with such a close and fierce battle is just so gratifying! It is a huge accomplishment for me, my co-driver Christian Edstrom and all of Subaru Rally Team USA."
Pastrana and Edstrom end the 2007 season with four wins, the most of any competitor in the Rally America Championship, and reached the podium at seven of the nine rounds. Unfortunately, fellow Subaru Rally Team USA driver Ken Block and co-driver Alex Gelsomino experienced a nightmare of a rally. Block's hopes for his first Championship title, after finishing runner-up to teammate Pastrana in 2006, faded after experiencing two tire punctures on the first two stages. On SS3, Block unknowingly clipped a tree branch that punched a hole in his car's radiator, forcing him to retire after the engine overheated beyond repair. "I'm almost speechless, this was a year's worth of bad luck rolled into the first three stages of the most important rally of the season," explained a disappointed Block. "We were so confident coming here, we knew we had the speed to win but we never even got one clean stage, and it was over barely after it got started." Block finishes the Rally America National Championship in 3rd Overall in the points.
In a year which featured more top-tier competition in US rallying than any in recent memory, Subaru Rally Team USA proved once again the merits of 2007 Subaru Impreza WRX STI by placing both team cars on the podium on five of nine Rally America rounds, while winning six of nine. "To have both pairs of team drivers making a run at the national title entering the last round is great," explained James Han, of Subaru of America Inc.. "The 2007 Subaru Impreza WRX STI has been a competitive platform for us and securing consecutive titles with Travis and Christian against such challenging competition is tremendously satisfying. We certainly have great momentum going into next season with both Travis and Ken returning for Subaru Rally Team USA in all-new 2008 Subaru Impreza WRX STI rally cars."
Subaru Rally Team USA is proudly supported by Subaru of America, Inc., Subaru Tecnica International (STI), Subaru Performance Tuning (SPT), DC Shoes, BFGoodrich Tires, Boost Mobile, Recaro, Alpinestars, Motul, Exedy, PIAA and Vermont SportsCar.