(September 23, 2007) Subaru Rally Team USA driver Ken Block and his co-driver Alex Gelsomino have won Rally Colorado, the penultimate round of the 2007 Rally America National Championship. Block drove his BFGoodrich Tires shod Subaru Impreza WRX STI rally car to a convincing win on the high-speed, high-altitude Colorado roads while teammate Travis Pastrana battled back from several setbacks to claim 3rd overall. Block, Pastrana and rival Andy Pinker, each competing in Subaru Impreza WRX STI rally cars, are now in a near dead-heat atop the Rally America Championship leaderboard, setting the stage for the final round, the 2007 Lake Superior Performance Rally (LSPR) to be 'winner-take-all'.
Rally Colorado is based in the scenic resort community of Steamboat Springs, just 150 miles west into the mountains from Denver. The rally historically includes over 100 miles of fast high altitude gravel roads that are dusty when dry, and impossibly slick when wet. The rally teams experienced both driving conditions this weekend when sunny weather on Saturday gave way to heavy downpours on Sunday's final leg. The roads turned treacherously muddy, and the rally was shortened due to road damage and safety concerns.
"I dedicate this win to Colin McRae," said Block after the podium ceremony. "It was an honor to call him my friend and I truly enjoyed the few times I competed with him. He is my biggest inspiration in rally and always will be." The rear glass on the Subaru rally cars of both Block and Pastrana were adorned with a large Scottish flag graphic and McRae's name as tribute to the legendary driver. The former World Rally Champion and recent teammate to Block and Pastrana at the X Games Rally was killed in a helicopter accident last weekend.
"To keep my championship hopes going, I needed to win this event and I did everything possible to do so," explained Block. "This rally really suits me; it's high-speed and requires a lot of commitment! I pushed really hard Saturday morning to build a lead and carry it to the end. Now if we win the final round, we win the championship. I won LSPR last year so I am feeling really confident in my chances there."
Defending Rally America Champion Travis Pastrana
and his co-driver Christian Edstrom won Rally Colorado in 2006 and were the odds-on favorite to do so again this year. However, any hopes of victory this year by Pastrana were dashed after a difficult first day that included a turbo hose coming loose, a huge off-road excursion and a resulting tire puncture. "Well we had our troubles on the first day and nearly crashed very hard; the car just bounced way off the road during a stage then somehow found its way back up onto the road. It was the most fun I have ever had in a car, and I can't believe how strong our Subaru is!" exclaimed an animated Pastrana at the podium. "To take 3rd overall after all of that is great, and we'll take it!"
The ninth and final round of the 2007 Rally America National Championship takes place on Oct 26-27 in Houghton, Michigan.