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Old 11-08-2007, 02:53 AM   #1
ricochet
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Default LSPR Finale and Rally America Recap



Lake Superior Pro Rally & Rally America Season Recap
By Jeff Zurschmeide | www.subiesport.com | Photos: Lars Gange rally.subaru.com

In the world of professional open wheel racing, fans are used to complete dominance. For years in Formula One, the only question was who would finish second to Michael Shumacher. This year in Champ Car, Sebastian Bourdais had his fourth championship locked up halfway through the season. That’s the way of things in that kind of racing.

But not in Rally.

Because of the way Rally America points are structured, any of the top three contenders could potentially walk away with the championship going into this year’s final event, and a fourth wild card who might decide the crown. This series was a nail biter, with four excellent teams coming into the last race of the season to fight for speed on every yard of every stage. Drivers, co-drivers, service crews, and car preparation were all critical factors for Travis Pastrana, Andrew Pinker, Ken Block, and Tanner Foust. There was no room for error.

After last year’s juggernaut by Subaru Rally Team USA, most observers expected that 2007 would be a repeat performance – that Rally would go the way of all professional racing and be dominated by the team with the best program – the team with big-budget factory support. But that’s not how it played out at all. This year’s Rally America series saw 4 separate overall rally winners in 9 events, and with 2006 Champ Travis Pastrana out of the game early at the Oregon Trail and Olympus rallies, the field was wide open.

Foust found himself in a position to play kingmaker after winning the X Games gold medal and the Formula D drifting championship. With co-driver Christine Beavis, the versatile team offered an increasingly threatening performance all year.

Coming into the final event of the season at the Lake Superior Rally, the SRTUSA team was dealt a potentially lethal blow by Rally America officials. A mysterious 5 point penalty was levied against both cars for an unspecified infraction by a “team associate” earlier in the year. In a race this tight for the championship, a 5 point penalty could make all the difference.



Sixty-nine cars entered the Lake Superior Rally, based in Houghton, Michigan on the rural upper peninsula. Weather at this time of year is changeable, so teams must be prepared for conditions from warm and dry to the first fall snows. Over the next two days, 16 stages lay ahead covering over 100 stage miles – and in the end, the margin of victory was just 3.5 seconds.

Day 1 started out looking like the Foust/Beavis show – the pair won the first two stages and established a lead of 6.4 seconds over Travis Pastrana/Christian Edstrom. SRTUSA teammates Ken Block and Alex Gelsomino couldn’t catch a break, and flatted a tire on each of the first two stages, putting them well back in fourth place, over 20 seconds behind. Their bad luck continued and after holing the radiator on stage 4, the team ground to a halt on stage 5, ending their national rally bid.

Stage 3 was canceled by the organizers, but afterwards Pastrana/Edstrom came back strong and swept the remaining 5 stages of the day. In a single run on stage 4, Pastrana/Edstrom picked up 11 seconds, erasing their deficit and giving themselves a 5 second lead. Foust/Beavis placed a strong second on every run for the balance of the day, but it wasn’t enough to stay with the defending Champ. The points-leading team of Andrew Pinker and Robbie Durant gave a strong and consistent showing, finishing third on all seven stages of the day.

Defending Production GT champion Matthew Johnson and co-driver Jeremy Wimpey were the top PGT team through stage 5, then a broken gearbox put them behind Stephan Verdier and Scott Crouch on stages 6 and 7. An earlier delay had placed Verdier/Crouch well down in the standings, leaving Johnson/Wimpey with the class lead for the day. Johnson and Wimpey borrowed a gearbox from the competing team of Patrick Moro and Mike Rossey and worked overnight to get it ready for the last day’s push.

At the close of stage 8, Pastrana/Edstrom led the rally, followed by Foust/Beavis and Pinker/Durant. Less than 30 seconds separated the three teams as their crews worked through the night to prepare for the final run at the season title.

Day 2 of the rally threatened Pastrana/Edstrom from the beginning. Stage 9 was claimed by Pinker, who tied for the stage win with Block/Gelsomino. Though time-barred for the national, the SRTUSA team returned in true sportsmanlike style to run in the regional competition on Sunday. Foust/Beavis finished the stage a scant 0.9 seconds behind the top teams. Pastrana/Edstrom reported clutch trouble as they turned up in fourth place 21.9 seconds behind the leaders.

By the first service of the day, Pastrana/Edstrom had yielded their lead to Foust/Beavis, and the SRTUSA crew made a lightning-quick transmission change during the 30 minute service. With a seven second deficit to make up, SRTUSA could not afford any time penalties for excess service time.



In the end, the rally win, and with it the season championship, came down to last stages of the day, the rally, and the season. Going into the final three stages, Foust/Beavis led Pastrana/Edstrom by just 7 short seconds – less than the time it takes to read this sentence.

But an unexpectedly poor finish on stage 14 dropped Foust/Beavis 10.4 seconds behind the stage-winning time and erased their lead for good. Block/Gelsomino made a final curtain call for the year with a win on stage 15. Then, on the very last stage of the year, Travis Pastrana and Christian Edstrom won the stage, the Lake Superior Rally, and the 2007 Rally America National Championship.

Overall for the event, Foust/Beavis finished just 3.5 seconds behind Pastrana/Edstrom, while third place went to Pinker/Durant, 1:33.5 behind the winners. Fourth place and first in Production GT went to Johnson/Wimpey, earning them a well-deserved class championship.

Group 2 honors at the Lake Superior Rally went to brothers Tom and Dan Burress from Washington in their 1976 VW Rabbit. Group 5 was won by Cary Kendall and Scott Friberg in a 2006 Dodge SRT-4 Neon. Production honors went to Jan and Jody Zedril in a 2003 Mitsubishi Lancer ES. Tops in Group N were Arkadiusz Gruszka and Grzegorz Dorman in a 2005 Subaru Impreza WRX STi.

For the 2007 Rally America national season, the overall 2WD prize belonged to Kendall/Friberg, along with the Group 5 honors. The Group 2 championship went to the team of Christopher Duplessis and Martin Headland in a 1990 Volkswagen GTI. The Production Championship and the prestigious Donison Cup went to Zedril/Zedril. And the Group N national championship was earned by the diligent team of Otis Dimiters and Alan Ockwell in their Subaru WRX.



To sum up the 2007 season, this was the best year yet for Rally in the United States. As rallyists and enthusiasts, we can thank our lucky stars that SCCA chose to walk away from the sport in 2004 and that Rally America was there to pick up the flag and give the sport the attention and promotion it deserves. With just a few more years like this, Rally Racing is likely to break into the consciousness of race fans who are growing bored with season after season of predictable rolling commercials.

Victory at the Lake Superior Rally came down to a service interval. Pastrana/Edstrom’s crew could have lost them the rally if they hadn’t had the skills needed to get his transmission changed in a single 30-minute service. Had they been even a minute late, the 6 second “road penalty” would have cost the team the event victory, and potentially the championship.

Further, if Tanner Foust had attended the Rally in the 100 Acre Wood or Susquehannock Trail, he might well have won the Rally America championship as well as the Formula D drifting title. Look for Foust/Beavis to be back next year in search of the top spot.

Throughout this year, victory and defeat were most often separated by times best measured in heartbeats. That’s what makes a great racing series, and we can look forward another great season of rally racing beginning in January.

##



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Last edited by ricochet; 11-08-2007 at 11:51 AM.
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Old 11-08-2007, 10:59 AM   #2
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I nabbed a nice picture of Travis in the winners circle.



And a few during the race as well.

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Old 11-08-2007, 01:59 PM   #3
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great article...this is why I bought a subie!
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Old 11-08-2007, 02:23 PM   #4
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"Win on Sunday, sell on Monday."

Ain't that the truth. Nice article and photos!

-Matt
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Old 11-08-2007, 02:30 PM   #5
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Reminds me why I'm proud to be an owner of a Subaru.
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Old 11-08-2007, 04:52 PM   #6
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nice coverage and photos, one of these years I need to go up to my hometown to see this in action. Remember back as a kid they had
what was called the P.O.R. rally up there and part of it went right by
my house. Definitely a hidden inspiration for my suby purchase.
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Old 11-08-2007, 10:39 PM   #7
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WOW wish socal had big events like that! something cool and up close!
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Old 11-09-2007, 04:35 AM   #8
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Quote:
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This pic is so nice...
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Old 11-09-2007, 08:48 AM   #9
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not everyone finished



Greg
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Old 11-09-2007, 08:50 AM   #10
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Old 11-09-2007, 08:50 AM   #11
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Old 11-09-2007, 05:34 PM   #12
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not everyone finished



Greg
Ouch! Not fun at all.
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Old 11-09-2007, 08:48 PM   #13
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Swimmin with da fishies!!!!!!
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Old 11-10-2007, 10:52 AM   #14
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I wonder if that Impreza will still run after that bout with the water...
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Old 11-12-2007, 09:53 AM   #15
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ill pics, wish i could race my subie like that. Sucks for the guy in the stream.
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Old 11-12-2007, 10:04 AM   #16
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ill pics, wish i could race my subie like that. Sucks for the guy in the stream.
All you gotta do is do it

I wasted 5 years thinking I cant do it or cant afford it

Buy a cheap rally car and do it.

http://www.rallyclassified.com/

Greg
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Old 11-12-2007, 01:10 PM   #17
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part out--- partial water damage... haha
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Old 11-15-2007, 02:33 PM   #18
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what tires are those, and where can they be bought?
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Old 11-15-2007, 02:43 PM   #19
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what tires are those, and where can they be bought?
They are called "Rally" tires and I can supply them


gdrozd@gmail.com

Greg
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Old 11-19-2007, 03:24 PM   #20
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Thats right! Bugeye for the front page!!
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Old 11-20-2007, 01:08 PM   #21
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that sux ass
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Old 12-18-2007, 02:09 AM   #22
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2011 season here I come.
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