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Old 06-11-2008, 07:11 PM   #1
ricochet
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Default Tough Times at STPR 2008

Tough Times at the 2008 STPR
Story by Jeff Zurschmeide, Photos: Rally America



For a replay of Driving Sports' Live coverage of STPR 2008, click here. Live coverage sponsored by Perrin Performance, NASIOC and Subiesport Magazine

If the Rally America teams thought their trials and tribulations were safely left behind in Oregon, they received a rude awakening at this week’s Waste Management Susquehannock Trail Performance Rally. “Waste management” was an appropriate name for the event, as the destruction tour that is the 2008 Rally America season continued at full throttle.

Starting from the top of the seed list, Subaru Rally Team USA arrived with two new 2008 STI hatchbacks. The new rally machines showed up straight from the shop, apparently without much testing time to shake the bugs out. This may prove to be the team’s undoing for the year, because before the paint was even dry the rear suspensions on both cars failed in spectacular fashion.

The early season juggernaut of Ken Block and Alex Gelsomino sputtered to a halt in Oregon with a DNF, and faltered again on stage 2 in Pennsylvania. According to rally control reports, the rear lower control arms failed and left the former points leaders stranded by the side of the road. This ended their national hopes for the weekend, but the veteran rallyists came back to contest the regional event the next day. Oregon Trail winner Travis Pastrana and co-driver Derek Ringer experienced similar troubles on stage 2, but made it back to service for repairs and were not time-barred.

But any joy in the Subaru team pits was short-lived, as Pastrana/Ringer rolled their brand new rally car on stage 4 first thing the following morning, and the car caught fire. As if that wasn’t enough, Ringer was slightly injured while setting out the warning triangles. The red cross was displayed, ending the stage competition and any hopes of salvaging this weekend for SRTUSA. Ringer was reportedly treated and released.

Stage 4 also took a bite out of several other top teams. Andrew Pinker and Robbie Durant had trouble with burnt intercooler hoses, Tanner Foust and Chrissie Beavis also had engine problems, as did Kyle Sarasin and Mikael Johansson during the first day’s stages. Luckily, all were able to keep going. Rally America points leaders Andrew Comrie-Picard and Marc Goldfarb did some damage to the rear end of their Mitsubishi Evo, and they were also able to continue at a reduced pace.

The next several stages were no kinder to the competitors. Among the many who fell by the wayside were Dave Mirra and Alexander Kihurani, the unofficial “third car” of SRTUSA. The two went off the road on stage 7. Comrie-Picard/Goldfarb’s Mitsubishi Evo blew its engine on stage 8. Sarasin/Johansson also succumbed to their earlier mechanical difficulties. Among those cars still running, Antoine L’Estage and Nathalie Richard in their unique Hyundai Tiburon, Foust/Beavis, and Pinker/Durant were all facing mechanical issues of one kind or another, and limping along towards the finish.

The storm of trouble bypassed one car. The Hankook Tire Subaru WRX of Matt Johnson and Jeremy Wimpey earned two back-to-back Production GT titles in 2006 and 2007, and this team has been looking to move up the standings in Open class this year. As the rally wore on to the end, they were sitting third behind L’Estage/Richard and Foust/Beavis. Given the induction problems on both of the leading cars, Johnson/Wimpey had a real shot at the top spot this weekend.

But at the last service, L’Estage/Richard were able to get a replacement turbo installed, which did not quite fix their problems, but allowed them to bring home their second win of the season, having previously won the season opener Sno*Drift rally back in January. Foust/Beavis finished the rally hot on their heels, just 17 seconds behind. Johnson/Wimpey turned in a strong third place finish 1 minute and 51.6 seconds behind the leader. Pinker/Durant finished in fourth place, 4 minutes down. Fifth place went to the 2006 Mitsubishi Evo IX of William Bacon and Peter Watt, 4 minutes, 43.2 seconds behind L’Estage/Richard.

In Production GT, the 2004 Subaru WRX of Stephan Verdier and Scott Crouch was missing from this event - still suffering from damage sustained at Oregon Trail. The 2002 WRX of Patrick Moro and Mike Rossey ended the weekend with top honors in the class, followed by Robert and Mariusz Borowicz, also in a 2002 WRX. The remaining national PGT teams of Jaroslaw Sozanski and Bartosz Sawicki, Heath Nunnemacher and Kim DeMotte, and Travis and Terry Hanson all failed to finish the Susquehannock Trail.



Group 5 honors went to John Conley and Karen Wagner as the sole surviving entry in that class. Group 2 was won by Silvio Alva and Benjamin Slocum in their 1994 Nissan Sentra SE-R, followed by Don Conley and Heidi Nunnemacher in a 1998 Volkswagen GTI. There were no Production class entries in the national race.

Looking over the stage-by-stage results, the second place team of Foust/Beavis won six of the 13 total stages, and finished second on three more. The winning team of L’Estage/Richard won only two stages, but finished second on four more stages, and finished third on four stages. Pinker/Durant won three stages, and Sarasin/Johansson won a single stage. Block/Gelsomino won stage 8 as a regional entry, followed by the remarkable regional entry of Adam Markut and Christopher Gordon in a 1993 Eagle Talon. Johnson/Wimpey placed third on 5 stages, consistent with their podium finish.

The outstanding characteristic of this rally was its unpredictability - both overall and on any given stage. With Pastrana/Ringer out of the picture and Block/Gelsomino coming and going, this was anyone’s race to win. The stage-by-stage results are less consistent than in any rally in the past several years - a team might be in first place on one stage, then at the bottom of the pack on the next. And there’s a good reason for that.

The 2008 season has been harder on the equipment and less predictable than the same rallies last year because the level of competition in Rally America rises each year. Every year there are more teams capable of running at the top of the chart, so each team has to raise its game to stay at the front. Rally racing is already run on the ragged edge of control, so more teams find the far side of that edge on every stage at every event.

It was only two months ago that Ken Block and Alex Gelsomino seemed destined to dominate the 2008 championship, but that prediction now looks older than a Mitt Romney campaign poster. Yet Pastrana currently sits second by a single point, and Block/Gelsomino are third by just 3 points. Comrie-Picard/Goldfarb have barely managed to hold their lead, but their DNF in Pennsylvania is profoundly frustrating. “Don’t ask me how I feel. It’s complicated. Rally car racing is one of the toughest motorsports there is. Every team has its share of difficulty in a season and now we’ve had ours. We’ll be back on the podium at the next rally,” said Comrie-Picard after the race.

As the summer draws near, invitations are being finalized for August’s X Games competition near Los Angeles, California. Twelve teams will be invited to compete. As last year’s podium finishers, Foust/Beavis, Pastrana/Ringer, and Block/Gelsomino are automatically invited back. Six other teams leading in the overall points will also get invitations, including Comrie-Picard/Goldfarb, Johnson/Wimpey, L’Estage/Richard, Sarasin/Johansson, Moro/Rossey and Conley/Conley. A wildcard team will be selected at next month’s New England Forest Rally, and then Rally America officials will issue the final two invitations at their discretion. Pinker/Durant certainly deserve an invitation; they just cannot seem to catch a break this spring.

Now attention shifts northward along the Atlantic seaboard, where the next event on the Rally America calendar is the New England Forest Rally on July 11-12. Travis Pastrana and Christian Edstrom won this rally last year, followed by Antoine L’Estage and Nathalie Richard. With Subaru Rally Team USA’s bad luck and L’Estage’s magic touch this year, it could be time for a new face at the top of the standings.
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Old 06-11-2008, 07:37 PM   #2
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o geez
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Old 06-11-2008, 07:48 PM   #3
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nutterz!
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Old 06-11-2008, 08:21 PM   #4
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You bring a car that ugly, you better at least win.

Hopefully they just need to be sorted out. Even though they're ugly, they're OUR ugly.
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Old 06-11-2008, 09:29 PM   #5
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That totally blows man.

We get this brand new car that is suppose to be uber better and what happens?
The suspension falls off the back and some how our vet rally drivers roll one....

I am starting to loose faith in Subaru...
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Old 06-11-2008, 09:32 PM   #6
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the cars did very well when running....
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Old 06-11-2008, 10:03 PM   #7
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sounds like they have an issue with the strength in the rear suspension parts that needs to be addressed.


Like I didn't see that coming. The stock rear suspension has been the source of a lot of suspension slop from the articles I've read.


must say I'm surprised with how well ken and travis are performing.
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Old 06-11-2008, 10:09 PM   #8
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To all the naysayers: This was really the first test of the new platform. How can you speak so poorly without proper testing and so forth. Of course there will be problems the first couple times out. Look at most new model year cars, the whole first year is just working bugs out of the new car.

Why should it be any different for rally cars?

I have no doubt the new car will do very well once they get them sorted.
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Old 06-11-2008, 10:20 PM   #9
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I took this video while following Pastrana back to service on Friday. When they say suspension failure, they are not kidding:

Pastrana's Suspension Drama

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Old 06-11-2008, 10:50 PM   #10
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new subarus are garbage!.. ugly what happened to that focus? hehe j/k i know its a wrx
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Old 06-11-2008, 10:51 PM   #11
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my internet explorer, ironically crashed after attempting to post this:

that hatchback design has been the heart of ridicule, rally and race catastrophe, discomfort, noise, crazy handlng, pretending to be fast, because its like looking over a short hood at 60mph...

and subaru reincarnates it...

of all the lack of documentation of thier good vehicles, self extinctive bizarre of said good designs...all thier little secrets...all thier true evolution...why why why is that car design back on earth...
I know japanaese is out of touch with large communication..but this leap and bound into futuristic is simply retarded and backwards. For a regular persons sake, I am glad it is pros getting to test it to max, and possibly hurt themselves. (it is thier jobs, really)
crazier than 5 main bearings, and an egr valve ...
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Old 06-11-2008, 10:53 PM   #12
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that blows. But I'm sure once all the bugs are worked out it will be an excellent rally car.
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Old 06-11-2008, 11:03 PM   #13
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And there was much fail...but hope for future success.
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Old 06-11-2008, 11:26 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by subari87 View Post
crazier than 5 main bearings, and an egr valve ...
5 main bearings is better. END OF STORY. I'm so sorry you can't get over the switch, but I think it's about time to bury the damn hatchet. It's been almost 20 years since the EJ-series first appeared.
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Old 06-12-2008, 12:33 AM   #15
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Block and Gelsomino were in their '07 car in Oregon, that article makes it sound like the new hatches were here. They definitely didn't have them at the special stages at PIR and I highly doubt they were just brought out for the woods on Sat and Sunday.
Block and Gelsomino had their night lighting set up come off the hood, go under the front tires right before a right hand turn so they couldn't brake, and they slammed head on into a 4 ft diameter boulder. The car still ran, they backed it up and finished the stage, which was super short at barely over a minute.
I would have liked to see the hatches here, that's for sure.
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Old 06-12-2008, 02:18 AM   #16
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That's funny Pat Richard had no problems in his Rocket Rally built 08 STi over a week ago.

http://www.flatovercrest.com/2008/05...d-takes-w.html
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Old 06-12-2008, 02:21 AM   #17
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That's funny Pat Richard had no problems in his Rocket Rally built 08 STi over a week ago.

http://www.flatovercrest.com/2008/05...d-takes-w.html


Added some more links to the Canadian build cars.

http://s235.photobucket.com/albums/e...t=DSC00150.jpg

I also believe three of their (Rocket Rally) cars place in the top three
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Old 06-12-2008, 07:15 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by reddoak View Post
You bring a car that ugly, you better at least win.

Hopefully they just need to be sorted out. Even though they're ugly, they're OUR ugly.
LOL - true. Sounds like they didn't end up working out all of the bugs yet...
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Old 06-12-2008, 09:18 AM   #19
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The new Scoobs seem to be doing alright for Petter Solberg and Chris Atkinson. Petter took second in Ultimate Acropolis Rally, after "going easy" to get a feel for the car. I'm not really into the new design either, but I think it was necessary to stay competitive in the WRC. It seems to be a change forced by the track.
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Old 06-12-2008, 09:38 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by subari87 View Post
my internet explorer, ironically crashed after attempting to post this:

that hatchback design has been the heart of ridicule, rally and race catastrophe, discomfort, noise, crazy handlng, pretending to be fast, because its like looking over a short hood at 60mph...

and subaru reincarnates it...
Tell that to Citroen and Sebastian Loeb and the C4 hatchback he has won 4 championships with.
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Old 06-12-2008, 09:43 AM   #21
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The rear suspensions on the VT cars aren't factory Subaru. That's why no one else with the same chassis had those problems. VT car made the rear suspension on their 08's.
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Old 06-12-2008, 10:29 AM   #22
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Quote:
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That's funny Pat Richard had no problems in his Rocket Rally built 08 STi over a week ago.
That is not entirely accurate.

The RR cars are doing really well but during the Rocky Mountain Rally Pat's new car blew out the rear brakes completely. Apparently they started on fire and had had to be removed caliper and all. This was on the first day in the first couple of stages. Pat ended up running with no rear brakes for the rest of the day and I believe the second day as well.

He still ended up placing really well even with no rear brakes
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Old 06-12-2008, 11:23 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by anubis328 View Post
The new Scoobs seem to be doing alright for Petter Solberg and Chris Atkinson. Petter took second in Ultimate Acropolis Rally, after "going easy" to get a feel for the car. I'm not really into the new design either, but I think it was necessary to stay competitive in the WRC. It seems to be a change forced by the track.
Take a look at the WRC car's rear suspension New skin, old style suspension.
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Old 06-12-2008, 12:48 PM   #24
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Take a look at the WRC car's rear suspension New skin, old style suspension.
Yep. If Subaru's new 'trunk space saver' suspension keeps failing, I wonder what they'll do with the production car.

I've heard some terrible terrible things about the new suspension out at the Rallyx. Nearly uncontrollable, and completely unstable - theres so much horizontal play in the suspension.
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Old 06-12-2008, 12:56 PM   #25
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WOW! You are correct mbs627. They are using the old strut setup on the WRC car.

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