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Old 03-05-2008, 03:49 AM   #1
Driving Sports TV Staff
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Join Date: Feb 2002
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2004 WRX

Default Block/Gelsomino Threepeat at 100AW

Block/Gelsomino Threepeat at 100 Acre Wood
Many Teams Suffer Damage in Icy Weather

By Jeff Zurschmeide, Subiesport Magazine - Photo: Lars Gange, rally.subaru.com

Follow the 2008 rally season with Subiesport Magazine! - Check out the new Digital Edition!

The plan in the Rally America season is to hold just one true snow rally. Sno*Drift in January leads off the season, and some competitors skip the event in favor of the much more temperate Rally in the 100 Acre Wood held in Missouri a month later. But this year, Mother Nature caught many teams with their long johns down as winter weather again dominated the results at the second round of the 2008 rally racing championship series.

The day before the event, snow, ice, and freezing rain paralyzed the nation’s heartland and kept drivers, co-drivers, and some teams waiting for the St. Louis airport to reopen. Several participants had to make forced drives at the last minute to arrive in time to start the event, but when they did start, the conditions were anything but hospitable, leading to one of the most difficult 100 Acre Wood rallies in recent years.

Coming out of Sno*Drift, the Canadian duo of Antoine L’Estage and Nathalie Richard had the winner’s momentum, but this will be the hardest year yet for the Rally America championship. Several top teams are ready to pounce on the slightest mistake or misfortune.

Last year’s champion Travis Pastrana was first on the road with a brand new co-driver. After several years and two consecutive championships, SRTUSA veteran Christian Edstrom chose to step out of the car following a rally-ending impact with a deer at Sno*Drift. While a co-driver of Edstrom’s stature is not easy to replace, Subaru tapped past WRC champion co-driver Derek Ringer of Scotland. This is the latest of many indications that Subaru is seriously grooming Pastrana for WRC competition.

But it was SRTUSA teammates Ken Block and Alessandro Gelsomino who took the lead starting with Stage 1 of the event, winning the 10-mile opener by 6.1 seconds over second-place L’Estage/Richard. Pastrana/Ringer were 12 seconds off the lead on this stage, but still at least 14 seconds over the rest of the top 10. Block/Gelsomino repeated the win on Stage 2, came in second to Pastrana/Ringer on Stage 3, and were back on top for Stage 4, the last stage of Day 1.

Stage 3 claimed several competitors - the start of a destruction tour that may well affect downfield points races through the entire season if competitors can’t get their cars fixed by April’s Olympus Rally in Washington State. Most significantly, L’Estage/Richard retired on this stage with a mechanical problem in their modified AWD Hyundai Tiburon. With the second place car out of the way, the rally quickly turned into a Subaru Rally Team USA juggernaut.

In the 2WD ranks, a particular hill on Stage 3 proved a literally insurmountable challenge. With ice rather than gravel as the racing surface, several teams found themselves unable to climb the slope and complete the stage. At least one team, the #628 1996 Saturn SL piloted by Minnesotans Dan Adamson and Christopher Gordon, chose to withdraw from the day’s event, but returned for the second day with a brand new set of ice tires on the car.

At the end of the first four stages, Block/Gelsomino led the competition, followed by Pastrana/Ringer, with the Rockstar Energy Drink team of Tanner Foust and Christine Beavis holding down third. Two-time Production GT class champions Matt Johnson and Jeremy Wimpey finished the day in fourth place, and 2007 Group 5 champions Kyle Sarasin and Mikael Johansson completed the top five.

The second day of the event changed little except that Johnson/Wimpey moved up to third position. With the exception of Stage 10, taken by Canadians Andrew Comrie-Picard and Marc Goldfarb, every stage was won by Block/Gelsomino or Pastrana/Ringer, most often with the other SRTUSA team in second position. The battle in this rally was for third place, with Johnson/Wimpey, Comrie-Picard/Goldfarb, Sarasin/Johansson, Foust/Beavis and their teammates Andrew Pinker and Robbie Durant fighting it out.

When the podium was announced, no one was surprised to see Block/Gelsomino at the top of the standings in their 2006 STI. The pair ran a fast and consistent event, winning 9 of 14 stages outright and finishing second on an additional 4. In fact, the only stage on which Block/Gelsomino were not first or second was the final stage of the rally, where they dropped to 5th-fastest. Still, the team finished the event almost a full 60 seconds ahead of second-place Pastrana/Ringer in their 2006 STI and 4:22 ahead of third place Johnson/Wimpey in their 2003 WRX.

Comrie-Picard/Goldfarb finished in fourth place in their 2006 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, despite serious damage sustained in an encounter with a tree that failed to move out of their way. (You should have come with us on the Alcan Rally, Andrew! - JZ) They were followed in the results by Sarasin/Johansson and then by the top Production GT car, a 2004 Subaru WRX piloted by Stephan Verdier and Scott Crouch.

Group 5 honors and 11th place overall were taken by Christopher Duplessis and Martin Headland in their 1990 Volkswagen GTI, while Production was won by Jim and Marianne Stevens in their 2004 Suzuki Swift. No Group 2 or Group N cars finished the National portion of the rally.

This rally was brutal on tires, with many teams limping home to the finish on their rims. The ordinarily fast roads turned treacherous with ice, leading several teams to turn up at their service areas with body and radiator damage. Along the way, Pinker/Durant, Foust/Beavis, and L’Estage/Richard all fell by the wayside to mechanical or impact troubles. Celebrity BMX rider turned rally driver Dave Mirra and co-driver Alan Ockwell also failed to finish the event due to a crash on Stage 14.

Fortunately, there’s a good interval between this rally and the upcoming Olympus Rally, to be held in Olympia, Washington on April 19-20. Competitors such as Amy Bebervanzo and Aubrey Volger, who struck a tree in their 2006 WRX, will need the interval to repair their cars.


More pics: http://www.drivingsports.com/blog/20...elsomin-1.html
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Last edited by ricochet; 04-21-2008 at 02:37 PM.
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Old 04-13-2008, 10:53 PM   #2
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I talked to them before they started their second day down there. Cool guys.
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