Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Today was mainly a setup day with limited practice on the tortuous paved section. It was laid out in the parking lot outside the stadium at The Home Depot Center in Carson, south of downtown Los Angeles.
SRT USA had no guest driver this year, so it was up to its three team drivers -- Ken Block, Dave Mirra, and Pastrana -- to go for the gold.
Subaru Rally Team USA drivers in action.
Ever since the inaugural event in 2006, when X Games Rally was structured like a traditional rally with initial stages out in the desert, the event has turned into a rallycross-type competition. For those who don't know about rallycross, it was "invented" in 1967 when the RAC Rally in Britain was cancelled due to foot-and-mouth disease, and the organizers wanted to stage a special "rally" event for TV in its place. Rallycross has continued ever since, and, although it doesn't draw interest like WRC events, it is still a viable sport in northern Europe with many factory-supported teams competing.
For X Games 15 Rally, a Swedish team ventured across the Atlantic to compete with a trio of Ford Fiestas. These cars were built specifically for rallycross, making them lighter and more powerful than a traditional rally car. They only have to traverse a few miles in an event on a partially paved/partially dirt racetrack similar to a rally stage.
The Fiestas had participated in the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb a few weeks before X Games. While the cars normally make about 600 horsepower, they were allowed to run without air restrictors at Pikes Peak, where they were reputed to have produced 850 horsepower. For X Games 15, they were required to have a smaller restrictor that lowered their horsepower to about 450 bhp. Plus they added ballast to make their weight comparable to the rally-specification Subaru and other rally cars.