Thursday, July 30, 2009
No officially timed runs took place today, but competitors had a chance to fine-tune their cars for the track and learn some of the corners. For the first time, there were no co-drivers as ESPN decided navigators weren't really needed, truly making this far more akin to a rallycross rather than a genuine rally.
Photo: John Rettie
Alex Gelsomino was the only co-driver on hand. He actively helped the team and advised Block on lines to take through corners. Block, who had some jet lag having only just returned from competing in an international event a few days before, told us, "I am going to miss having Alex sitting next to me. I like having a co-driver."
The drivers did get to experience part of the course with passengers as ESPN organized rides for media in attendance. That's how we found ourselves strapped in, complete with a HANS device, sitting next to Dave Mirra. It was a short, dramatic ride. Sliding through one corner, tires smoking on full opposite lock, inches from the concrete barriers, Mirra apologized for screwing up. Funny, we thought he meant to do it!
Friday, July 31, 2009
Left to right: Dave Mirra, Travis Pastrana, and Ken Block
Now it was time for everyone to get serious as timed runs, on part of the tarmac course, were in order for seeding. All three SRT USA drivers were automatically guaranteed a pass in the first round of eliminations on Sunday because they all won medals last year.
X GAMES 15 RALLY DRIVERS
Ken Block, SRT USA
Dave Mirra, SRT USA
Travis Pastrana, SRT USA
Visually, it was impossible to tell which cars were fastest as the top nine cars were within five seconds of each other. Block, Pastrana, and Tanner Foust (this year in a Fiesta) put on quite a show with tires smoking through the corners. But at the end of the session, it was Kenny Brack from Sweden in a Fiesta who was fastest. There was hardly a puff of tire smoke from his car. Although he was officially a rookie, it's important to keep in mind that Brack was winner of the Indy 500 in 1999, and he retired as a full-time racer after a horrendous crash in 2003.
Privateer Jimmy Keeney in a WRX was seeded last as he was unable to get a time, having damaged his car in practice on Thursday. Consequently, he was going to race against Brack in the first round of eliminations on Sunday.
Saturday, August 1, 2009
This was a day off for the rally competitors. Pastrana spent much of the day sitting beside the swimming pool at a nearby hotel, nursing his sore body. Mirra and Block attended an event where the upcoming DiRT 2™ video game was launched. Block told us he was thrilled to beat video gaming aficionados at it. Perhaps it was because he gets plenty of practice at sliding his gymkhana car sideways in parking lots.
Also, Subaru organized an event called Subaru WRX Games for Subaru enthusiasts.