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Origins: Subaru in American Rallying – Part 6


Travis Pastrana/Derek Ringer took their first
overall victory for 2008 in Round 4 – the Oregon
Trail Rally.


Making the Rounds


Although the first round in Michigan was less than ideal for SRT USA, the next one (Rally in the 100 Acre Wood) in Salem, Missouri, was more satisfying. Running in snowy conditions, Block/Gelsomino finished first overall ahead of Pastrana/Ringer. Mirra and co-driver Alan Ockwell clipped a tree on the 14th stage and were non-finishers in their Rally America debut.

The series then moved west for the next two rounds. The Olympus Rally in Pomerey, Washington, again saw Block/Gelsomino and Pastrana/Ringer finish first and second. It was a significant event for Mirra because he formally graduated from a provisional license to an unrestricted license that allowed him to drive an Open Class rally car rather than the slightly slower production WRX STI.


The Oregon Trail Rally in Portland, Oregon, was a good one for Pastrana/Ringer. They finally took their first overall victory of the year. Block and Mirra both crashed out of the event.


Next-Generation Subaru Rally Car


SRT USA experienced a significant change for the Susquehannock Trail Performance Rally (STPR) – round five of the 2008 series. The team debuted the all-new 2008 Subaru WRX STI Open Class rally car. 


Ken Block/Alex Gelsomino led the way in the 2008 Olympus Rally
in Washington.


Ken Block was able to get comfortable with the new car at a test session before the rally and was enthusiastic about it before the start. "The new 2008 STI is definitely a step up from the 2007 model. I could feel the handling difference immediately. It's easier to drive fast, and I think a lot of it has to do with the weight distribution and center of gravity being optimized over the 2007 car."


Unfortunately, new cars often prove troublesome. Rear suspension problems plagued the cars, and neither Block nor Pastrana finished. Mirra, who was not running a new car, also crashed. 


The results were better at the New England Forest Rally in Newry, Maine. Pastrana finished 3rd and Mirra finished 7th, his best result yet. Block hit a rock after having transmission problems and was a non-finisher. Pastrana scored enough points to put him ahead of Block for the lead in the championship after six of the nine rounds.


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