The Rally America National Championship was interrupted by the increasingly important Rally Car event at X Games 15. SRT USA was up against some tough, new competition from a European-based team that had purpose-built rallycross cars. Nonetheless, the three SRT USA team drivers all put up strong efforts.
Travis Pastrana, as so often seems to be the case, was hurting from a bad fall he had taken on his motorcycle in an earlier X Games event. Pain never seems to overly concern him, and it certainly didn’t slow him down as he made it through to the final round in the elimination-style event. However, on the narrowest part of the track, where the course comes back into The Home Depot Center stadium, Pastrana clipped a barrier and broke the car’s steering. He had to be content with a Silver medal, his 4th medal in rally events and his 15th in all his X Games competitions over the years.
Once the Rally America season restarted, it was Block/Gelsomino who failed to finish in the next round – the Ojibwe Forest Rally in Bemidji, Minnesota. Pastrana/Edstrom took the win and the championship title with two rounds still to go. It also turned out that this was the last event of the year for Mirra, as prior commitments would preclude him from competing in the final two rounds.
With the championship decided, the Rally Colorado in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, gave the team insufficient time to repair Block’s Open Class STI from his crash in the preceding rally. He drove Mirra’s less powerful Super Production STI, but an engine problem caused a DNF after running as high as 3rd overall. Pastrana/Edstrom suffered a seven-minute road penalty, so this rally ended up being the only one all season not won by Pastrana/Edstrom or Block/Gelsomino.
The final round of the 2009 series – Rally America Lake Superior Rally in Houghton, Michigan – saw Pastrana/Edstrom take their 6th victory of the year. Coupled with one 2nd and two DNFs, Pastrana/Edstrom had pretty much dominated the whole season.
Block/Gelsomino’s record was not quite as good, with two victories, a 2nd, a 3rd, and five DNFs. That still gave them 4th in the championship. Mirra finished 13th overall in the championship and 6th in the Super Production class.
In the next few weeks, watch for Part 8 – The 2010 Season.