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  • Alasdair Lindsay

Block crashes out of Olympus in 12G impact

Ken Block’s DirtFish Olympus Rally has come to an early end after he crashed out of the third round of the American Rally Association presented by DirtFish National championship on the third special stage.

An early three-way fight for the lead had emerged between Block and Subaru drivers Brandon Semenuk and Travis Pastrana.

Semenuk struck first with a stage win on Kuhnle Up but after dropping 6.2 seconds on the rally’s opener, Block responded with the fastest time on Schafer Long.

Pushing for the lead Block then went off on Deckerville and crashed into trees, registering a 12G impact. Both he and co-driver Alex Gelsomino were OK after their off.

Block’s off left reigning champion Pastrana alone to mount a charge against his team-mate, taking a stage win to narrow the lead gap to a mere 0.6s.

Pastrana conceded he’d had to push himself beyond the limit to claw back time from Semenuk late in the opening loop, after being taken aback by the championship-winning mountain biker’s pace.

“We drove the best I’ve driven maybe ever here at Olympus on the first stage and Semenuk still took three [seconds] of out us,” Pastrana told DirtFish.

“It’s so difficult because we still had two or three moments where it’s just so slippery, that getting out of the line on a 100mph stuff and it’s so narrow, you’re in the woods so quick.

“On that last stage, we just said if we want a chance at this, we’re all so close, we went 11 tenths, almost died twice. Scariest stage of my life.”

Pastrana’s quest to claw back time was aided by a mistake by Semenuk only a few corners from the end of the first loop, as he dipped his WRX STI into a ditch, dislodging the rear bumper in the process.

Barry McKenna has been on the pace, going faster than Pastrana on Schafer and only 0.1s off Semenuk’s pace on Deckerville.

But despite that promising pace from the Ford Fiesta WRC driver he’s already 38.1s off the lead in third place, as a stall on the first stage of the rally cost him over half a minute.

Before McKenna’s revival the final podium spot was a battle of the Rally2s, as Tom Williams and 10-time US champion David Higgins closely mirrored each other on the opening loop.

Wiliams narrowly had the edge in his newer McKenna Motorsport-run Fiesta Rally2 example but Higgins kept him under pressure throughout in his ERA Motorsport Citroën DS3 for fourth.

Across the first two stages Williams could only find 0.7s over Higgins but a strong run on Deckerville allowed the Brit to extend his advantage to 5.1s.

But their battle has already ended, as Higgins retired during first service with a broken steering rack.


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