Pastrana makes it three with Olympus success
Travis Pastrana has maintained his 100% start to the 2021 American Rally Association presented by DirtFish National season by winning round three, the DirtFish Olympus Rally.
The Subaru Motorsports USA driver, co-driven by Rhianon Gelsomino, won both the Sno*Drift and 100 Acre Wood Rallies before sealing the perfect hat-trick in Washington, triumphing over Ken Block and Alex Gelsomino by 1m07.4s.
It was Block’s first rally back in a Subaru since 2009 and his second consecutive second place to Pastrana, having been the 100AW Rally runner-up in a Škoda Fabia R5+.
Hyundai Motorsport junior driver Josh McErlean, 21, finished third and top of the RC2 class, winning the notorious Wildcat stage – the first ever overall stage win of his rallying career – to also net his first ever outright podium.
Brandon Semenuk had been a major factor in the battle too, pushing his team-mate Pastrana hard to head into the opening day’s final test – the aforementioned Wildcat – just 3.6s behind the five-time US rally champion.
But the Candaian was caught out in the treacherous conditions, clipped a bridge and retired his WRX STI from the rally. The damage proved too great for him to play any further part on Sunday.
Reigning ARA National Champion Barry McKenna was supposed to contest his second event in his new Ford Fiesta WRC but withdrew on the eve of the rally for personal reasons.
These non-scores, coupled to Pastrana’s third victory for as many rounds, give the Subaru driver a commanding lead in the series standings.
He won six of the Olympus Rally’s 11 stages with Semenuk scoring three and McErlean and Block both grabbing one apiece.
After a run of four straight retirements, Ryan Booth brought his McKenna Motorsports Ford Fiesta Rally2 home in fourth place, albeit over three-and-a-half minutes down on class rival McErlean.
Booth was content with his performance though on his first time out in the latest-generation Fiesta, but did profit from the misfortune of his team-mate Callum Devine who, like McErlean, was sampling US rallying for the first time.
Devine had been running within 20s of his Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy stablemate on the opening day but was battling with a mechanical issue aboard his Ford.
The problem eventually proved to be insurmountable and Devine called it a day after the first of Sunday’s stages, retiring from what was fourth position.
Jeff Seehorn was another retiree, exiting the event from seventh place on Saturday’s final test when an outer tie rod broke on his Subaru and pitched him straight off the road and into a tree.
All the calamities allowed John Coyne to grab fifth spot in his Ford Fiesta R5, two minutes ahead of two-wheel-drive winner Seamus Burke in his Ford Escort Mk2.
Seventh place went to Matthew Brassfield, who was penalized a minute in his Subaru Impreza but still finished over a minute clear of Derik Nelson’s Subaru BRZ. Nelson had been leading the 2WD class throughout Saturday but ran into trouble on Sunday.
He performed valiantly on the final stage of the rally though to vault up from 11th to eighth, surging past Travis Nease, Ace Robey and André D’Orazio and profiting from George Plsek’s non-apperance in the final stage to claim the position.
Nease slid outside of the top 10 but Robey finished just a single second behind Nelson and D’Orazio was only another 3.2s in arrears.
The ARA National series now takes a seven-week break with the next round, the Southern Ohio Forest Rally, running on June 11-12.