The 2014 Rally America season continued this past weekend as southern Missouri was host to the second event of the 2014 Rally America Nation Championship, Rally in the 100 Acre Woods. The event was headlined by the return of Travis Pastrana to competition in addition to Ken Block returning to the event in search of his seventh Rally in the 100 Acre Woods win in the past eight attempts.
Hoonigan Racing’s Ken Block and Alex Gelsomino managed to pilot their Ford Fiesta H.F.H.V, to an overall event win, beating out Subaru Rally Team USA’s Travis Pastrana and Chrissy Beavis by five minutes with FY Racing’s Adam Yoeman and Jordan Schulze taking third.
Block stated following the event “I felt as if I had very few mistakes this weekend. Unfortunately, my top competition fell out on day two and I was able to extend my lead. It took some pressure off, which I don’t like, because I like to push hard. Instead, I was able to just enjoy these roads and put on a good show for the fans.” With both Block and Pastrana in attendance the number of spectators lining the sides of the stage roads multiplied.
Despite having recently breaking his leg in a non-rally accident, Pastrana was able to remain consistent throughout the event, stating “Subaru and Vermont SportsCar provided us with a car setup ideal for the road conditions. Our goal was to get comfortable with the car; this is a much more powerful vehicle than I had previously driven so we set a goal of bringing the car home in one piece.” Pastrana not only brought his Subaru STi back in one piece, but he did so with a second place finish.
After finishing day one of the event in second place, David Higgins and Crag Drew encountered a mechanical failure on Stage 9, forcing them into retirement. Higgins held on to his lead in the championship as although Block won the event, it is only one of two Rally America events he will run in 2014. The Rockstar Energy Mitsubishi Evolution of Antione L’Estage and Marshal Clarke was also forced into early retirement from the event with mechanical problems following Stage 10. This marks the third consecutive year in which L’Estage was forced into early retirement at the event.
Super Production saw a Subaru dominated podium as 2013 Rookie of the Year, Nick Roberts and co-driver Rhianon Gelsomino took first place in their Subaru STi by less than a minute over Dillon Van Way and Andrew Edwards. “It’s pretty surreal at this point,” added Roberts, “Never thought there was a chance to win. We worked hard on our notes and pedaled the car the best that we could.” stated Roberts.
The battle for third in the Super Production class came down to David Sterckx and Karen Jankowski beating out Evan Cline and Jake Blattner by a margin of only .3 seconds. Sterckx, who had dealt with gearbox and overheating issues on Friday, overcame their mechanical issues with a very consistent drive on Saturday. Cline and Blattner battled throughout the weekend while testing for Maxxis Tires, Cline stated during the second service on Saturday, “Maxxis gave us these tires to test and so far they are great, no wear issues and we haven’t had a flat.” It was great to see these two out on stage, the pair brings strong competition to the Super Production class and always put on a great show for the fans.
In a unfortunate accident, the Super Production Class lost a big contender before the race even started as Lauchlin O’Sullivan and Scott Putnam lost control on a practice stage hitting a tree in the co-driver’s front quarter. The pair escaped injury, however their Subaru STi took enough damage to prevent them from competing in the event.
The Two Wheel Drive class saw the Team O’neal prepared Ford Fiesta of Andrew Comre-Picard (ACP) and Ole Holter take the win by 2 minutes over Scion Racings XD of Matthew Johnson and Jeremy Wimpey. After a dismal Sno*Drift, Comre-Picard set out to prove his move from Scion to Ford was the correct choice. Comrie-Picard stated following the event, “This event really favors high horsepower for faster speeds, but we were exact with the Ford Fiesta and we did what we came here to do.” Third place went to Troy Miller and Jeremy Miller, who entered the event as their second time competiting, both times finishing with a podium.
Will Hudson and Brian Szykowny lead most of the event until their Ford Fiesta was damaged following a big jump on stage 13 forcing them to retire, although their landing was rough and the car took some damage, both Hudson and Szykowny managed to escape any injury.
Keep a look out for our coverage of the regional events which also took place this past weekend in the coming days. A full list of results can be found here: http://rally-america.com/events/2014/100AW/results
The 2014 Rally America season continues with a trip out west to the Oregon Trail Rally, scheduled to take place May 2 – 4 in Portland, OR.
Photos by Josh Tons