Antoine L’Estage and co-driver Nathalie Richard will look to extend their overall championship lead with an overall victory in Washington this weekend. The stages will be tough for Canadian duo as the event will see the cars running up and down the coast for what promises to be a Kodak moment. The stages also house a number large rocks as well as tree stumps that can end the competition for even the most skilled drivers really quickly.
Both Travis Pastrana and Ken Block will be looking for victory this weekend as well as maybe a little luck as well. Since the championship has decreased to six rounds, the margin for error during the season is nearly gone. Both Travis and Ken have a retirement on the books heading into this weekend and will be pushing hard for maximum points. Bill Bacon and his privately owned Mitsubishi will also be looking to steal points on the west coast from the big names. Bacon has run a spectacular early season that has rewarded him with a second place overall in the championship. The Mass. fire fighter has put together a very inspiring campaign as he continues to scrape and scratch every cent together to keep the amazing season alive. Driving to the west coast form the east coast is a tough proposition for a privateer. As John from Last Ditch Racing has explained to us a number of times, moving across country with car and crew is physically and mentally draining for a team and it will be interesting to see how Bacon and crew perform.
As far as drivers are concerned, there will be a couple more surprises in store for the usual talent as reigning Canadian rally champion Patrick Richard and former Subaru of America driver Ramana Lagemann have entered the Olympus Rally and will definitely be looking to play the role of spoiler. Richard will compete in the stacked open class and Lagmann will challenge the super production class as well. The credentials between the two clearly speak for themselves and we should prepare ourselves for some surprises on the podium this weekend as all of North America’s rally talent will be out in force.
The rally itself is one of the more scenic events on the calendar as we now will see cars up and down the coast as well as some stages in the mountain areas that will provide some unique elevation changes to car and crew. For this year the rally HQ has moved to Ocean Shores, WA. This is a change from the original location in Aberdeen, WA.
What I will be watching for this weekend will of course be none other than Ken Block. While he will be in the Fiesta as opposed to the Focus, how will his international experience serve him back in the states? He has raced against the best in the world and done very well to this point. However, the mechanics of the car are different than that of the Focus and we will have to wait and see if the Fiesta has picked up any speed against that of the Subaru. It is my opinion that the stages in the WRC are far harder than those in the Rally America series. So I would think his international drives should help a lot come this weekend. Keep it here at the paddock and we will have daily updates as round 3 unfolds.