It was finally time to see cars on stage and driving in anger for the Rally in the 100 Acre Woods. There were at least five cars on hand with a chance to win the event overall. All eyes were on three drivers however. Ken Block, David Higgins, and Antoine L’Estage were the leaders for their respected manufacturers. When the first car went live at 2:01pm, all gloves were off and the battle dubbed “Clash of the Titans” was under way.
Ken Block and his HFHV would take the first loop of stages early, but not by much. David Higgins and Antoine L’Estage were literally within a second of each other when the cars reached the mid leg service. This was remarkable after L’Estage suffered a spin and stall on SS2 in front of the spectator viewing area. We had the chance to speak with Antoine at service where he was really frustrated with himself. “We should be leading the event!” claimed last years event winner. Even with the error, L’Estage and co-driver vowed to keep pushing hard into the night stages.
The Rockstar Mitsubishi would not see much of the night stages however. A suspected transmission failure halted the teams advance and has forced them to retire from the event. A devastating blow to the title chances. Since the championship is only six rounds, DNFs play a major role.
The battle between Ford and Subaru would continue however. Ken Block was able to extend his lead over Higgins during the night stages. Block now holds an advatage of 18.6 seconds over Higgins heading into the final day of the event.
There are roughly 60 and change stage miles left in the event and plenty of time for Higgins to make up the gap.
Other class leaders after day 1 include Travis Hanson in SP, and Chris Duplessis in the 2WD.
The action resumes tomorrow for a long day of rally here in southern MO. We will be bringing you live tweeting where cell service is available!