Ken Block is under pressure from Travis Pastrana for second place on the Oregon Trail Rally, but a narrow stage win on SS8 has kept the 2021 American Rally Association presented by DirtFish National Champion at bay.
Pastrana had been over 20 seconds behind Block after the first two stages of the final round of the season, overcoming a flat tire on Saturday’s first stage.
But he slashed 16.6s out of his deficit to Block on SS7 – the repeat pass of Dalles Mountain Down where Pastrana had punctured – as some electrical connections to Block’s ECU were dislodged when he hit a rough section, starving his Subaru of most of its power.
That closed Pastrana to just 4.5s behind his old rival but Block responded on Great Horse Shoe with a fully-fit WRX STI to win the stage by 0.6s over Pastrana. It gives the Hoonigan driver a 5.1s advantage with two stages of the day remaining.
Brandon Semenuk’s strong form has continued out front though. Pastrana broke his stage-winning run on Maryhill – the only asphalt stage in the entire ARA championship – and Block won SS8, but otherwise Semenuk has been the pacesetter and has thus constructed a healthy 31.5s lead.
Hamad Al-Wahaibi has been quietly impressive in his McKenna Motorsport Ford Fiesta Rally2, setting fourth quickest time on every stage so far. While he’s close to two minutes behind Pastrana, his car isn’t in the same league as the top three and his 2m15.2s advantage over anybody behind him is telling.
Javier Castro heads that pack, debuting an R4 car in the USA. Enda McCormack stole sixth from John Coyne on SS8 – his Hyundai i20 R5 leading Coyne’s Fiesta Rally2 by just four seconds – while George Plsek, Tony Torchia and Matthew Brassfield complete the top 10.
Overall classification after SS8:
1 Semenuk/Hall (Subaru) 43m50.2s
2 Block/Gelsomino (Subaru) +31.5s
3 Pastrana/Gelsomino (Subaru) +36.6s
4 Al-Wahaibi/Sircombe (Ford) +2m25.9s
5 Castro/Agesta (Toyota) +4m41.1s
6 McCormack/McCormack (Hyundai) +6m19.7s
7 Coyne/Dunham (Ford) +6m23.7s
8 Plsek/Skucas (Mitsubishi) +7m15.2s
9 Torchia/Ruston (Subaru) +7m58.7s
10 Brassfield/Berg (Subaru) +8m05.9s