Reigning American Rally Association presented by DirtFish National champion Travis Pastrana believes he’s just the fourth fastest driver in the championship right now.
Pastrana had a stellar 2021 alongside co-driver Rhianon Gelsomino, winning the first three rallies of the season and – aside from a crash while leading the New England Forest Rally – was inch perfect on his way to a sixth US rallying title.
Over the course of the season – in which he also won the maiden Nitro Rallycross championship title – he took four rally wins and two second places.
But this season has been more complicated for the Subaru Motorsports USA driver who was forced to miss the season-opening Sno*Drift Rally through a pelvis injury, and since returning hasn’t managed to beat his team-mate Brandon Semenuk all season.
“He won the first two rallies [we both did], he’s on point right now,” Pastrana said of his team-mate.
“Usually I can catch him on the first stage of the day, beat him or be right around there, but once he gets going he’s better right now.
“I’m looking forward to doing more of the Gymkhana series, more of the Nitro Rallycross – I need more seat time because right now I’m the third fastest here, I’m the fourth fastest on most rallies when [Barry] McKenna’s there.
“That hasn’t been the case the last couple of years so it’s been a rough start to the season.”
So far, the 2022 season has mostly been about Semenuk – winner of the 100 Acre Wood and Olympus rallies – and Ken Block who won last weekend’s Oregon Trail Rally in his Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC.
“I had the next-to-last stage [last weekend] where I was like ‘we nailed it’. We didn’t overdrive it, we didn’t underdrive it and last year that would’ve been a win,” Pastrana added.
“This year I lost 1.7s to Brandon and 1.4 to Ken. The stage before we had another perfect stage and nine tenths separated first to third so it’s wild how close everyone’s driving, it’s amazing how little mistakes everyone’s making.”
Pastrana also believes a change in navigator for Semenuk, who’s brought in Keaton Williams this season, is making a positive difference for his Subaru stablemate. He knows how influential that can be, having upped his own performances since bringing in Gelsomino in late 2020.
“I love John Hall, he’s a funny dude, he’s an awesome dude, but I tell you with Brandon since his new co-driver [has come in] it’s got that little extra edge that I feel like he was missing and I’ve gotta catch up,” Pastrana confessed.
“He’s definitely the best on the team right now and that’s tough to take. We’ll keep pushing, we’ll keep working, we’ll get more seat time and we’ll see what happens.”
The next round of the ARA National series is the Southern Ohio Forest Rally on June 9-11.
McKenna has won both the last two editions of the event but hasn’t entered this year’s rally.