Travis Pastrana is continuing to boss the opening round of the American Rally Association presented by DirtFish season as he now leads the Sno*Drift Rally by close to a minute after eight stages.
Pastrana had headed into the second of three loops of the winter rally 9.9 seconds up on his Subaru Motorsports USA team-mate Brandon Semenuk, with reigning ARA National Champion Barry McKenna 28.5s behind.
But Pastrana – who hasn’t competed on Sno*Drift for over a decade – began to flex his muscles after first service as he won each of the four stages to extend his lead to exactly 50s over Semenuk with four stages left to run.
Semenuk was fulfilling his own objectives however, preserving a Subaru one-two ahead and keeping McKenna at bay. While he may be disappointed to have lost so much time to Pastrana, he had promised he wasn’t “looking to make any hero moves” on Pastrana.
McKenna has now lost all touch with the leaders, dropping over 20s to Pastrana on each stage – and as much as 55.8s on SS7 – to lie 2m40.5s adrift of the lead in third place.
“We really made the wrong tire choice there, so we’re going to go on a tractionized tire,” McKenna told DirtFish.
“We dropped a lot of time in there, it was bad. So we’re just going to get it over the line now. We’re not catching anybody and I don’t think we’re getting caught if we play a safe game.”
Behind the front three it’s all change as Seamus Burke is fourth in his Mitsubishi, 7.5s ahead of Enda McCormack.
Burke, who usually pilots a Ford Escort Mk2, has opted for the increased grip and security of four-wheel-drive for Sno*Drift. However it wasn’t all plain sailing as a puncture on SS6 and then an engine misfire on the following stages slowed him.
On pace alone McCormack would be fourth, but he finds himself in fifth place after receiving a one-minute time penalty for turning up to SS7 one minute early. The Hyundai i20 R5 pilot also spun throughout the loop but emerged unscathed.
Ele Bardha is sixth, 39.0s ahead of ARA Regional leader and fellow Subaru Impreza driver Jimmy Pelizzari.
Mark Piatkowski, Adam Kimmett, Mart and Travis Nease complete the top 10 after Scott Banes was also penalized a minute.
Ryan Booth was holding fourth before service but left the road in his Ford Fiesta R5 on SS5; a mistake that was repeated by the similar car of John Coyne on the very same corner.
Joseph Burke had been lying sixth overall on debut in his Ford Fiesta R5 but he retired one stage after Booth with a water temperature issue.
The same four stages will now be repeated for a third time but under the cover of darkness as light begins to fade in Michigan.
Leading positions after SS8
1 Pastrana/Gelsomino (Subaru) 52m45.0s
2 Semenuk/Hall (Subaru) +50.0s
3 McKenna/Jordan (Ford) +2m40.5s
4 Burke/Brady (Mitsubishi) +9m49.0s
5 McCormack/McCormack (Hyundai) +9m56.5s
6 Bardha/Roshea (Subaru) +10m48.4s
7 Pelizzari/Stevens (Subaru) +11m27.4s
8 Piatkowski/DeGuiseppi (Subaru) +12m04.0s
9 Kimmett/Nonack (Subaru) +12m26.1s
10 Nease/Carr (Mitsubishi) +13m43.1s