Travis Pastrana has got his American Rally Association presented by DirtFish season off to a superb start with a comfortable victory on the Sno*Drift Rally.
Leading the event from start to finish, Subaru Motorsports USA’s Pastrana won nine of the winter rally’s 12 stages to record a 1m08.8s victory over his team-mate Brandon Semenuk.
It gives the five-time US rally champion a vital early championship lead with defending ARA National Champion Barry McKenna back in third.
And in scoring his fourth victory on the event, Pastrana now moves level with David Higgins at the top of the Sno*Drift Rally’s roll of honor.
Although Semenuk would undoubtedly like to have beaten his team-mate in Michigan, second place topped up the Canadian’s ever-growing podium tally – he is yet to finish off the rostrum for Subaru – and it ensured the team scored the perfect result.
McKenna was never truly in the same league as the two Subaru WRX STIs in his Ford Fiesta R5+ all day, believing the rubber he was using was inferior to the Yokohama tires available to the Subaru drivers.
The Irishman chose tractionized tires on the third and final loop of four stages but these made little difference after being inflicted by an intermittent misfire, and came home over four-and-a-half minutes adrift of Pastrana.
The battle for fourth was an intense one, as several drivers stook their claim for the position only to drop out of the running.
Ryan Booth was the first of these. He was occupying the place and leading the R5 class after first service, only to slide his Ford Fiesta off the road on SS5 and wreck his hopes.
That should’ve released Enda McCormack who was debuting the Hyundai i20 R5 in the United States, but the Irishman ran into trouble of his own. First he span, and then he and co-driver Liam McCormack checked into the start of SS7 too early, incurring a one-minute penalty.
Joseph Burke and his father Seamus were enjoying a competitive early battle before Joseph, driving a Ford Fiesta R5 for the first time, was forced to retire with water temperature woes.
Seamus was then free to scoop fourth spot in the family’s Mitsubishi, over ARA Regional winner Jimmy Pelizzari who was a superb fifth.
Mark Piatkowski secured sixth in his Impreza, a mere 5.3s ahead of the penalized McCormack. He was then only second ahead of Ele Bardha, who also racked up a 60s penalty early on and then got another 10s added to his overall time too.
Adam Kimmett and Zachary Whitebread rounded out the first top 10 of the season in their Subarus.
Final positions after SS12
1 Pastrana/Gelsomino (Subaru) 1h21m51.3s
2 Semenuk/Hall (Subaru) +1m08.8s
3 McKenna/Jordan (Ford) +4m32.3s
4 Burke/Brady (Mitsubishi) +14m06.8s
5 Pelizzari/Stevens (Subaru) +17m28.7s
6 Piatkowski/DeGuiseppi (Subaru) +18m00.4s
7 McCormack/McCormack (Hyundai) +18m05.7s
8 Bardha/Roshea (Subaru) +18m06.7s
9 Kimmett/Nonack (Subaru) +19m28.1s
10 Whitebread/Vanoeveren (Subaru) +22m25.2s