Travis Pastrana is the new leader of the 100 Acre Wood Rally after Saturday’s opening loop of stages as former leader Barry McKenna slid to fourth with a puncture.
The stages on the second day were more technical in nature than the flat-out tests on Friday, and McKenna began the leg 12.2 seconds ahead of Subaru Motorsports USA’s Pastrana.
Reigning American Rally Association presented by DirtFish National Champion McKenna was only fourth fastest on SS7 but was awesome on Loop Southern – the longest test of the rally – to beat next-best Pastrana by 12.7s and double his lead in the process.
However it would all unravel on SS9 Scotia North as the Ford Fiesta WRC pilot picked up a flat tire and lost a massive 2m43.8s to stage winner Pastrana to slip down to fourth, 2m21.9s down on the new leader.
“We lost a lot of time and Travis passed us,” McKenna told DirtFish at the end of the stage.
“That sucks, he had a really good lead on this rally but we still have a battle on for the lead,” added Pastrana.
Pastrana now finds himself with a healthy cushion at the front of the pack, leading the Škoda-driving Ken Block by 42.1s and Subaru team-mate Brandon Semenuk by 1m37.2s. At the start of the day, just 20.3s separated the top four.
Just as he had done on Friday, the returning Block won the opening stage of the day – Asbridge Hollow – in his Fabia R5+ to climb past Semenuk on the leaderboard and into the final podium place in third.
In beating the Subaru by four seconds on the stage, Block opened up a 2.5s advantage over the Canadian. But any thoughts of a Semenuk comeback were thwarted on SS8 Loop Southern as he dropped 1m33.3s to stage winner McKenna and 1m14.6s to Block with damage to the side of his car.
Seven-time 100AW Rally winner Block was slow on the final stage of the loop however, allowing Semenuk to close to back within a minute. With five stages of the rally remaining, Block has 55.1s in hand over Semenuk.
“First stage was amazing and I nailed it and won the stage and then the second stage this car was just too stiff over the rough stuff and I lost some time, so it is what it is,” Block said to DirtFish.
“I tried to push hard on this stage, I ended up hitting a bank and getting a puncture so I lost more time but I’m trying!”
Jeff Seehorn’s under-the-radar drive in fifth place has continued, as the Subaru driver has struggled to keep pace with the leading quartet but is comfortably ahead of the scrap behind him which is headed by Seamus Burke’s Ford Escort Mk2.
Just 6.6s covers seventh to ninth places, with John O’Sullivan currently holding sixth in his Ford Fiesta R5 ahead of Alek Bialobrzeski’s Subaru Impreza and Enda McCormack’s Hyundai i20 R5.
Michael Hooper is 10th but just 2.7s in hand over John Coyne (Ford Fiesta R5) in 10th.
Paulo Ferreira was another to fall off the leaderboard; the Mitsubishi E9 driver was sixth at the start of Saturday.
Ryan Booth did restart however after a power distribution unit failure on Friday. The Ford Fiesta R5 driver was fifth on SS7, fourth on SS8 and then third fastest on the loop-ending SS9.
Leading positions after SS9
1 Travis Pastrana/Rhianon Gelsomino (Subaru) 46m45.2s
2 Ken Block/Alessandro Gelsomino (Škoda) +42.1s
3 Brandon Semenuk/John Hall (Subaru) +1m37.2s
4 Barry McKenna/Leon Jordan (Ford) +2m21.9s
5 Jeff Seehorn/Glen Ray (Subaru) +4m33.7s
6 Seamus Burke/Martin Brady (Ford) +7.27.5s
7 John O’Sullivan/Cameron Carr (Ford) +8m15.3s
8 Arek Bialobrzeski/Aris Mantopoulos (Subaru) +8m19.1s
9 Enda McCormack/Liam McCormack (Hyundai) +8m21.9s
10 Michael Hooper/Kevin Allen (Lexus) +9m03.4s