Travis Pastrana has provisionally claimed the 2021 American Rally Association presented by DirtFish National title, winning the Ojibwe Forests Rally for a record seventh time.
Pastrana beat Ken Block by just over 30 seconds on round six of the season, and in winning his fourth event of the year, has put the championship out the reach of his rivals.
It’s the sixth US rallying title of Pastrana’s career – his first since 2017, a title he also clinched on Ojibwe – while it’s the first US national title for co-driver Rhianon Gelsomino.
Pastrana has looked like a title favorite ever since his domineering start to the season with three victories in succession. But in Minnesota, he drove like a true champion too with a wise tire call, running with more cuts on his rubber, to open up a near 40s lead over Block on just two stages.
With chief rivals Barry McKenna and Brandon Semenuk both absent due to work commitments and a testing crash respectively, Pastrana had to just manage his gap during the weekend and bring his Subaru WRX STI home, avenging for his penultimate stage crash on the New England Forest Rally that could have cost him the title.
But that error was successfully atoned for on Ojibwe Forests Rally, and he has now racked up 105 points with team-mate Semenuk only able to achieve a maximum of 104 this season if he won the remaining two events.
Block was already out of the title equation due to missing the opening round and his plans to miss the final one too, but after a difficult couple of rallies the Hoonigan Racing Division driver came home in second for the third time this season.
Ryan Booth rounded out the podium; a popular result as despite his strong pace on previous rallies, this was his first ever ARA podium.
His Škoda Fabia R5+ finished comfortably clear of Tom Williams’ Ford Fiesta Rally2. Williams, the godson of 2001 World Rally Champion Richard Burns, was rallying in the US for the first time and picked up his pace towards the end of the rally to regularly punch in top-three stage times.
Enda McCormack claimed fifth spot in his Hyundai – his best result in the car – after a long rally battle with John Coyne. However Coyne slipped down to ninth in his Fiesta Rally2 come the end of the event because of a problem on SS12 of 15.
Mark Piatkowski and Ele Bardha were locked in an epic battle with their Subaru Imprezas all rally long, but in the end it was Piatkowski that prospered by less than 5s to secure sixth place, with Barda seventh.
Two-wheel-drive winner Seamus Burke claimed the title with eighth overall and his fourth class win of the season in his Ford Escort Mk2, while rival Derik Nelson rounded out the overall top 10.