Both Subaru WRX STIs of works drivers Travis Pastrana and Brandon Semenuk have encountered power issues on the first full morning of the Oregon Trail Rally, allowing Ken Block to establish a big lead.
Block has won all four of Saturday’s stages so far in his Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC to carve open a 40.8-second advantage at the head of the pack, but he’s been aided by both Subaru Motorsports USA entrants being slowed.
Defending American Rally Association presented by DirtFish National champion Pastrana was first to suffer, dropping a massive 26.3s on the second stage – Dalles Mountain Up – reporting that he was maxing out on the straights at just 70mph.
He estimated that it was a motor problem, but it looks to have been fixed for the two asphalt stages Maryhill and Goodnoe Hills after service.
“The car had no issues in there and we had two really good stages,” co-driver Rhianon Gelsomino told DirtFish.
“We beat Brandon but he seemed to be having the issues we were having before so, yeah, Ken pulled away from us both again. We’ve moved into second, Brandon third but I don’t think we’re going to be able to touch Ken, unfortunately.”
Semenuk is 5.6s down on his team-mate and believes he was experiencing the same issue that Pastrana had earlier in the day.
“I’m pretty sure we had the same issue, I don’t know why,” the championship leader told DirtFish.
“It’s not a problem that we’ve had, it could’ve been something with the Tarmac, with the maps for the car, who knows. But yeah, we’re here, we did what we could and hopefully we won’t have any more issues and we can start working back on our times.”
Block meanwhile reported no issues and has enjoyed being able to stretch his Hyundai on just his third rally with the car.
“I’m extremely happy today, we haven’t had any issues,” he told DirtFish.
“Obviously our top competitors have had some issues today and I’ve just had a good, clean run with zero issues, so I’m stoked to have a good lead.
“We’ve had some luck but I’ll take it after two bad luck events. Hopefully we can keep it going.”