WILLISTON, Vt. – The Rally in the 100 Acre Wood, the second round of the Rally America National Championship, in Salem, Mo., on Feb. 21-22 is expected to reunite popular action sports drivers for one of the more anticipated entry lists in recent memory.
Subaru Rally Team USA announced last January that X Games action sports icon and star of the Nitro Circus television show, Travis Pastrana, will return to stage rally racing since trying his hand in NASCAR the last few years. Pastrana is a four-time Rally America Champion. He last competed with Rally America at this very event in 2011, but suffered a stage one crash that ended his event early.
Pastrana will begin his Rally America season at the Rally in the 100 Acre Wood with veteran co-driver Chrissie Beavis. He is expected to contest six rounds this year.
Pastrana joins Subaru Rally Team USA teammate and rival, David Higgins, who himself is a five-time U.S. rally champion. Higgins took an important first step towards his title defense with a first place win at the Sno*Drift Rally held in January to open the Rally America season. Now he returns to Missouri as the man to beat, and to the site where he took the overall win the previous year.
Rally America heavyweight, Ken Block from Hoonigan Racing, will begin 2014 at the Rally in the 100 Acre Wood to try for his seventh event overall victory. Block holds the most Rally in the Acre Wood wins of any driver, but was unable to add a seventh to his stable in 2013. This time he faces an even more difficult task from the likes of Pastrana, Higgins and Rockstar Energy Drink Rally Team’s Antoine L’Estage, of which all are viable top podium finishers.
Antoine L’Estage is one of the more experienced and fierce competitors in the Series. After trying his hand in other rally cars last season that included a Tiburon, Mitsubishi WRC Lance, and a Subaru WRX STI, L’Estage reunited with his familiar Mitsubishi Lancer EVO X for 2014. At Sno*Drift L’Estage finished second place keeping within striking distance to Higgins the entire event.
The Super Production (SP) Class began the season with a Sno*Drift win by Lauchlin O’Sullivan and co-driver Scott Putnam. The pair dominated on the icy conditions, however, the 2012 SP Champions will have to prove that they can fend off an improved SP entry field on faster gravel conditions at the Rally in the 100 Acre Wood.
2013 SP Champions, David Sterckx and Karen Jankowski, will use the event to recover from a Sno*Drift fourth-place finish to close the points gap and reinsert themselves into the hunt. Young Dillon Van Way, with co-driver Andrew Edwards, has demonstrated amazing speed after switching from 2WD competition to the 4WD Super Production Class. Van Way has stood on the podium in all four events he entered as an SP driver.
The Two-Wheel Drive category was expected to be a hot battle between Ford Racing’s Andrew Comrie-Picard (ACP) and Scion Racing Rally xD’s Matthew Johnson. That battle never materialized once ACP lost nearly 36 minutes from being stuck in a snowbank, leaving Johnson to cruise to the class victory. Now the two top drivers are ready to square-off and restart the heated rivalry the fans are expecting.
Rally in the 100 Acre Wood should provide a less icy playing field that will favor big power and faster speeds. Ice and snow have made an impact in years past and the unpredictable weather will certainly keep teams guessing what strategies to adopt and which tires to place their bets.
The Rally in the 100 Acre Wood begins on Friday, Feb. 21 with a Parc Expose in Steelville, MO at 12 p.m. Fans can meet the drivers and view the rally cars before competition begins. Spectator guides will be available onsite.
The popular Postosi, Mo., super special stage will take place on Friday at 3 p.m. Parking is available adjacent to Lions’ Park to watch the cars tackle a 0.52 mile stage from start to finish.
The rally will continue on Saturday, Feb. 22 with another Parc Expose in downtown Salem, Mo., at 8:30 a.m. Fans are also welcome to visit the service area held in the Dent County Commons and celebrate with the winners at the podium champagne spray outside the Dent County Courthouse at approximately 7 p.m.