The Salem News - Article

RALLY IN THE 100 ACRE WOOD: Pastrana, Block face off in Feb. 26-27 race

by Dwayne McClellan
Staff Writer

Travis Pastrana has the early lead in the national points standings in the Rally America National Championship series but faces a big challenge in the ninth annual Rally in the 100 Acre Wood Rally Feb. 26-27 in Dent County and surrounding counties.

Pastrana comes to the rally as the overall points leader after winning the Sno Drift Rally season opener last month in Atlanta, Mich. But a fierce battle can be expected over the lead, as Ken Block, who has won four straight Rally in the 100 Acre Wood events, will be competing at the Dent County rally. Block did not finish the Sno Drift Rally after a mechanical failure took him out on the first day.

Block signed with the Monster World Rally Team earlier this year and is driving a 2011 Ford Fiesta. This will be the first time he will drive the Ford Fiesta at the 100 Acre Wood.

The 100 Acre Wood rally is important to Block and other drivers. It is the second of six Rally America National Championship Series and competitors have to be in all six to have a shot at the national championship. Last year teams could choose to drop two event results from the nine national events offered.

The event kicks off Feb. 26 in Steelville with the first car leaving the Steelville City Park at 3:30 p.m. and arriving in Salem around 8:30 p.m. The event includes stops in Viburnum and Potosi.

The Feb. 27 event starts with the public visiting with the drivers and co-drivers that morning and the first car leaving the Fourth Street and Highway 19 junction in Salem at 10:30 a.m. The first car is scheduled to arrive at the courthouse 8:30 to 9 p.m.

Spectators can have access to both the drivers and cars during a "Parc Expose" Feb. 27 on Fourth Street in downtown Salem. Cars will line up and down Fourth Street at 9 a.m.

There are also spectator points in the county where certain areas have been designated. In Dent County there will be a spectator point south of Salem. Take Highway 19 South to the intersection of county road 6240 and 5510, turn left on road 5510 to the intersection of road 5600 and go right on 5600 to the spectator's area. Estimated times are from 11:15 a.m. to 12:25 p.m. and 7:15-8:25 p.m.

Adding to the competition complexity, the Subaru and Ford manufacturers are going to have to fend off the Mitsubishi powered teams of Antoine L'Estage, Bill Bacon, and Andrew Comrie-Picard, who currently rank second through fourth, respectively, in the Rally America points standings.

In the Super Production Class, Travis Hanson from Littleton, NH, is seeking to extend his lead over Chicago, Ill., resident, Piotr Wiktorczyk, and last year's Super Production winner, Jimmy Keeney. All are previous X Games competitors and are locked in a battle to take over the Super Production Class lead.

The 2 Wheel Drive Class will see particularly interesting action as New England favorite, Chris Duplessis, seeks to dominate another rally in his 1990 Volkswagen GTI and continue to challenge last year's 2 Wheel Drive Champion, Dillon Van Way, in his plaid covered Ford Focus. Duplessis is particularly noteworthy in that he consistently places in the overall top 10 in a 20 year old VW against much newer and more powerful rally cars.

Last year, a blinding snowstorm covered the area with up to a foot of snow in some areas on the second day of racing, causing race officials to cancel the final stage after conditions deteriorated. Despite the shortened event, the race was named the co-rally of the year for 2009 with the Oregon Trail Rally in Oregon by both competitors and rally officials.

Event schedules, team entries, and a spectator guide complete with driving directions can be located at Volunteers are needed and more information can be obtained by calling Rob Benowitz at 729-4212.