With little time to post poetic about today's triumph, we will keep this one short so all of us at Monster World Rally Team can get back to packing for our rush to WRC Rally Mexico in a few hours. But the quick and dirty, and most important part, is that Ken Block and Alex Gelsomino have secured their 5th consecutive win at the Rally in the 100 Acre Wood.
Monster World Rally Team for 2010!
After months of speculations the news are now official. Ken Block and Alex Gelsomino will be part of the brand new Monster World Rally Team in 2010, competing in the Rally America championship with the Open Class 2011 Ford Fiesta and in 7 events of the prestigious WRC with a Ford Focus World Rally Car run by M-sport. Stay tuned.
In-car video of the Concord Pond stage record run is now live.
The stage is part of the New England Forest Rally, that runs every year in July. Enjoy the record run of the 5.4 miles stage, set by Ken and Alex in 2009. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LTFcyeZMEds
Block and Gelsomino triumph in Pennsylvania!
It was a dual podium finish for SRT USA at the 2009 Susquehannock Trail Performance Rally! Ken Block and Alex Gelsomino dominated the event, building a considerable lead on the first stages and holding their ground to the finish. Teammates Travis Pastrana and Christian Edstrom finished second, running an extremely clean rally and furthering their lead in the Rally America National Championship. The day started off in classic STPR fashion with the chicken barbeque and Parc Exposé on the green in downtown Wellsboro, Pennsylvania. Droves of fans mingled with rally drivers, collected their signatures, and wished them luck before the ceremonial start to day 2 of the STPR event. The weather was beautiful and residual moisture kept dust to a minimum. The race took drivers over ten stages varying in length from a sixteen-mile stage to the one-mile Subaru Super Special at the Tioga County Fairgrounds.
With gold in their sights, Ken and Alex overcame previous bad luck at this event and put on an excellent performance. Winning all three stages Friday and five stages on Saturday, team #43 proved beyond doubt that they have the skill and drive to trounce the competition. It was great see Ken and Alex at the top of the podium with a well-deserved win.
Olympus Rally win..goes up in smoke.
Ken Block and co-driver Alex Gelsomino had their sights set on their third victory of 2009 at the Olympus Rally, after winning the previous Rally America round, The Rally in the 100 Acre Wood, as well as the non-championship Rally New York USA event. Block leapt into the lead at the start of the Olympus Rally, winning half of Day One’s eight stages to amass a lead of over twenty seconds. However, Block’s impressive run was halted early the next day when his Subaru experienced engine trouble, forcing him out of the event. “Although we hit some bad luck my confidence is boosted from our stage times on the first day where the competition was so good and everyone was going flat-out. The next round in Oregon has roads similar to Olympus so I’m sure we will have the speed again there,” said Block.
Another tarmac win. Rally New York 2009!
(April 8, 2009) For the second straight year, Subaru Rally Team USA driver Ken Block has won Rally New York USA in dominating fashion, gapping the closest finisher by nearly three minutes in his Monster Energy 2007 Subaru Impreza WRX STI. Block and his co-driver Alex Gelsomino were nearly untouchable on the slick, rain-soaked tarmac roads and won an incredible 18 of 23 stages. Rally New York USA featured over 100 miles of high-speed technical asphalt roads in the southern Catskill Mountains of New York, about 90 miles north of New York City.
Rally New York USA does not serve as a round in the 2009 Rally America National Championship, where Block currently sits tied for 3rd overall in the standings after winning round two, the Rally in the 100 Acre Wood. Block entered Rally New York USA to extend his experience on tarmac, this being Block’s second full rally ever on the surface. The event also featured FIA style two-pass reconnaissance which Block and Gelsomino are always keen to gain more experience. Block entered the event with his older specification Open Class 2007 Subaru Impreza WRX STI because his 2009 spec Subaru STI is in-transit to the west cost for the upcoming Olympus Rally.
Rainy conditions throughout the weekend made for extremely slick conditions, but Block drove a mistake-free rally and was never seriously challenged. "This was only my second tarmac event and I think my experience here last year really helped," explained Block. "We drove a clean and consistent rally and our Subaru was perfect as usual, so we were able to push when we wanted to. It all paid off with a great win."
4-Peat at Rally Missouri!
Subaru Rally Team USA's Ken Block and Alex Gelsomino have done it again! With an unbelievable four wins in four years, Ken and Alex seem untouchable at this event—in rain, shine, or snow. Prior to entering the last few stages of the event, Car #43 had extended their lead to well over a minute. With an amazing eight inches of fresh snow, Ken was faced with the tough task of churning through unplowed accumulation. Fortunately, the buffer built up by his speed and determination was sufficient for them to still end the event with a fourty-three second lead. When asked what he thought about the snow, Ken said, "I was terrified that the rally was going to end in the trees, but we made it!"
The other Monster Energy team of Dave Mirra and Derek Ringer also had a hugely successful weekend. Scoring top-tier stage times, Dave Mirra was first in the Super Production class for nearly the entire event and has proved to be a formidable rally driver. Starting at third overall on Day 2, Mirra held his position for most of the day until the snowy weather threw him a curve-ball and he was out-paced by his top competition who have more snow experience. Choosing a safe strategy, Mirra wisely slowed down and drove within his means, still finishing second in-class, missing first by only three seconds. For a rally driver who has yet to complete a full season, this is an outstanding result and Dave and Derek should be proud of their performance at this rally. Placing first in the new Super Production class were Matt Johnson and Jeremy Wimpey in their Subaru Impreza WRX. In third were Piotr Wiktorczyk and Grzegorz Dorman, also driving a Subaru.
Despite the moderate chaos caused by the snowstorm, this year's 100 Acre Wood Rally was a terrific success with a greater fan presence than ever. With Ken Block and Travis Pastrana having won an event each, they are tied for points in the Rally America National Championship. As Subaru Rally Team USA heads for the west coast, the pressure on the two teams to gain the upper hand for the championship title. Rest assured there will be plenty more action to come from SRT USA this season.
5th win of the season! Block and Gelsomino back on top at the Lake Superior Rally.
(October 20, 2008) Subaru Rally Team USA's Ken Block and Alex Gelsomino have won the 2008 Lake Superior Performance Rally (LSPR) in dominating fashion, winning by over one minute after leading from the start. The victory at LSPR, the 9th and final round of the 2008 Rally America National Championship, lifts Block to a 2nd place overall finish in the championship. His Subaru teammate, Travis Pastrana, who mathematically secured his 3rd straight Rally America National Championship at the previous round, finished 3rd overall. LSPR concludes another banner year for SRT USA with wins at six of nine events plus team drivers Pastrana and Block finishing 1st and 2nd, respectively, in the Rally America National Championship.
Ken Block and his co-driver Alex Gelsomino entered LSPR locked in a battle for 2nd Overall in the championship with young privateer Subaru driver Kyle Sarasin and top Canadian driver Andrew Comrie-Picard. Block's season has been one of ups and downs; after a strong start to 2008 with multiple wins he then experienced a string of poor results and misfortune which helped Pastrana take control of the Rally America Championship. At LSPR, Block and his co-driver Alex Gelsomino returned to form and were virtually untouchable in their 2008 Subaru Impreza WRX STI. Block jumped into the lead on the first stage and went on to win an impressive 11 of 17 stages, gapping his closest rival by over a minute.
Block and Gelsomino triumph in Canada! First overall at Rallye Baie des Chaleurs.
(July 1, 2008) Subaru Rally Team USA driver Ken Block earned his maiden Canadian rally victory this past weekend at Rallye Baie-des Chaleurs in Quebec, round three of the 2008 Canadian Rally Championship. The win was the first for Subaru Rally Team USA's new 2008 Subaru Impreza WRX STI on only its second event. Block and his co-driver Alex Gelsomino dominated the rally on their way to a victory with over a two-minute margin against a very strong contingent of Canadian rally veterans.
The Canadian Rally Championship is comprised of six events held across Canada in a season that extends from February to November. Rallye Baie-des Chaleurs, round three, is one of Canada's most popular rallies and attracts thousands of rally fans who create a festive atmosphere unrivaled by any other rally in Canada or the USA. This year, the rally featured 115 miles split into seventeen competition stages over two days. The stages all ran near the town of New Richmond on the south short of the Gaspe Peninsula.
Block's primary goals at Rallye Baie-des Chaleurs was to test the new 2008 Subaru Impreza WRX STI before the next Rally America round, the New England Forest Rally (July 11-12) while gaining some additional two-pass style reconnaissance experience ahead of his three Production World Rally Championship events later this year (New Zealand, Japan, Great Britain).
"It's great to get my first Canadian win here, especially on such a difficult and competitive rally," explained Block. "I am getting better with the 2008 Subaru STI. There is a bigger transition than I expected from the 2007 STI, but this new car has more potential for speed than I'm ready for right now! We just need more time in the car, and we'll get even more out of it."
Block was simply flying, literally. Rallye Baie-des Chaleurs features one of the largest jumps in North American rallying, the Camp Brule jump, where Block flew 115ft in his Subaru in front of thousands of spectators. "We got beat by 1ft for the longest jump of the rally!," said Block.
Although Block finished in the top two on 15 of 17 stages his path to victory wasn't entirely trouble free. Early on stage three Block smacked a bridge with the rear corner of his Subaru, nearly tearing off the rear wheel. Block limped through the stage and luckily made it to the following service stop, where Subaru Rally Team USA technicians repaired the damage. "The transit back to service was tense, I had Alex (Gelsomino) hang out the door to counter balance the car as the left rear wheel was nearly off the car, that bridge impact could have ended our rally." said Block. Later in the rally Block experienced a tire puncture that cost him more time, however by that point Block had amassed a sizable lead of well over two minutes while his top rivals experienced their own share of problems.
Next up for Block is the New England Forest Rally, round six of the 2008 Rally America National Championship, July 11-12.
The Canadian Rally Championship is broadcast on RDS (French) and TSN (English) throughout Canada. Check local listings for air dates. Photos and more news about Rallye Baie-des Chaleurs can be found at www.flatovercrest.com
Subaru Rally Team USA is proudly supported by Subaru of America, Subaru Tecnica International (STI), Subaru Performance Tuning (SPT), DC Shoes, BFGoodrich Tires, Boost Mobile, Recaro, Alpinestars, Motul, Exedy, GReddy, PIAA and Vermont SportsCar. For team news and information please visit www.subaru.com/rally
Block and Gelsomino win the Olympus Rally, lead Rally America Championship.
(April 20, 2008) Subaru Rally Team USA dominated this weekend's Olympus Rally, in eastern Washington with drivers Ken Block and Travis Pastrana scoring an impressive 1-2 finish. Rally winners Ken Block and Alex Gelsomino, at the wheel of their BFGoodrich Tires-shod 2007 Subaru Impreza WRX STI led from the start of the rally and were the class of the field, winning or tying 12 of the 16 total stages. Their teammates, two-time defending Rally America National Champion Travis Pastrana, codriven by 1995 World Rally Champion Derek Ringer finished just twenty four seconds behind in second overall. This is the second 1-2 finish in a row for Subaru Rally Team USA, and Block now has a commanding lead in the championship, with Pastrana moving up to fourth with 6 rounds remaining in the Rally America National Championship series.
Block has proven himself a dominant force on high-speed roads like those in Pomeroy and he and co-driver Alex Gelsomino continued that trend from the start of the Olympus Rally by grabbing the lead on the opening stage and never looking back. "The speeds here were amazing," said Block. "We hit 135mph on one stage and later had some drama on another when we drove on the rim at over 120mph after losing a tire due to a puncture!" This is Block's third successive rally victory after winning The 100 Acre Wood Rally (Round 2), and Rally New York, an all tarmac, non-championship event. "This is a great way to start the season, and it gives me a lot of confidence going forward." explained Block at the podium.
Block and Gelsomino dominate at Rally New York.
(April 7, 2008) Subaru Rally Team USA Ken Block and Alex Gelsomino dominated this past weekend's Rally New York USA event, earning a convincing win by over four minutes in their Monster Energy 2007 Subaru Impreza WRX STI. Block and Gelsomino entered the event with the intent to gain FIA-style reconnaissance experience and for personal enjoyment. This rally does not serve as a round in the 2008 Rally America National Championship, where the California duo currently top the standings after winning round two, the 100 Acre Wood Rally.
Rally New York USA featured over 100 miles of high speed and technical asphalt roads in the Catskill Mountains of New York. Rainy conditions on the first day of competition made the roads slick, but it was mechanical troubles that caught out Block's closest rivals early into the event. Block and Gelsomino then ran away with the event, winning 23 of 27 stages on their way to a nearly four-and-a-half minute victory.
Outright win for Alex Gelsomino on his 100th start!
SUBARU DOMINATES THE 100 ACRE WOOD RALLY FOR THIRD CONSECUTIVE YEAR
(February 24, 2008) Subaru Rally Team USA driver Ken Block and co-driver Alex Gelsomino have won the 100 Acre Wood Rally, round two of the 2008 Rally America National Championship in dominating fashion for the third year in a row. The duo grabbed the lead on the first stage and then went on to win over half of the event's fourteen stages driving their 2007 Subaru Impreza WRX STI. Block's Subaru teammate Travis Pastrana was within striking distance of Block for a majority of the rally, but when a late rally charge failed to close the gap, the 24 year-old two-time defending Rally America Champion settled for 2nd Overall.
For Alex Gelsomino, this rally marked his 100th rally start, and it was only fitting that he could celebrate the milestone with a victory.
Block and Gelsomino dominate again in Missouri.
(Feb 24,2007) Subaru Rally Team USA driver Ken Block has won the 100 Acre Wood Rally, Round 2 of the Rally America National Championship, driving his BFGoodrich Tire shod 2007 Subaru Impreza WRX STI. Block and his co-driver Alex Gelsomino dominated the rally from the first stage, building an insurmountable lead while the rest of the field fought for 2nd Overall. Block's Subaru Rally Team USA teammates, defending Rally America National Champions Travis Pastrana and Christian Edstrom, won that hard fought battle for 2nd overall after moving up the standings during the second half of the rally.
The 100 Acre Wood rally took place over two days, covering more than 100 miles of challenging dirt and gravel roads near the Mark Twain National Forest, of south central Missouri. Clear weather on Friday gave way to torrential rain and heavy winds on Saturday, testing the driver's ability to adapt to changing conditions.
Block's speed was unmatched all weekend and his lead was never threatened as he won seven of the event's fifteen stages. "I really like these roads, we pushed hard without taking too many chances and I was surprised by how much faster we were than everyone else. We were able to really back off at the end of the rally and let the other guys fight for the final podium spots." explains Block. "This win means a lot to me because the first win of my rally career was here last year, so it feels good to come back and taste victory again!"
Block and Gelsomino to compete in Mexico WRC and New Zealand Rally Championship.
(February 23, 2007) Subaru Rally Team USA driver and 2006 Rally
America National Championship runner-up Ken Block announced today an
expansion to his 2007 rally program that will see him contest five
International events in addition to contesting the full 2007 Rally
America National Championship. Block's confirmed International rounds
include Word Rally Championship events in Mexico and New Zealand plus
three rounds in the New Zealand Rally Championship. Block's expanded
program is made possible in part by increased support from sponsor
Monster Energy Drink and continued support from Subaru of America,
Block's 2007 Subaru Impreza WRX STI rally car, run by Subaru Rally
Team USA, will debut a new, black color scheme of Monster Energy Drink
at this weekend's Missouri based 100 Acre Wood Rally, Round 2 of the
2007 Rally America National Championship. Block enters the Rally in
the 100 Acre Wood event as favorite to win having taken victory on the
event, the first rally win of his career, in 2006.
Block currently leads 100 Acre Wood Rally after the first day of
competition, after winning four of the day's five stages and amassing
a lead of 26 seconds.
At the Corona Rally Mexico (March 9-11), a round of the World Rally
Championship, Block will compete in a the Group N class alongside
Travis Pastrana, his Subaru Rally Team USA teammate. "Monster has
really stepped up their support of my efforts and are fully behind
what I'm doing in rally. Their help will further advance my rally
career in 2007," says Block.
Block will also be heading to other side of the world, to New Zealand,
where he will drive a Group N Subaru with Sam Murray's RallyfaNZ team
in four rounds of the New Zealand Rally Championship, including WRC
New Zealand. The New Zealand program is made possible through
sponsorship from Fram.
Block will continue to work alongside his veteran co-driver Alex Gelsomino.
Block's newly launched website, www.ken-block.com will feature
exclusive news, videos and photos of his expanded 2007 rally program
including event schedules.
Block and Gelsomino win their second Rally of the season. Pastrana and Edstrom are National Champions.
Subaru Rally Team USA driver Ken Block and co-driver Alex Gelsomino have won the Lake Superior Performance Rally (LSPR), the penultimate round of the 2006 Rally America National Championship. But the celebrations had already commenced yesterday when their teammates Travis Pastrana and Christian Edstrom mathematically secured the overall driver's and codriver's titles after their chief rivals crashed out of the rally early. Pastrana, at only 23 years-old and in only his 2nd season of rallying, becomes the youngest ever American rally champion.
"We wanted to win here and we pushed really hard all day to do it," said Block. "I knew Travis wouldn't push as hard as we were because he had the championship locked up yesterday and had no reason to take risks." With the victory at LSPR Block is now just one point shy of second place overall in the driver standings heading into the final round, the Wild West Rally based in Olympia, Washington.
Block and Gelsomino win Bronze at Xgames, share podium with motorsports legends.
Aug 5,2006) - The first ever X Games Rally has ended in spectacular fashion with Travis Pastrana and Christian Edstrom edging out WRC legend and Subaru teammates Colin McRae and Nicky Grist to win Gold at the wheel of their BFGoodrich Tires shod Subaru Impreza WRX STI rally car. But it was Colin McRae who stole the show after he rolled his Sobe No Fear Subaru on the final jump of the course, landed on his wheels and drove to the finish for the Silver Medal. Subaru Rally Team USA driver Ken Block, and his co-driver Alex Gelsomino, netted 3rd and the Bronze Medal. The event was broadcast live on ABC and thrilled thousands of new fans at The Home Depot Center in Los Angeles. It was a clean sweep for Subaru and Vermont SportsCar as all three cars on the podium were Vermont SportsCar prepared Subaru Impreza WRX STI rally cars. The huge crowd on hand at the X Games was enthralled, it was a storybook ending to an event that will greatly boost rallying's popularity in North America. "You couldn't have asked for a better ending," said Bronze medalist Ken Block. "Even our battle for 3rd was hard fought to the very end, it's an amazing feeling for our team to occupy all three podium spots."
Ken Block and Alex Gelsomino going for Gold at XGames 12.
Subaru Rally Team USA' Ken Block and Alex Gelsomino have been selected to compete at the XGames 12, this coming August in Los Angeles. The Xgames are widely known as the "Olympics of Extreme Sports" and will include for the first time Performance Rally. The complete list of athletes invited to XGames 12 is available at www.xgames.com The official Rally America Press Release: X Games 12 to feature top international rally talent. A hotshot motocrosser, a World Rally champion and a multi-time U.S. champion are among the drivers who will battle it out for Gold at the first-ever X Games Rally this August in Los Angeles. WRC veteran Colin McRae -- known to fans as one of the most successful rally drivers of all time and the man who lent his name to a wildly popular series of driving video games -- will race against a raft of homegrown talent, including motocross superstar turned Subaru Rally Team USA driver Travis Pastrana, eight-time U.S. champ Paul Choiniere and 2005 Rally America champion, Pat Richard. Also selected to compete are: D.C. Shoes founder and Subaru Rally Team USA driver Ken Block; 2005 Production GT champion and stunt driver Tanner Foust; and 2005 North American and Rally America Open class champion Matt Iorio. “These competitors have a lot of talent and we’re really proud to have them representing rally at the X Games,” says Rally America spokesman J.B. Niday. “We’re going to show America what some of the best driving in the world looks like.” This year’s X Games Rally will feature a dozen teams competing for a gold in Open class cars. Rally America is awaiting final confirmation from several more drivers who have been invited to compete, and the last two spots will go to the top finishers of the next two rounds of the championship – the Susquehannock Trail Performance Rally in early June, and the Maine Forest Rally in July. “There are going to be a lot of people very eager to try for X Games Gold – especially with such a competitive field already named,” says Niday. “The Rally America series is always exciting, but the chance to qualify for the X Games will up everybody’s game for the next two rounds.” The X Games Rally will also feature a demonstration of two-wheel drive talent, although there is no word yet which Rally America competitors will be selected. Speed factors and podium finishes in the 2005 and 2006 championship were among the key factors considered by the X Games Rally selection committee for the Open Class competitors. The Rally America national championship is a challenging, all-season series comprised of nine events across the country, beginning with Sno*Drift in January and wrapping up 12 months later with the Reno Rally in Reno, Nevada. The annual X Games is the premier action sports event in the world, featuring athletes from across the globe competing for medals and prize money in sports including BMX Freestyle, Moto X, Skateboard, Surfing and Rally. X Games 12 will be telecast live on ESPN and ABC.
Block and Gelsomino dominate in Missouri.
Subaru Rally Team USA driver Ken Block has won the 100 Acre Wood Rally, Round 2 of the Rally America National Championship, driving his 2006 Subaru WRX STI. Block and his co-driver Alex Gelsomino won the rally in convincing fashion, winning eight of the rally's 17 stages and amassed an insurmountable lead of nearly two minutes before wisely slowing up to take their first Overall rally win, and the first win for the new 2006 Subaru WRX STI. The100 Acre Wood rally took place over two days, covering more than 100 miles of challenging dirt and gravel roads near the Mark Twain National Forest, of south central Missouri.
Block's teammate, X-Games and motocross star Travis Pastrana started Day 2 of the rally in the lead and their biggest competition was each other, as they pulled away from the rest of the 50 plus car field. But Pastrana and his co-driver Christian Edstrom were forced to withdraw from the event after making contact with a tree. "We were on the inside of a very fast bend when I hit something under the leaves, a rock or a tree stump," explained Pastrana. "Whatever it was it was really solid because it ripped the steering wheel right out of my hands and I clipped a tree with the rear of the car. I'm really upset because my Subaru felt so good all weekend and I was happy with my driving."
After Pastrana withdrew, Block and co-driver Gelsomino continued to increase their lead on the rest of the field before backing off and cruising to victory. "What a great feeling, my first rally win, it is something I'll never forget," grinned an elated Block. "Although it's unfortunate what happened to Travis, our outright speed throughout most of the rally made us confident that we will be fighting for more victories this year."
Block and Gelsomino will now fly straight to the Corona Rally Mexico, Round 3 of the World Rally Championship to perform reconnaissance of the route in order to prepare for a 2007 entry at the Corona Rally Mexico as well as other WRC rounds.
They both look forward to their next Rally America event, Round 3 in Portland Oregon at the Oregon Trail Rally. The popular event is held in the lush forests of western Oregon, April 21-23.
Subaru Rally Team USA is proudly supported by DC Shoes, STI (Subaru Tecnica International), SPT (Subaru Performance Tuning), PIAA, MOTUL and Alpinestars.
Visit rally.subaru.com for event updates and photos.
Block and Gelsomino land a Factory Drive for 2006. They join Subaru Rally Team USA.
After a strong 2005 North American Rally season, Ken Block and Alex Gelsomino have secured a factory drive for Subaru Rally Team USA in the 2006 Rally America Championship. Subaru of America Press Release: CHERRY HILL, N.J., Dec. 1, 2005 -- Subaru of America, Inc. today announced it has signed Supercross and Motorcross Champion, multi-time X Games gold medalist, and up-and-coming rally star Travis Pastrana to lead Subaru Rally Team USA (SRT USA). Under the terms of the multi-year agreement, Travis Pastrana will challenge for the title in the Rally America National Championship piloting his world-class 2006 Subaru Impreza WRX. "Subaru has a strong heritage and successful history in rally racing – winning numerous manufacturers' and drivers' titles in the World Rally Championship (WRC)," said Rick Crosson, vice president of marketing, Subaru of America, Inc. "Travis Pastrana is a good fit for the Subaru brand with his natural driving ability, pioneering spirit, and will to win. We are confident that his participation in the Rally America National Championship will attract new fans to the sport, further enhancing its popularity in the U.S." SRT USA consists of a two-car team led by Travis Pastrana. Joining Mr. Pastrana is the co-founder and president of DC Shoes and 2005 Rally America Rookie of the Year, Ken Block. The pair will drive in nine Rally America events in their 2006 Subaru Impreza WRX vehicles prepared by Subaru Motorsports partner, Vermont SportsCar. "Rally is an incredible sport that demands high-level preparation, focus, and tremendous skill," said Travis Pastrana, driver, SRT USA. "I know what it takes to be a champion on two wheels, and I'm excited to now be rallying for Subaru in what I consider the best all-wheel-drive machine." Subaru is world-renowned in the WRC, and Subaru of America is committed to the growth of rally racing and its popularity in the United States by providing support for rally privateers as well as a dynamic factory effort with Subaru Rally Team USA. Since 2001, SRT USA has earned drivers' and manufacturers' championships in the SCCA ProRally series. In 2006, SRT USA will again challenge for the national title in the Rally America Championship.
Ken Block wins 2005 Rally America Rookie of the Year.
Author: Chris Yandell - Vermont Sportscar
Ken Block hadn’t set foot in a rally car prior to October 2004, yet a year later he has been crowned Rookie of the Year by Rally America while establishing himself as one of the fastest American driver’s in the sport today. Block spent most of the season battling seasoned rally drivers on the extremely demanding rally events that make up the 8-round Rally America National Championship. Block, a 38-year-old California native piloted his Vermont SportsCar prepared 2004 Subaru WRX STI rally car to 4th Overall and 3rd in Group N (3rd only to current US Champion Patrick Richard and former World Rally Champion Stig Blomqvist).
Block’s day job is what got him into rallying in late 2004. As Co-Founder and President of skateboard shoe and apparel company DC Shoes, Ken sponsors some of action sports biggest stars. One such DC Shoes sponsored athlete is Supercross/Freestyle Motocross/X-Games star Travis Pastrana who began rallying with Vermont SportsCar in 2004. “When my company DC Shoes began to sponsor Travis Pastrana in 2004 I was eager to get involved in his rally racing efforts. I also thought it would be the perfect opportunity to go do something that has always been a dream of mine; to go rally racing. And, as a bonus, I get to do it with one of our biggest athletes,” explains Block.
The key to Block’s success was consistency and a level head. He always made it a goal to finish every rally and not push beyond his limits. He finished 6 of 8 events in the top 10, with one Overall podium (a 3rd Overall at the Maine Forest Rally) and an impressive three Group N class podiums. “Ken is the most focused driver we have ever dealt with and his results prove it,” adds Vermont SportsCar’s team owner Lance Smith.
Another key to Ken’s success has been his experienced co-driver Alex Gelsomino, an Italian native living in California. “He drives the notes (the co-driver’s detailed road instructions) the way it should be done and that really is the only secret for a rookie driver", explains Gelsomino. “Above all though we have not seen Ken’s top speed yet and I’m really looking forward to next season to see what we can achieve,”
Although his effort for 2005 was a privately funded one, Ken would like to thank the following companies for their support; DC Shoes, Vermont SportsCar, Subaru of America, Shift Racing, Meguiar’s, Michelin, and Industrial Board Shop.
For 2006, Ken is looking forward to being more competitive with the top US competitors. “This year’s goal was to get experience and see if I could compete at a high level,” explains Block. “I drove fairly conservatively so that I could finish as many races as I could and get as many miles in as possible. But, I also proved that I can be near the top of the leader board. Now that the original goals are complete, it’s going to be fun to step up the speed and compete with the faster players in the sport!”
“In the ‘80’s when I was sliding my VW around in the snow, I really had no idea what I was doing, but it sure was fun,” says Block. “But now, I have been taught how to really slide cars around and do it at very high speeds! I love this sport and look forward to many years of pushing it as far as I can.”
To get more info on Ken and his teammate Travis Pastrana, go to www.dcshoes.com/rally for photos, interviews and exclusive videos.
Strong end of the 2005 season for Block and Gelsomino.
Travis Pastrana and his Vermont SportsCar teammate Ken Block have
finished 2nd and 3rd in Group N at the 2005 Lake Superior Rally, the
final round of the Rally America Championship. The duo battled through
two days of rain and variable road conditions in their all-wheel-drive
Subaru WRX STi rally cars to claim podium positions against a field of
much more experienced rally drivers. The strong finish for Block
means he finishes the year 3rd in the Group N standings as well as
achieving Rookie of the Year honors!
The Lake Superior Pro Rally is revered by rally drivers for its
difficult conditions, which typically include high speeds on
tree-lined roads with variable levels of grip. The rally covered over
80 miles of competitive special stages along the northern tip of the
Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The rally featured mostly gravel or hard
packed dirt roads and one hair raising paved mountain road. With Lake
Superior and stunning fall foliage as a backdrop, light to moderate
rain kept the drivers on their toes all weekend.
Pastrana was nursing a broken collarbone from a motocross accident
last weekend, but his pace was unaffected. He and his veteran
co-driver Christian Edstrom all but secured their 2nd Overall finish
on the first night of the rally with a stunning display of speed.
Pastrana was comfortably in 2nd Overall after winning two of the
night's six stages outright. After crashing at the last rally while
battling for the rally lead, Pastrana was content to hold on to 2nd
Overall for the remainder of the rally and gain experience safely.. He
then drove his Subaru WRX STi rally car just fast enough on Saturday
to keep the hard charging field behind him. "This was a lot of fun, we
had no problems at all and I didn't put a scratch on the car, its been
a great season and I can't wait for next year," exclaimed Pastrana at
the podium champagne spray.
Ken Block and his co-driver Alex Gelsomino didn't have it so easy.
They battled all weekend and had to charge through the difficult
conditions to claim 3rd in the Group N class. "I'm not very confidant
driving at night yet, I don't have the experience yet, so we lost some
time Friday and had to fight for it back on Saturday," explained DC
Shoes Co-Founder and President Ken Block. Ken and Alex attacked on
Saturday, even winning one stage outright, but stayed within their
limits on the slippery roads, "One of the stages was so slippery it
was worse than driving at a snow rally, you had grip one second and
then absolutely nothing the next," explained Ken. Ken earned the final
Group N podium spot behind his teammate and friend Travis Pastrana.
The strong finish here at LSPR secured 3rd Overall in the Group N
season standings for Ken, with Travis close behind in 4th. Following
the rally Ken was crowned Rookie of the Year for his amazing rise to
the top of the sport in such a short time period. Ken's first rally
was less than a year ago and through training with Vermont SportsCar
and guidance from his veteran co-driver Alex Gelsomino, Ken is now one
of America's top rally drivers alongside Pastrana.
Vermont SportsCar's 2006 rally plans will be announced shortly, stay tuned.
Peter Workum and Alex Gelsomino win at the Grand Canyon!
In the hands of the regular drivers Peter Workum and Alex Gelsomino, the OSLV Italia sponsored Subaru STI took a convincing win on the challenging three-day FIA sanctioned Ramada Express Rally.
This event, known as the most challenging and richest rally event to take place in North America, took the 50 plus competitors along some of the fastest roads ever experienced in rallying against the back drop of the glorious Grand Canyon. With little time for sight seeing the Autosport Engineering designed car, established a commanding leading of 2 ½ minutes by the time the teams returned to Laughlin at the end of leg two. With Wolfgang Hoeck and John Dillon sitting in a comfortable second overall, first in Group N, the battle for third place was between George Plsek and Stephen Verdier who were separated by less than 11 seconds.
Leg three on Sunday consisted of four 1.5-mile super special stages. 2003 proved the rally could only be lost here when two of the leading competitors roll their cars in the soft sand. No incidents this year as all drivers drove cautiously two ensure their positions were safe.
Peter Workum, obviously delighted with his first outright win commented, “Stage one gave us a fright as we experienced a fuel pick-up problem which cost us some time and almost the rally. Fortunately Stephen Verdier was able to help us and we managed to get back to service where our crew pinpointed the problem to a low-pressure fuel supply issue. We ran the entire rally with a full fuel load from this point on, but this didn’t hinder us at all. The car ran faultlessly, and combined with Alex’s timing on the high-speed roads, I found the confidence to push the car far beyond what I have done in the last six rallies. I’m overwhelmed with our team’s performance and look forward to contesting the 4 round USRC in 2005.”
Alex Gelsomino was no stranger from the winner’s circle on this event having competed here on four other occasions and winning in 2002. “This win tops them all” was his reply when asked about the event. “I have sat with Peter on six events this year and he has been getting faster and faster. I always knew this could be a good event for us as the OSLV Italia Subaru has yet to be unleashed, showing it’s full potential. These roads suit this car and it would have been difficult for anything to match its performance. Peter drove a fantastic rally and I felt as though we were improving with every mile we covered.
Finnish experience for Alex Gelsomino.
Alex Gelsomino attended the Jakke Honkanen Rally School in Klaukkala, Finland the last week of September. Honkanen, top finnish codriver with over 50 WRC events in his background, runs a Rally school in Southern Finland, where he teaches rally driving and pacenotes techniques.
"The current American championship doesn't allow stage recce at the moment and this tuition has been a priceless experience for me. The Finnish drivers and codrivers are leaders in the sport and being able to learn from somebody like Jakke is definitely something that I was looking forward to add to my CV".
The Italian native and California resident codriver will now concentrate on the Lake Superior Rally in Michigan, last event of the SCCA ProRally season, where the Air Force Reserve Rally Team will try to secure third place overall and first indipendent in the championship.
Unfortunate weekend in Maine.
The Air Force Reserve Rally Car driven by Tim O'Neil with navigator Alex Gelsomino finished out of the points after crashing in the final stage of the Maine Forest Rally in round six of nine in the 2003 championship while closing in on fifth place. Team Air Force Reserve had been hoping for a better result as the two were coming off their season-best finish with a strong second place in the previous round in Portland, which was the teams third consecutive podium finish. The DNF was the first for the Air Force Reserve Ford Focus since the first round of the season in January.
"It wasn't really our weekend this weekend," said driver Tim O'Neil. "I didn't get into my normal rhythm, and we were just a little off from the start. There was a pretty big gap to the leaders by the second day, but we were in our own battle for fifth and I was catching O'Sullivan in the last stage. Unfortunately, though, I just made a mistake and we hit a tree sideways in the right rear and that ended our rally. I tried to get going again, but we just couldn't go after that. We'll get the car fixed in time for the next rally and we should do better next time."
Navigator Alex Gelsomino had been helping O'Neil as he was clawing away at the gap to fifth place as the two charged through the final 22-mile stage in the beautiful Maine forest near Rumford.
"It's a bit heartbreaking to come so close to the finish and not be able to get any points," said Gelsomino. "I feel really badly for the guys, but that's the nature of the sport. Tim and I had a good debrief after the event, and I'm looking forward to the next rally. Everyone runs into some bad luck, and hopefully this was ours for the rest of the season!"
Tragic weekend in Oregon.
ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE. Ga. – The Air Force Reserve Rally Car driven by Tim O’Neil and navigated by Alex Gelsomino finished second place overall in the Oregon Trail ProRally race, Oregon, in round five of nine in the 2003 SCCA ProRally Championship series. The second place finish is the best this season for the Air Force Reserve Rally Car. Its strong finish, however, was overshadowed by the tragic loss of Mark Lovell and Roger Freeman, who perished in an accident during the first stage of the rally.
“The result was good, but everything was secondary this weekend to what happened,” said Gelsomino. “We kept driving for those guys, since we knew that was what they would have wanted. There is a lot of sadness, losing such incredible competitors who were ambassadors for the sport.”
“I am happy with the way we are getting up to speed in the car, but like Alex said, that was really not important this weekend. You just had to put it out of your mind and go do the job we were there to do,” said O’Neil. “It was difficult, but we are professionals, and that is what is required of us. It’s the same thing in the military--you have to go out and do what you are trained to do, knowing that there are risks involved, and knowing that if anything happens, you are still called upon to do your duty. We will keep racing for those guys. The Air Force Reserve Rally Car Team extends its deepest sympathies to the families of Lovell and Freeman.
Third place at Pike's Peak for O'Neil and Gelsomino!
ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Georgia - In round four of nine rounds in SCCA ProRally Championship, Tim O’Neil, driver of the Air Force Reserve Rally Car scored third place in the 81st running of the Falken Tires Pikes Peak International Hill Climb with a time of 12:13.60. O’Neil drove the Air Force Reserve Ford Focus, which was prepared by AV Sport.
This was the first time for this event to be included in the overall SCCA ProRally Championship as a points event. Mark Lovell took the win in class with a 11:39.63 run up the 12.42 mile course.
The Pikes Peak event provided the field with some unique challenges, and the format is distinct from any other round in the championship. The course begins on a hard packed surface, and varies as the drivers race toward the clouds, putting crucial emphasis on set up and tire selection. The rally is also only one stage, which puts a premium on the ability to perform in a high pressure situation. The Air Force Reserve Rally Car did just that with a fast time, and a safe finish, to take third in O’Neil’s fifth run up the mountain, but first time in the Open Class.
“I’m very happy overall with the way this rally went,” said O’Neil. “It was nearly two minutes faster than I have ever gone up the hill. Of course, there are some spots I think I could have done better, but that’s the way it is anytime you don’t win. I am constantly trying to find the best time while making sure we finish the rally and score some points, and I keep moving my comfort level in the car up as I get more miles in it under my belt. Having our own pace notes for this event made a big difference to me, giving me confidence to drive the car like it was the last lap of the Indianapolis 500 in some sections!”
O’Neil is happy with not only his own progress, but also too with how much potential he feels that this combination has, saying he and co-driver Alex Gelsomino are working well together as a team. “I am making fewer and fewer mistakes inside the car, and we just keep getting faster, so I am looking forward to the rest of the season to see how far we can move up.”
Gelsomino had previous experience at Pikes Peak, but felt as though this was his best experience on the mountain. “The third place finish was really fantastic, nearly as good as the feeling when we crossed the line at the top,” said Gelsomino. “It was just a dream! This is a really patriotic event, and we could feel the support of the fans as we went up the mountain, they really liked that we were driving an American car with the colors of the Air Force Reserve. Tim did an outstanding job in the car as well, to keep focused and to manage the engine cooling while still driving for a very fast time. He is really getting a handle on that car, and I am looking forward to the rest of the season as we become even more competitive.”
The mountain setting also creates havoc for the engine, as it must operate at peak output while dealing with vastly different environments as the car gains thousands of feet in elevation on the run. Andy Brown of AV Sport believes that the testing that the team did in preparation for the Pikes Peak event played a big role in the team’s strong performance.
“This is a fantastic result for us to score a podium considering the level of competition Tim was up against,” explained Brown. “The challenge of performing at this altitude is unlike anything we do. To see the factory teams suffering from failures shows how truly difficult this event is. This was a strong driver from Tim, and it shows his maturity in the car to find the right speed to be competitive but to still preserve the equipment.”
The SCCA ProRally Championship is a flat-out race over closed sections of rural roads by modified production automobiles, with each car racing against the clock rather than directly against each other. O’Neil Racing competed in the Group N Class in 2002 and has moved up to the Open Class in 2003 with the Team Air Force Reserve Ford Focus.
First Podium of the season for O'Neil and Gelsomino!
Wellsboro, Pennsylvania- In round three of nine in the SCCA ProRally Championship, the Air Force Reserve Ford SVT Focus, driven by Tim O’Neil and co-driven by Alex Gelsomino, finished second overall, bringing their current point standing to second in the season championship.
O’Neil’s finish is the best of the season for the Air Force Reserve Ford SVT Focus and O’Neil’s best since returning to full-time racing last season. The rally, which has a history of high attrition, proved difficult once again, taking out a high percentage of racers in the course of the one-day event. O’Neil and Gelsomino proved up to the challenge, as they kept their car damage free to finish on the podium.
Rainy conditions in advance of the event created a challenge not only for the drivers, but also too for the organizers, who were forced to cancel stage one after the rain made a water crossing too dangerous.
'This rally was very challenging,' said O’Neil. 'It rained heavily for the week leading up to the rally, so the roads were quite wet. It was grippy enough 90 percent of the time, but it was that last 10 percent that made things interesting. You weren’t sure what you were going to get as you entered braking zones and some of the corner exits, so you had to be careful.'
O’Neil humbly attributed his strong result to the high rate of attrition, but believes that he is getting faster every time the Air Force Reserve Rally Car starts a rally.
'Right now, I am still working on getting comfortable in the car, and having a mistake-free rally. Every time we race, I am getting closer and closer to that, and looking forward to Pikes Peak to keep coming up to speed,' said O’Neil.
In the world of SCCA ProRally, finishing the rally is ultra-important to the season-long points battle, and the result in Wellsboro means that the Air Force Reserve Rally Car will head to the next rally, at the famous Pikes Peak Hillclimb in Colorado Springs, Colorado, with a strong start to the season.
'The points are good for us to get our season going as the events become increasingly more frequent,' commented O’Neil. 'That’s only going to help us get closer to the factory guys, since they benefit from all the running and testing that they do. You have to finish these rallies to get points, and while I think we have some speed to make up, its good to get the miles under the car, particularly when so many of the guys ran into trouble here.'
Positive result after an unlucky weekend at Rim of the world Rally in California.
The Air Force Reserve Rally Racer took fifth place overall and fifth place in
the Open Class in the Rim of the World Rally Race, California, after
overcoming significant challenges from the weather, course conditions and mechanical
The rally was shortened after the heavy precipitation made the stages nearly
impassable. The finish is the first of the season for the Air Force Reserve
Rally Racer, that crashed out of the season-opening SnoDrift Rally in January
after having set very fast times in the opening stages. Driver Tim O'Neil and
navigator Alex Gelsomino were happy with the finish, as it gives the team ten
championship points toward the season-long overall championship.
The Engine Control Unit on the 2003 Ford Focus burned out before the rally
began and O'Neil's team had to scramble to track down the correct part from
Maine and have the unit reprogrammed so he get started in the rally. The last
minute repairs got the car rolling, but the Focus was not entirely fixed for the
rally, providing O'Neil with another set of challenges beyond the stages
themselves and the competitors in the Open Class, the fastest class in SCCA ProRally
"My intention for this race was primarily to get to the finish and I'm happy
we were able to do that, particularly given all the challenges we had this
weekend," said O'Neil." We were fortunate to even get started after the ECU blew
out before the rally even began and we have to thank some of our competitors
for helping us track down the parts we needed to get going. This is a very
competitive sport, but no one wants to win in the garage and we appreciated the
The electronic issues with the car were compounded by the conditions of the
rally with rains creating a very humid cockpit, and reducing visibility for
"The conditions were difficult and in the early stages I could not see much
...our windshield was fogged up a lot of the time, keeping me from going too
fast," said O'Neil. "There were some electronic issues with the engine
management as well, so we never really were running full power in the Focus. While that
hurt us here, it's only encouraging for the next rally. Once we get these
teething problems sorted out and I get myself completely up to speed in the
Focus, I think we will be very competitive."
The SCCA ProRally Championship is a flat-out race over closed sections of
rural roads by modified production automobiles, with each car racing against the
clock rather than directly against each other. O'Neil competed in the Group N
Class in 2002 and has moved up to the Open Class in 2003 with the Air Force
Reserve 2003 Ford Focus.
Report from the Sno*Drift Rally, round one of the SCCA Prorally Championship.
The Air Force Reserve Rally Team opened our 2003 season at the Sno Drift Pro Rally in Atlanta, Michigan on January 24th.The team arrived early in the week for testing. While we expected cold weather in Michigan in January, no one could have predicted the — 30-degree temperatures that would greet us on that first day. Fortunately, it warmed up to +10-degrees the following day and basically stayed that way the rest of the weekend. Of course it snowed almost continuously.The big question in testing was tire choice. The SCCA does not allow the use of the metal studs used in the World Rally Championship. Those studs give an incredible amount of grip even on glare ice. Without those studs rallying in the winter is a very slippery proposition. The team spent a day and a half testing different tires finally deciding to go with Blizzaks, which are a very conventional looking, commercially available winter tire.Since this was the first event with the new car, the strategy was to run an even pace and see how it went. The cars departed from the park expose in Hillman, Michigan on Friday evening and the rally was on.By the first service, after stage three, it was pitch dark which made the icy, forest roads even more interesting. It didn't seem to bother Tim, or his co-driver Alex Gelsomino, as they came into the first service running third overall only 21 seconds behind leader Mark Lovell of the Subaru factory team. The words “even pace” must mean different things to different people, although most of us would have agreed that it didn't mean going faster than three of the four Subaru and Mitsubishi factory drivers. Tim seemed comfortable however, so we mounted up the lights and sent him off into the snow-swept darkness.Unfortunately, our luck ran out on stage 5. On a sweeping right hand corner on glare ice at about 70 miles per hour, Tim missed a shift from fifth to fourth gear. He got second instead. The mistake locked all four wheels and pitched Tim off the outside of the road. He had one chance to save it but saw that if he did he would hit 5 huge wooden fence posts that lined the side of the road. He decided to hit the smaller trees instead and let the car slide off the road ending up in a small ditch behind the posts. Our rally was over.Although, overall, the weekend was a disappointment, we were encouraged by the early stage times. The car suffered moderate damage to the engine, suspension and body work, but it wasn't nearly as bad as it would have been had he hit the posts at that speed.We are planning two tests at AVSport in Phoenix before heading out to the Rim of the World Rally on May 2nd.
Alex Gelsomino to co-drive for the Air Force Reserve Rally Team in the 2003 North American Championship.
Alex Gelsomino to co-drive for the Air Force Reserve Rally Team in the 2003 North American Championship. Air Force Reserve Rally Team moves up to SCCA Open Class for 2003On the heels of a second place finish in the 2002 SCCA Group N championship, the Air Force Reserve Rally Team will make the move to Open Class competition this year.The Reserve program is extremely proud to be represented in the SCCA Pro Rally Championship, according to Colonel Francis Mungavin, Commander of the Air Force Reserve Recruiting Service. The teamwork, technology, and tenacity required to succeed in this series mirrors the strengths used by Reservists to complete their military missions.2003 also marks the introduction of the Air Force Reserve Ford SVT Focus AWD to the SCCA Pro Rally Series. A Mountune turbocharged, 16-valve, Cosworth engine operating through a six-speed gearbox and a FFD AWD system powers the Focus.Leading the Reserve Team again this year is driver Tim O'Neil from Franconia, New Hampshire. Running a limited schedule in 2002, O'Neil scored three Group N wins for the Air Force Reserve. An Air Force veteran himself, O'Neil has spent the last 20 years as a professional rally driver. He is the winner of five U.S. and North American rally championships and has driven for the Volkswagen and Mitsubishi factory teams. O'Neil has competed in the world famous 1000 Lakes Rally in Finland and currently runs the Team O'Neil Rally School.Joining the Reserve Rally Team this year is Alex Gelsomino, co-driver from Los Angeles. Gelsomino started rallying at the age of 17 in Italy in the Opel, Peugeot and Renault one-make series. He began rallying in the U.S. in 1998 co-driving in the Group N and Open classes. He competed in the Rally of Wales, finished on the podium at the Pike's Peak Hill Climb and took an overall win at the Ramada Express International Rally last December.Andy Brown, team principal of AVSport in Phoenix, handles the technical aspects of the Air Force Reserve Rally Team. Brown started rallying in England and soon moved on to the World Rally Championship as a technician with Austin-Rover. This was followed by stints with GM, Nissan, and Ford. He has prepared cars for World Rally champions Tommi Makinen, Ari Vatanen, Stig Blomqvist, Miki Biason and Carlos Sainz, as well as drivers Francois Delecour and Alister McRae. In one of the biggest upsets in U.S. Rally history, AVSport took an unsponsored, independent team and defeated three factory teams to win the 2002 SCCA Pro Rally Championship.For more information about the Air Force Reserve Rally Team and Reserve Program, log on to their website at www.afreserve.com
First International victory for Alex Gelsomino!
For Immediate Release 12/16/02PHOENIX, Arizona AV Sport completed an outstanding season this weekend with Mark Nelson and Alex Gelsomino taking the team’s second consecutive victory at the Ramada Express Rally in Laughlin, Nevada.Nelson was driving an AV Sport Subaru for the first time and drove faultlessly, beating Rhys Millen’s Mitsubishi by three minutes. Tim O’Neil was third overall and first in Group N in his Air Force Reserve, AV Sport prepared car, putting two cars on the podium for the last event of the season.“Mark drove an excellent rally, considering he was driving a mildly modified Group N car and showed great maturity in adapting to the Subaru,” commented team principal Andy Brown.This win confirms AV Sport as the most successful team in U.S. rallying this year, taking a total of six national victories in twelve months and seven Group N wins.
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