Rally AmericaWHAT: Sno-Drift Rally, the first event in the nine-event 2008 Rally America National Championship Series season.The Rally America National Championship Series is the premier rally-racing series in the United States. Competitors reach speeds well over 100 mph in modified street cars on natural-terrain courses of gravel, dirt or snow. Qualifying Rally America drivers are invited to compete in the Summer X Games, the annual leading action-sport event that is broadcast live on ABC and ESPN.WHERE: Atlanta, Mich.WHEN: Friday, Jan. 25 and Saturday, Jan. 26DISTANCE: 117 stage miles/290 total miles2007 EVENT WINNER: Travis Pastrana2007 SERIES CHAMPION: Travis PastranaPRE-EVENT QUOTES:Quotes from selected Rally America National Championship Series drivers about the Sno-Drift Rally on Jan. 25 and 26 in Atlanta, Mich. (Drivers listed in alphabetical order):AMY BEBERVANZO (No. 14 Subaru Impreza WRX): As part of the only female driver/co-driver pairing in national rally competition, do you feel any added pressure? “There’s no pressure there, whatsoever. There are obviously a lot of proven women co-drivers and several proven women drivers in the world. I don’t think there’s any disadvantage at all. In fact, Aubrey (Volger, co-driver) and I can ride on the added excitement of being the only all-female team running. Rally is a sport where it doesn’t matter what gender you are. It’s staying focused, staying on the road and working well within your team that counts.” About the challenges of a new team and a new car (BeberVanzo moves from a Mitsubishi to a Subaru for 2008): “Being in a new car on the snow is actually great because I won’t have any expectations of the vehicle based on a bunch of rallies driving it on gravel. My plans for the first rally are to keep it clean, keep learning, stay relaxed. We have a great opportunity for building camaraderie in the car. It’s like jumping into the deep end for me and Aubrey because we’ve never even met in person, let alone run a rally together before. We’ll be testing ourselves under a lot of different and challenging conditions at Sno-Drift.”KEN BLOCK (Third overall, 2007 Rally America National Championship Series) (No. 43 Subaru Rally Team USA Subaru Impreza WRX STI): “Sno-Drift is always a challenging event, as the conditions are some of the trickiest of the whole series. It’s always a bit of a lottery, with grip conditions changing literally by the hour. Last year was a bit of a struggle for us, but we are confident that this year the one-pass recce will provide a bit more consistency on those stages. It’s very important to gain good points at Sno-Drift. To leave Michigan with a lot of points usually puts you in top shape for the championship hunt. The last few events in 2007 were very good for us as far as confidence and speed, and we are looking forward to continue on that path. We’ll obviously hunt for a win at every event in 2008, but we are aiming especially at those rallies where we have had bad luck in the past seasons, and Sno-Drift is one of those.”ANDREW COMRIE-PICARD (10th overall, 2007 Rally America National Championship Series; 2006 Sno-Drift winner) (No. 20 Slowboy Racing Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9RS): “I look forward to Sno-Drift every year. I love seeing all the teams roll in from California getting scared by the conditions. We’re used to this stuff. On the one hand, it’s a snow and ice (and maybe mud) event, which can be challenging for tire choice and strategy of when to push. On the other hand, amongst snow events, it’s one of the most consistent in terms of surface and traction. Having won it in 2006 and led it in other years, we’re pretty confident of our chances. The key is to stay on the road.” About the level of competition: “The competition in the Rally America Series right now is just awesome. At any event, you’ve got up to nine teams that could legitimately win. We all just want to test how good we are. Right now, there’s nowhere better to do it.” About goals for the 2008 season: “We started 2007 running near the top, then had a series of heartbreaking mechanical failures thanks to developing a new car. The goal for 2008 is faultless reliability. The speed will take care of itself.”MATTHEW JOHNSON (2006 and 2007 Rally America Production GT champion; will advance to Open class competition in 2008) (No. 46 Hankook RalliSpec Subaru Impreza WRX STI): “Sno-Drift is a mixed bag of goodies – you never know what to expect. Some years at Sno-Drift, it’s so slick you get slapped around a lot and sent home broken-hearted. Other years, we have some snow to get traction, and you can get away with a lot of speed and feel like a stud again. It’s hard to know how much to push and how fast to drive at Sno-Drift. If you get sucked into the trap of trying to go too fast, it’s really easy to slip up and stuff it. Often the sides of the roads have rocky dirt banks that are frozen just waiting to cut one of your tires, but with a delicate snow covering, they end up looking quite inviting at times. Those banks have to be off-limits because of the soft sidewalls on the winter tires we have to run there. It’s surely an event of moderation. I think it’s best to sort of wait and see what happens around you while you drive safe and reliable speeds. As with all rallies, confidence is a huge factor. On the ice and snow, if you have no confidence because of poor tire choice or another setup mistake, you’ll be slow, slow, slow.” About advancing to Open class competition in 2008: “I’m excited to be moving up to Open class. It’s like I’m finally getting in the right tool for the job. I like to joke and say that the PGT car was like using a hairbrush to brush your teeth and the Open car is like getting your very own Oral-B. But really, I’ve had some great success in the PGT car and have been able to run top 10 or better consistently in it. Three full seasons in PGT have given me time to learn some important lessons about lower-power, all-wheel drive cars, and I think that training is going to pay off. I expect to take a few events to get up to speed in the new car, but then I hope I’m right in the mix of the top five consistently. With Dave (Anton) from RalliSpec behind me building and maintaining the car and Hankook’s commitment to tire development, we have a strong base to do well this season.”ANTOINE L’ESTAGE (2007 North American Rally champion; 2006 and 2007 Canadian Rally Series champion) (No. 17 Royal Group Yokohama Hyundai Tiburon): “I have never competed at Sno-Drift prior to this year, but I am a snow specialist and am one of the drivers with the most experience with reconnaissance, so our goal is to win the Sno-Drift rally. We will once again be competing in a 2007 Hyundai Tiburon prepared by rally legend John Buffum. Royal Group and Yokohama are continuing as our sponsors this year, and I have multiple national and North American champion and previous event-winner Nathalie Richard as my co-driver, as well as a top-notch service crew. All the pieces of the puzzle are there. I love rallying on snow and ice, so we look forward to being on the top of the podium come Saturday night.” About his 2008 plans: “I will be competing in several key Rally America events in 2008, and I will strive to win each event that I enter. In doing so, and in conjunction with running the entire Canadian Rally Championship, one of my major goals for the season will be to defend my 2007 North American Championship title. Last year, I earned my way into the X Games by winning the wild-card spot at the New England Forest Rally. In 2008, I plan to qualify for the X Games once again with my four-wheel-drive Hyundai Tiburon. It’s a winning car, and we have a winning team.”DAVE MIRRA (BMX veteran; will make U.S. rally debut at Sno-Drift) (No. 40 Monster Energy Subaru Impreza): “I’m really looking forward to Sno-Drift now that I have a little experience in the snow. Recently, I participated in the Rally of the Tall Pines (in Canada), and I really got the feel of what to do in such unpredictable situations. Snow is so sensitive, and I have to keep reminding myself to keep it at 75 percent.” About his goals for his first season of Rally America competition: “I have no expectations for my rookie season. The experience the veterans carry is no luck of the draw. They have done their homework, and it shows. I am just so lucky for the opportunity to rally, so the last thing I’m trying to do is go out and think I can compete with the best my first year.” Will you continue to compete in BMX? “Yes, I will compete in the entire 2008 season. It starts up in the early summer. I won’t be able to do all the Rally America rounds, as there are some schedule conflicts.”TRAVIS PASTRANA (2006 and 2007 Rally America Series champion; 2007 Sno-Drift winner) (No. 199 Subaru Rally Team USA Subaru Impreza WRX STI): “Sno-Drift will set the tone for how we approach the first half of the season. Winning is always the goal, but for the championship, it’s important to get some solid results in the bank early on. When the championship is on the line later in the year, we want to be able to push. A lot happens at Sno-Drift, and it’s easy to be caught off-guard by a patch of ice. I will not be worried if I am off the pace on Day 1, because the rally will be won or lost on the long stages on the final day.” About the level of competition in the Rally America Series: “As far as sheer speed, Ken Block has proven to be the fastest driver. If he can stay on the road, I think he will be the biggest threat. Andrew Pinker has proven to be very consistent and a huge threat, especially in the mountains of the northwest. Rally America is gaining popularity, and new sponsorships are allowing the talented drivers in all classes to move up and drive competitive cars with a legitimate shot to win the championship. Every driver believes they can win, and I am no exception. This is going to be a tough year, but with the help of Subaru Rally Team USA and the completely new 2008 STI that we’ll debut soon, I believe (co-driver) Christian (Edstrom) and I are the team everyone will have to gun for.”ANDREW PINKER (Second overall, 2007 Rally America National Championship Series) (No. 2 Rockstar Energy Drink Rally Team Subaru Impreza WRX STI): “I’ve done Sno-Drift for two years now, but it’s this year that I’m particularly excited about. It was the first rally that I ever did in the U.S., and we led it after the first day. We had built up a good lead on the second day, but unfortunately got stuck in a snow bank and lost what should have been a good win. Last year, we were on track for the win with a victory on a long stage, but that stage got cancelled, which cost us the overall victory again. This year, if I have a clean run and the event has a clean run, I’m hoping to challenge for the win. However, Sno-Drift is such a lottery that any of the top six or eight cars entered could be leading after the first morning. Travis (Pastrana) has led the event, I’ve led the event, Antoine (L’Estage) has led so many snow events in Canada, (Andrew Comrie-Picard) has led and won the event, Otis (Dimiters) has led the event – the list goes on.” About the growing rivalries between teams in the Rally America Series: “The competition between our team and every other team is very high. Despite varying budgets, no team has dominated like many expected. From the first event I did here, we were competing head-to-head against the top drivers. We all get along, and we talk. It’s all good fun. But when it comes down to competition, everyone on the Rockstar Energy Drink team – like all the other competitors that are out there – is there to win. The level of competition – and emotion – always runs quite high.”KYLE SARASIN (2007 Rally America Series Rookie of the Year; will advance to Open class competition in 2008) (No. 55 CPD Racing Subaru Impreza WRX STI): “I can’t wait to start the 2008 Rally America season in the snow and ice of Michigan. I had tested the (Open class) car last year on gravel, so I’m fully aware of its potential. The CPD Racing guys did a great job with the car in testing, and I was pleasantly surprised with how much grip we could find. However, I am fully aware of Sno-Drift’s reputation and that one lapse in concentration could spell disaster. A lot of drivers with more experience than me have found themselves at the mercy of the notorious snowbanks.” About moving up to Open class competition: “This is a big step forward for me. To compete in the same class as great series regulars like Travis (Pastrana), Ken (Block) and ACP (Andrew Comrie-Picard) will make for an exciting year. I’m happy that I was able to impress the CPD Racing team, and I’m thankful for the opportunity.”



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