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

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Photo by Andrew Harvey



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