The battle for top points in the Rally America championship is heating up the Pacific Northwest as the series moves to Oregon for the fourth round, the Oregon Trail Rally (May 15-17).

A tight race at the top of the standings sees NOS Energy driver Andrew Comrie-Picard with a three-point lead over Subaru Rally Team USA’s Travis Pastrana and Rockstar Energy’s Tanner Foust — who are tied for second-place.

Pastrana and co-driver Christian Edstrom could have the edge. The driver has scored two wins in three starts this season and scored the event win in 2008. Meanwhile, Comrie-Picard and co-driver Robbie Durant, and Foust and co-driver Chrissie Beavis, have shown they can set a top pace this season. Pastrana’s Subaru teammates Ken Block and co-driver Alex Gelsomino, are always a threat for the win.

Block and the Polish team of Andi Mancin and co-driver Maciej Wislawski are hungry for points to boost their standings after a slow start to their respective seasons. Block has one win and two DNFs to his record this year, while Mancin has been expected to gain ground as the season progresses and he becomes accustomed to the U.S. style of rally competition.

The new, hotly contested Super Production Class will also see a strong field at this event, with drivers including Piotr Wiktorczyk, Matt Johnson and Subaru Rally Team USA’s Dave Mirra expected to fight hard for class honors and maintain their top-10 standings.

Promising young Dillon Van Way is another driver to watch as continues his national campaign the for two-wheel drive title, while a number of popular competitors from the Pacific Northwest including Dave Hintz, Paul Eklund, and Mark Tabor are sure to put on a great show for their hometown crowds.

The event features over 100 miles of competition over a course that promises a mix of twisty, hard-packed forest conditions and wide-open farming roads. The Mount Hood area’s hilly terrain means plenty of elevation changes throughout the contest.

Rally activities extend over four days in mid-May, with a kick-off car show in downtown Portland on Thursday, May 14. Key series players and their cars will make an appearance Portland’s Pioneer Courthouse Square for a midday display where fans can meet their favorite drivers and check out their race machines.

Competition begins on Friday, May 15, with opening stages at the Portland International Raceway. There, teams will take on a mixed tarmac and dirt course before heading out to a challenging gravel course near Hood River, Oregon, for the second and third days of the rally (May 16-17).

Avid photographers will again have the opportunity to participate in Rally America’s popular photo contest where fans can submit their best shots for a chance to win great prizes. The rally area offers plenty of views of Oregon’s beautiful Mount Hood, giving photographers the chance to capture some truly spectacular shots of this exciting event.

Rally car racing is considered the extreme sport of automobile racing and is often described simply as “real cars, real roads, real fast.” This all-season motorsport sees drivers and their co-drivers take modified road cars to the limit as they achieve blistering speeds over courses that cover more than 100 miles of gravel, dirt or snow-covered roads.

The 2009 Rally America National Championship series consists of nine exciting events throughout the country in many different weather and road conditions.

Top teams in the series are also invited to compete in the Summer X Games, the leading action sports event broadcast live on ABC and ESPN. Eight top teams have already been invited to this August’s contest. Among the marques typically represented in Rally America events are Subaru, Mitsubishi, Dodge, Ford and Volkswagen.

Event Schedule:

Thursday, May 14

11:00 – 13:00 Rally Fan Appreciation Display Pioneer Courthouse Sq, Portland

Friday, May 15

18:00 – 21:45 Spectator Spectacular Portland International Raceway

Saturday, May 16

10:00 – 12:00 Parc Expose Hood River Fairgrounds, Odell
11:00 First Car starts Day Two Hood River Fairgrounds, Odell
11:00 – 19:00 Competition Stages (Free) Hood River Area
18:40 First Car Finishes Day Two Hood River Fairgrounds, Odell

Sunday, May 17

09:00 First Car starts Day Three Hood River Fairgrounds, Odell
09:00 – 14:30 Competition Stages (Free) Hood River Area
14:45 First Car Finishes Event Hood River Fairgrounds, Odell

Rally Headquarters: Best Western Hood River Inn, Hood River. 541-386-2200

Additional information on the 2009 event, including the spectator guide, is available at the event website, http://www.oregontrailrally.com .



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