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Summer X Games 15 Rally Super Special

Upsetting the crowd favorite, Travis Pastrana, and sweeping the podium at the Summer X Games 15 Rally Super Special, Kenny Bräck got behind the wheel of his No. 14 Olsberg prepped Ford Fiesta and took home the coveted gold medal. Last year’s gold medalist, Travis Pastrana, earned the silver medal in his No. 199 Subaru Impreza WRX STI, prepped by Vermont Sportscar, while Tanner Foust rounded out the top three by earning the bronze and the second podium position for the Ford Fiesta team.

Kenny Bräck, a former IndyCar driver, experienced a devastating and near-fatal crash in 2003 when his IndyCar hit the wall at an estimated speed of 220mph during the IRL season finale at Texas Motor Speedway.  After years of recovery and 8 surgeries later, Bräck has only been behind the wheel of a race vehicle for competition two times previous to his X Games debut.  His last minute decision to compete in the X Games 15 Rally Super Special with teammates, two-time X games medalist, Tanner Foust, and former motocross rider turned off-road racer, Brian Deegan, was a surprise to most and created a devastating upset for defending champion, Travis Pastrana.

Just two days after crashing hard while attempting the anticipated “toilet paper roll” during the Moto X Best Trick, Travis Pastrana narrowly lost the rally competition when he collided with a wall while going head to head with Bräck during the final round of racing.

Ken Block, Pastrana’s teammate on the Subaru Rally Team (SRT) USA, suffered numerous challenges throughout the day but that did not stop him from making his way through the ranks to compete against Brian Deegan during the quarter-finals.  Rolling his car during a morning practice session, Block – with the help of Vermont Sportscar and SRT USA were able to get the car patched up and back on track for the final event of the Summer X Games 15 rally challenge.  The effects of the earlier crash during practice once again reared their ugly head when Block’s driver door flew open during his race against Deegan.  Adding insult to injury, Block had a comfortable lead when he clipped the rear of his Subaru Impreza STI causing damage to the rear differential.  Unable to make the required over-under jump due to the damage, Block was disqualified and Deegan advanced to the next round where he was matched up against Pastrana.

Ken Block, who just returned from the Germany Power Days 300 event held by Armin Schwarz and SCORE International, commented, “In rally racing you need to minimize mistakes.  I made a simple mistake when I clipped the rear and broke the rear differential.  The fact is that I still beat Deegan, even with a broken car.”

In what would seem like an act of karma, Brian Deegan was also unable to complete the over-under jump when he lost a turbo hose during his subsequent semi-final match-up against Pastrana.  Receiving the disqualification for the same infraction as Block during the previous competition, Deegan had to settle for an honorable fourth place finish during his rookie showing at the rally event.

Also debuting for the first time at the Summer X Games 15 Rally Finale competition was the Ford Fiesta team with their three similarly equipped Olsberg Motorsports prepped production-based rally cars.  A popular and economical vehicle in the European market, Ford is hoping their efforts with Pikes Peak and X Games creates a consumer buzz and enthusiasm for the Fiesta, which is set to make its U.S. debut in early 2010.  Taking home the gold, the bronze and earning an honorable fourth place finish, Ford is certain to be a formidable competitor in future rally competitions.  Beating the Subaru badge on their home field, it would appear that the Fiesta is already off to a great start as this weekend’s performance is sure to add credibility to the product line and shutdown the naysayer’s of Ford’s reliability.

Spotted this weekend at the X Games rally was short-course off-road badass, Todd LeDuc, and relative newcomer, Robby Woods.  When asked what either one was doing both replied that they were checking out the scene to see the potential and indicated there was some interest in getting involved in rally.  With drivers such as Brian Deegan making the cross-over into rally and rally drivers such as Armin Schwarz making the cross-over into desert racing it would seem as though the dirt racing scene is getting more diverse.  The Germany Power Days 300 event was even more proof of this fact.

So, will next year’s Summer X Games 16 rally event feature a LeDuc, Robby Woods and maybe a BJ Baldwin behind the wheel?  Guess we will have to wait and find out…..