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Tree aides Travis Pastrana in Ojibwe Forests Rally Win

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Bemidji, 56619

Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

Travis Pastrana, thanks to a tree, captured his third straight Ojibwe Forests Rally championship Saturday night, edging out other cars in the Team Subaru Rally USA.

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Pastrana of Davidsonville, Md., riding with Derek Ringer in a 2008 Subaru Impreza WRX STi, finished the two-day open class rally in 2:13:19.6, nearly 5:13 ahead of second-place Kyle Sarasin of Marquette, Mich., in a 1999 Subaru Impreza, with Mikael Johansson, and 5:38 ahead of Andrew Pinker of Perth, Australia, in a 2006 Subaru Impreza WRZ STi, with Robbie Durant.

But Pastrana, two-time Rally America National Championship winner, had his biggest battle with Ken Block of Sana Fe, Claif., and Alessandro Gelsomino. Block finished first after Friday's stages, 20.8 seconds ahead of Pastrana.

Block led again for most of Saturday, until his 2008 Subaru Impreza WRX STi hit a tree on the last stage, forcing him out of the rally, and allowing Pastrana to move in for the win.

The tree stood for eight more cars, then fell over causing rally officials to reroute the rally. Neither Block nor Gelsomino were injured.

The rally involves timed races through area forests with seven stages each day and staging stops for working repairs at Akeley. The route is through the Paul Bunyan, Smokey Hills and Two Inlets state forests.

The rally started and ended both days in Bemidji.

The two-day Ojibwe Forests Rally is part of the Rally America series, with the 2008 Rally America National Championship series consisting of nine events throughout the country in many different weather and road conditions.

Throughout the year, teams take on everything from the forest logging roads in Minnesota, to the high-altitude Yampa River Valley in northwest Colorado and the Pacific Northwest forest and coast paths.

The series now moves west to Steamboat Springs for the next round, Rally Colorado, with three remaining events on the circuit.

Y bswenson@bemidjipioneer.com

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