Subaru Rally Team USA driver Travis Pastrana has said that the Wales Rally GB was the most difficult event he has ever done.
The multiple motocross champion, who successfully defended his Rally America National Championship title this season, eventually brought his Impreza home in eleventh in the FIA Production Car World Rally Championship category, but that was the only consolation after a catalogue of problems dented any hopes he might have had of finishing in the points.
Indeed Pastrana was in trouble pretty much from the off, with two punctures on the opening loop on Friday immediately putting him down the order - the second costing him around four minutes as he had to change the tyre.
In total he had five punctures during the event and with a suspension failure forcing him to miss the final three stages on Saturday, he eventually finished more than 14 minutes off P8, having re-started on day 3 under the SupeRally.
"This was the most difficult rally I have ever finished," he confirmed. "At times the fog was so thick that I couldn't see the hood of my Subaru - and the rain poured so hard that the wipers couldn't work fast enough! It was terrifying but fun.
"We gained some good experience with creating our own pace-notes, which we don't do much in the USA, and it was a definite improvement over the previous two PWRC rounds [I did this year]. My stage times are not where I want them to be yet though - but I have accept that more speed will come as I get more experience. We have made it to the finish of all three of my first WRC rounds this year, which says a lot for my Subaru and for my team."
James Han, motorsports marketing manager for Subaru of America, Inc, meanwhile reckoned that the events they have done with Pastrana this year in the WRC will be useful for the future.
"From the outset of our 2007 PWRC campaign, the team's intent has been to gain valuable experience at several international events and position itself for greater competitiveness for the upcoming seasons," he explained. "Travis continues to impress us by posting some surprisingly quick stage times as a rookie against very experienced drivers in Wales. I feel this performance by the entire team is a positive sign of things to come in our future PWRC campaign."
Pastrana's focus now shifts to the Race of Champions event at Wembley on December 16, where he will represent the USA with team-mate and 2007 NASCAR Nextel Cup champion Jimmie Johnson.