Second win for Matthew Iorio!
Merritt, B.C., October 15, 2006.- The Pacific Forest Rally was held this weekend, in the mountains of Merritt, in British Columbia. The event lived up to everyone's expectations and offered a never-ending battle between the two top contenders in the championship, Quebecker Antoine L'Estage, from Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, and American Matthew Iorio, from Massachusetts.
After winning 11 stages out of 16, L'Estage, co-driven by Nathalie Richard, from Halifax, NS, couldn't bring his Hyundai Tiburon 4WD in first position because of a six minute penalty for checking in early at a time control. This mistake theoretically delays the crowning of the champion. By finishing second behind Matthew Iorio and Ole Holter, in a Subaru, the Québec driver needs only one point to ensure the title. All he has to do is earn one championship point by taking the start of the next and last rally of the season.
At the end of the rally, Matthew Iorio and Ole Holter were three minutes behind L'Estage/Richard by stage times, but with the six minute penalty incurred by the top team, their positions were reversed. This gave Iorio/Holter their second win of the season, the first being Rallye Baie-des-Chaleurs in July. In the championship, they now sit in second place.
The crowd's favourite, Norm LeBlanc from Pemberton, BC, and co-driver Keith Morison from Calgary AB, brought home their Subaru Impreza WRX in third place. They also won the Production 4 class. Aaron Neumann/Graham Coates (Honda Civic, Gr 2) and Zebe Szewczyk/Tomasz Karzynski (Mitsubishi Lancer, Gr 5) rounded out the top 5. Despite perfect weather and dry roads, PFR suffered a high number of retirements with only 20 teams ^× 8 of them running the National championship ^× crossing the finish line out of 31 starters.
In the Canadian Drivers' Championship, L'Estage now has 84 points, followed by Iorio with 63, Norm LeBlanc with 48 and Sylvain Erickson with 45. The last rally remaining in the 2006 calendar is the Tall Pines Rally, to be held in Bancroft, ON, on November 25.
PacificForest Rally Official Results (full results on www.pacificforestrally.com) :