THIS YEAR AT RALLY OF THE TALL PINES
Sweeping through tree-lined forest roads, only the person seated next to you knows for sure what's ahead. You push even harder to take the stage from the leader, but launching your car over a jump has snapped your axle. Back in the service area, your team has enough parts to build the car three times over, so you're back on the road just in time to capture the final stage.
This is rallying, one of the most popular forms of motorsport in the world. Professional rally drivers have been called the most skilled on the planet; they possess nerves of steel, the reflexes of a cat, and stratospheric levels of mental and physical fitness. Co-drivers are the brains behind the operation; they coax their drivers to exercise caution when need be and then push like hell when stage wins and ultimate glory are on the line.
Here in Canada, rally teams from coast-to-coast compete against each other and the clock in the Canadian Rally Championship (CRC). This six-round series, which sees teams travel from Quebec in the east to British Columbia in the west, concludes with the Rally of the Tall Pines in Bancroft, Ontario. This year, the event is set to take place on November 23rd- 24th.
This challenging rally consists of twisty dirt and gravel roads with dangerous ditches and trees on either side. There are jumps, dips and spectators positioned mere feet away. Often marked by completely unpredictable weather, the Tall Pines makes teams prepare for everything from dirt and gravel stages to roads covered in sheer ice - and sometimes, a mixture of both!
The cars range from the classic do-it yourselfers to the extremely expensive and heavily- sponsored manufacturer cars. Some teams compete to win the championships, others do it just to have fun - but they all do it because of their passion for rallying.
As the Rally of the Tall Pines is the last national event of the CRC, the pressure is often even more intense. Class titles are up for grabs, which means the leaders are feeling the heat and the followers are left playing catch up.
After three rounds of the championship, the key competitors in this year's overall title chase have emerged. First in the standings are the reigning champions, the team of Antoine L'Estage and Natalie Richard (Hyundai Tiburon 4WD), followed closely by Andrew Comrie-Picard and Marc Goldfarb (Mitsubishi Evo 9 RS). Aside from these two teams, there will be some 30 other competitors looking to grab a share of the spotlight.
This year, the Rally of the Tall Pines will also see a new Classic Car Class presented by Clearwater Design. Clearwater Design will be awarding the driver with the highest total points for this class with a canoe/kayak.
In order to be included in this class, you must have a vehicle manufactured in the model year 1987 or earlier that is eligible for Production, Group 2 or Group 5 classes. The points for this class will be awarded during the Black Bear Rally, Galway Cavendish Forest Rally and Rally of the Tall Pines.
In addition, this year teams will have the chance to drive the stage roads in advance during a full Two Pass Recce. Knowing every corner, type of road surface, and the location of every pothole, rock or other potential hazard can be a significant advantage when it comes time to run these roads at high speeds or in the dark of night.
For rally competitors and fans alike, the Rally of the Tall Pines is the "can't-miss" event of the year - and in 2007 it promises to be more exciting than ever.
The Rally of the Tall Pines has been run every year since 1971 and is organized by the Maple Leaf Rally Club. For more information, visit www.tallpinesrally.com or contact one of the following event officials.