Tall Pines Rally ends in heartbreaking drama
Bancroft, Ontario (November 24, 2009) -- The sixth and final round of the Canadian Rally Championship was held this weekend out of Bancroft, Ontario. Antoine L'Estage and co-driver Nathalie Richard from St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, in their 2009 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, were minutes away from becoming national champions when they encountered mechanical problems (clutch) in the last speed section. They completed the event in fifth place, which was good enough for second place in the final standings.
Among the other Mitsubishi teams, Andrew Comrie-Picard and Jeremy Wimpey in a second Lancer Evolution took second place overall. The podium finish earned ACP the driver title in the North American championship. Nathalie Richard had already clinched the codriver title.
Simon Losier and Francois Morin guided their Synchro Racing Evolution VIII RS to a sixth place, which gives them third place overall in the season standings. In the Group 2 category, Jan and Jody Zedril from Winnipeg took second place in their stock Lancer ES and driver Jan became the Canadian 2WD Champion. Mitsubishi earns the manufacturer title.
Other Mitsubishi driving teams able to complete the grueling event include Michelle Laframboise and codriver Erik Lee in their Evolution IV, and rookie pairing Jeffrey and Emily Dowell in their Production Sport Lancers. Maxime Losier and Philippe Poirier in the second Synchro Racing Evo VIII RS were on their way to a surprising Top 5 finish when they had to drop out at the midpoint of the race.
The results at Tall Pines determined the year-end standings for the 2009 Mitsubishi Cup. Antoine L'Estage (Nathalie Richard) raced to his first Mitsubishi Cup victory, beating out defending Cup champion Simon Losier (Francois Morin). Andrew Comrie-Picard rounds out the podium finishers.
"A national champion would have been a first for Mitsubishi in Canada," said Koji Soga, President and CEO of Mitsubishi Motor Sales of Canada Inc., when asked about the unfortunate clutch issues of L'Estage and Richard in the final speed section at Tall Pines.
"But we're extremely happy with the performances of our teams. The titles we've won are the results of ongoing efforts for a whole season. We hope the Mitsubishi rally program has contributed to their success and that they will be back next year."
Next rendezvous: Rallye Perce-Neige 2010
The Canadian Rally Championship is now history with the Rally of the Tall Pines, final round of the season. The teams will take a few months off only to reconvene in Maniwaki, Quebec, north of Ottawa, for the first round of the 2010 season, Rally Perce-Neige, in February.