Tall Pines: Series round six preview

Championship showdown set for the Rally of the Tall Pines BANCROFT, Ontario -- The premiere rally teams in North America will be fighting head-to-head for top honours at the Rally of the Tall Pines, the final round of the 2009 Canadian Rally ...

Championship showdown set for the Rally of the Tall Pines

BANCROFT, Ontario -- The premiere rally teams in North America will be fighting head-to-head for top honours at the Rally of the Tall Pines, the final round of the 2009 Canadian Rally Championship, presented by Subaru, supported by Yokohama.

Subaru Rally Team Canada's Pat Richard (Squamish, B.C.) and co-driver Alan Ockwell (Toronto) need to win to have a hope for repeating as Canadian Rally Champion driver and co-driver. The team is also leading the points standings for the manufacturers championship in their 2008 Subaru Impreza STI.

"The manufacturers title is our number one priority," said Richard. "We have to approach this just like any other rally, and win again."

Championship rivals Antoine L'Estage and Nathalie Richard (Ste-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que.) are in a slightly more relaxed position, with a second place finish netting the driver and co-driver titles. The pair campaign the Mitsubishi/Rockstar/Concerto EVO X.

"There's still pressure on us," said L'Estage, who also has a chance to clinch the North American Rally Cup with a solid finish at Tall Pines. "Competition will be tough, and I like this rally, but it can be very tricky."

Brothers Frank and Dan Sprongl (Georgetown, Ont.) will be reunited in a car for the first time since 2006. Multiple Canadian and North American Champions, the two are sure to mix things up at the front of the pack. The team will be first on the road, driving a factory-backed Subaru Rally Team Canada Subaru Impreza STI.

"We've got nothing to lose, so there's no pressure," said Frank Sprongl, "It's our first time back together, and Dan's jumping in with both feet." While they are not a factor in the driver's championship, they could play a major role in the manufacturers standings by providing Subaru with an additional top-seeded entry.

Andrew Comrie-Picard (Toronto) and Jeremy Wimpey (State College, PA) will hope to secure the North American Rally Cup in their NOS Energy Drink Mitsubishi EVO X.

"We'll need that delicate balance of speed, precision and reliability. Fortunately, the Evo is perfect for Pines," said Comrie-Picard in regards to the thick competition.

More than 50 teams are on the start list for this event, including more than 20 two-wheel drive cars, and ten teams entered from the U.S. Zbigniew Szewczyk and Tomasz Karzynski (Calgary) will be pushing their Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart to the limit to secure the Group 5 Championship. They'll have tough competition in the form of Martin Walter (North Gower, Ont.) and Ferdinand Trauttmansdorff (Ottawa) in their Nissan 240 SX. The teams are presently tied in the standings.

The storied Rally of the Tall Pines is an event that features some of the toughest driving challenges in North America, with conditions often referred to as "winter roads with summer ditches".

The cold weather in the region at this time of year means the roads can become snow or ice covered, but drivers will not have the benefit of snow banks to keep them on the road. A small mistake can have big consequences at this event.

The Rally of the Tall Pines is one of the most spectator-friendly in the series, including a Super Special stage minutes from downtown Bancroft. The rally is held November 20-21, 2009, and includes more than 150 kilometers of competitive stages run in the Canadian Shield setting around Bancroft, Ontario.

Rally car racing is often described simply as "real cars, real roads, real fast." The all-season motorsport sees drivers and their co-drivers take modified road cars to the limit as they achieve blistering speeds over closed-road courses that typically cover more than 150 kilometres of gravel, dirt or snow-covered roads. Fans can get up close to the cars in the service areas and catch all the action from specially designated spectator points located at the best spots on the route.

The Canadian Rally Championship is comprised of six events held nationwide in a season that extends from February to November. The series is presented by Subaru Canada, supported by Yokohama Tire Canada and features contingency programs from Subaru Canada and Mitsubishi Canada. The Canadian Association of Rallysport (CARS) is the official sanctioning body for rallying in Canada.

Full coverage of the championship will air on RDS and TSN. Check local listings.

For more information on the web: www.CARSrally.ca ; www.tallpinesrally.com

-credit: crc

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