Pat Richard dominates at treacherous Rally of the Tall Pines
Bancroft, ON -- Patrick Richard and co-driver, Alan Ockwell, overcame treacherous road conditions and high attrition to dominate the Rally of the Tall Pines, held in Bancroft, Ontario. The final round of the 2008 Canadian Rally Championship saw the Subaru Rally Team Canada duo take their fourth win of the year, capping off a picture-perfect championship season.
"It's fantastic," smiled Richard, "It's my best finish ever at Tall Pines and a great way to lead into next year. The team worked really hard all year for the championship."
Antoine L'Estage and Nathalie Richard of St-Jean-Sur-Richelieu, Quebec, entered the event prepared to fight for the North American Rally Cup title with cross-border rivals Ken Block and co-driver, Alex Gelsomino. The battle was short lived however, as Block crashed out on the second stage of the event. An early flat tire also cost L'Estage over three minutes to the leaders, before a mechanical failure put him out of the event entirely.
"We would like to have won here to close the season, but today our luck was not good. Even when you try your hardest, sometimes it is not enough."
Craig Henderson and Lyne Murphy of St-Constant, Quebec took their best career finish with a second place overall. Craig had been sick since the mid-day mark but battled through the problems to finish the event.
"I'm so excited about our result, especially because of how sick I felt. This means we have also won the Subaru contingency program," said Henderson.
Third place went to Irishman, Seamus Burke, who drove carefully and cleanly to earn his first Canadian podium. This was the first Rally of the Tall Pines for Burke, who lives in the USA.
"Tall Pines has been a great event with fantastic competition. I'd really like to get back to more Canadian events in the future," said Burke.
Nick and Kelly Mathew had a career high finish with a fourth place overall. Nick had never driven at Tall Pines prior to 2008.
"We're delighted and amazed at how things have gone today. We had no idea we'd end up here when we first started the day."
Peter Kocandrle and co-driver Jimmy Brandt were the top finishing two wheel drive team. The pair finished in eighth overall, beating many higher powered cars in their 1991 Suzuki Swift GT.
The 2008 Rally of the Tall Pines lived up to its reputation as an event with winter roads and summer ditches. Constantly changing conditions meant variable grip all through the day.
The Mitsubishi Cup -- an award given to the top finishing Mitsubishi crew at the end of the season -- goes to Simon Losier of Ste-Therese, Quebec.
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 kilometers 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. www.tallpinesrally.com