John Buffum wins the Tall Pines Rally
Peter Thomson becomes the 2005 Canadian Rally Champion
Bancroft (Ontario), November 27, 2005 -- The 2005 Canadian Rally Championship hosted its final and decisive round this weekend in Bancroft, Ontario with the presentation of the Tall Pines Rally. The highly exciting event saw Toronto, Ontario's Peter Thompson -- who traded its Subaru for a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 8 for this final round -- finish in third place to become the new national rally champion.
A stunning surprise came however from legendary rally driver John Buffum, a multi North American rally champion, who skilfully avoided all the pitfalls on the snow covered country roads to clinch the victory, scoring a record 43rd triumph in the Canadian Championship. This victory also gives Buffum's co-driver Nathalie Richard the North American title. The St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec's Richard had already claimed the Canadian co-driver title last year.
One of the rally favourites, Quebec's Antoine L'Estage was running in second place when the right front wheel hub broke during the 6th special stage, forcing L'Estage to retire and ending all his hopes of beating Thomson in the title chase.
American Matthew Iorio finished second, less than 20 seconds from Buffum. It was the third time in four events that Iorio was finishing in second position. Frank Sprongl, the driver of a Suzuki Swift + was third overall when he arrived too early at the last checkpoint of the event and was given a four-minute time penalty. The incident promoted Thomson to third place, scoring the two championship points he needed to claim the 2005 title. The Toronto driver enjoyed an impressive and successful season, taking two wins and finishing all the events in the top 4.
Quebecers Jean-Paul Perusse and Frederic Labrie completed the top six, finishing ahead of Martin Donnelly of Ontario, Americans Jake Himes and John Cassidy, and the top rookie, Robert MacKenzie of Ontario. Twenty-three of the 40 teams that took the start of the Tall Pines bravely made it to the finish.
Peter Thompson is first on the final points' table with a total of 62, followed by Antoine L'Estage (60), Matthew Iorio (55), John Cassidy (36), Frank Sprongl (35) and Joel Levac (23). The following three drivers - Buffum, Nichols and Perusse -- are all tied at 20 points. The overall co-driver title goes to Rod Hendricksen and Subaru claims the constructors' championship. The scoring in the various categories and all other information about rally competitions in Canada can be found on the web site of the Canadian Association of Rally Sport at www.carsrally.ca
The Canadian Rally Championship concluded its 49th season of competition with the Tall Pines. The 2006 season will kick off February 4, 2006 in Maniwaki, Quebec with the presentation of the Perce-Neige.
For complete results, please check www.rallyscoring.com