L’Estage Wins Third Year in a Row!

Posted on 08. Sep, 2007 by in Rallye Defi 2007

Crw_3288 As teams pulled into the first service of the day today, the long hours put in by crews overnight had apparently paid off. Many cars were sporting tarmac setups for the all tarmac stages run first, and those who had suffered problems yesterday were now in much better shape.

"My crew were up to three in the morning working on the car," explained Bruno Carre. "It's not perfect, but it's DAMN good!"

Things were not so happy over at the Musketeer Racing tent. "We replaced the turbo, but now we are only getting ten pounds of boost, so we are looking for a leak," shrugged Andrew Comrie-Picard. With continued problems, it would be very unlikely that ACP would be able to catch a very fast Antoine L'Estage. Antoine had been fast enough to win every stage in the event so far, and no one looked capable of stopping that trend.

Peter Thomson was unable to get all the sleep he would have liked, but "I got my waffle this morning, so that's good," explained the Toronto driver. This year the organizers put services on either side of the tarmac stages, enabling teams to commit to a full tarmac setup, satisfying many drivers, Peter included.

Rejean Losier pulled into service with a wing missing and some heavy damage to the rear passenger corner of the car. "We tried a new way to finish a stage, we went past the flag backwards! It was a weeeeeee and then a BANG." The damage was thankfully really mostly cosmetic, and the team soldiered on. Crw_3276

Jon Nichols was still doing well, and clearly taking to the EVO, despite feeling desensitized. On Friday night, he had commented that the car was too quiet, and that he didn't know what it was doing all the time. Today, his comments were a little more brief. "I'm scared shitless, this stuff (tarmac) is crazy!" breathed Nichols.

John Vanos had great difficulty with his tarmac tires, finding that they were not at all progressive when losing grip. A change to worn gravels also provided a change of spirit and the Vanos and Ockwell combo were soon seen in much better spirits. Crw_3312

For Leo Url, the rally had been a trying experience right from the start. Despite some very fast driving, the car would occasionally drop into limp mode, preventing engine speeds over 3000 rpm. Url discovered that by driving more smoothly, not launching the car and being a little more gentle with the shifter, the engine management would stay out of limp mode. Sadly, just as he learned this, the Russian ended his rally. In an attempt to avoid hitting a car that had crashed at the side of the road, Leo's car rolled, putting him out of the rally.

In checking in with Western co-driver Leanne Junnila, it was discovered the pair were having a great time, and doing their best to adapt to tarmac. They have apparently been bitten by the Eastern rally bug, so it is quite possible we will see this pairing out at more events this side of the prairies. Crw_3402

In the early afternoon, teams drove out to the longest stages of the event, where the biggest gains and losses would be made. The new stages were fast and narrow, demanding the utmost of the drivers' skill.

When returning for the last service to prepare for the final three stages, attrition was starting bite. Ian Crerar was out, after suffering two flat tires, and running out of spares. "It's the logical result for our Campaign of Shame!" crowed Crerar. "One more DNF in the logbook won't hurt." Mathieu L'Estage was also out, with gearbox problems. "We lost third, and then did three more stages and then lost all but first and second. We were doing well though, with top three times, I think we were even in third for a while." The Last Ditch pairing of John Cassidy and Dave Getchell were also out, with a hole in their cross pipe, and climbing oil temps. "A DNF is a lot more palpable than a blown engine, so we pulled out," explained Getchell. Mark Williams and James Drake, competing in the regional portion of the event crashed out on one of the morning stages, the car sustaining heavy damage, but the two occupants escaping unscathed. Andrew Comrie-Picard continued to suffer more drama, losing a shift linkage, and still down on boost. "We can probably hold second place," mumbled the usually engaging driver. Thomson also lost a shift linkage, getting stuck in third gear. Co-Driver Rod Hendricksen was able to effect some roadside repairs with some wire and zip ties that managed to hold through the long stage, getting the pair back to service for a proper remedy. Crw_3505

Antoine L'Estage appeared to be one of the few without problems, only losing an exhaust hangar, and losing his first stage of the event just before service. "Now we can take it easy, and let other people win some stages. We will just try to cruise to the finish."

That would not be the plan for John Vanos and Alan Ockwell. Due to much improved spirits and some new found speed, the pair were only thirty seconds shy of Peter Thomson, with eyes for the podium. "I don't think we can catch him on raw speed, but if (Thomson) has a problem..." trailed off Ockwell. "We've got a target on our back though," added Vanos, referring to Henderson, who had until recently held fourth place before being overhauled on one stage by the Planet Motorsport car. Vanos would be unable to hold the lead, dropping back to fifth place by the finish. Crw_3343

The podium stayed steady - Antoine L'Estage, Andrew Comrie-Picard and Peter Thomson. This was the third year that L'Estage has won Defi, and will add to his championship points, stretching his lead a little further over Andrew Comrie-Picard. "We're very happy to win," smiled Antoine, drinking the remains of his champagne. For Andrew Comrie-Picard, the tense weekend was all but very. ACP, along with Jen Horsey and the rest of the film crew are on their way to Montreal to catch a flight to Newfoundland to cover Targa, starting tomorrow. Peter Thomson drove a fairly relaxed rally, just getting back into the swing of things, and he's certainly seems to have done just that. "I'm not as fast as I want to be, but I'm learning. The car has more in it," stated Peter. Crw_3494

The next round of the Canadian Rally Championship is the Pacific Forest Rally, in Merrit BC. Until then, keep your eyes on Flatovercrest.com for news and photos from Targa Newfoundland, and some exciting new content. Flatovercrest.com wants to thank Tim Chreptak for his invaluable assistance. Last night, the Flatovercrest.com crew suffered terminal laptop failure. Were it not for the loan of Tim's laptop, this coverage would not have been possible. Crw_3290 Crw_3308

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