Richard wins, L’Estage fails to finish at Rocky

Posted on 31. May, 2009 by in Rocky Mountain Rally 2009

Pat Richard has won the hot and dusty 2009 Rocky Mountain Rally. The event was a clean run for the Subaru Rally Team Canada, and marks the second win in a row at Rocky, as well as the tenth anniversary since the start of Pat's rally career.

The second day of action played out in the Porcupine Hills, Southwest of Calgary. Hot, dry and windy conditions made for beautiful scenery and fast roads.

The rally truly belonged to the brother sister team of Nick and Kelly Mathew. The pair started 11th on the road, and finished third overall, a career best.

“I'm astonished,” said Nick. “We just tried to stay clean and everything worked for us.”

The pair ran their first rally at the Rallye Perce Neige in 2008. A little over a year later, and the two have won their second regional event and earned their first national podium. The team has also taken the award for top novice.

Second place went to Andrew Comrie-Picard. Prior to the event, Comrie-Picard and co-driver Robbie Durant were realistic about their chances. The Mitsubishi Evolution X had very little development prior to the rally.

“Basically everything that was undeveloped, we developed today,” laughed Comrie-Picard, who went on to detail some of the part failures the team had to fight through."We had brake problems, driveshaft problems, diff problems."

On the first stage of the day, Bruno Carre crashed out of the rally. Though the car sustained heavy damage, the crew are fine and spent the rest of the day as spectators.

“We're not used to the Jemba notes system, and so we made a mistake,” said Carre. "We found the notes too busy, and tried to simplify them. Obviously, we didn't do that right."

Antoine L'Estage was hoping to make up time after a slow start on Friday, but came into the midday service unsure if he would be able to continue.

“We've broken something, I don't know what yet,” said L'Estage while waiting to check into service.

Minutes later, the crew found the rear diff had suffered heavy damage, and no spare was available. Though the two were able to get out of service, the rear diff failed before finishing the next stage, ending their rally.

The Zedrils crashed off the road in their newly upgraded Mitsubishi Lancer, but they did collect a nice Christmas tree for their efforts (see photo!). The ever smiling Jan Zedril was grinning when he and the damaged car returned to service.

“I've never done a somersault before!” said Zedril.

With both teams out, the VW of Eric Grochowski and Leanne Junnila moved into first place in the two wheel drive championship, but it would hardly be an easy rally. The two were fighting off Carl Barrell and Aaron Neumann, also in a VW Golf. On the final stage, Grochowski suffered a major failure. The right rear spindle failed, and the wheel, along with much of the brake system left the car.

The two crawled through the rest of the stage with just enough margin to claim top two wheel drive. Only nine seconds separated them from Barrell.

Neil and Lorna Wright rounded out the two wheel drive podium in third place with their Mazda RX-7.

On stage 9, the rally stopped after a grass fire started beside the road. The first few teams didn't see the fire, but Gord Olsen and Todd Patola were unable to see anything but smoke.

“Todd and I became firefighters today!” said Olsen. “We stopped cars and got out our fire extinguishers – we must have used six or eight – to control the fire.”

Water trucks arranged by event organizers sprung into action, and the fire was contained, but a bulk of the rally traffic had been stopped, creating a force majeure. Results from the stage were scrubbed and organizers met to discuss what of the remaining four stages could be run.

Once the fire crews cleared the road, the rally organizers sent the cars out to do just two of the four remaining stages.

Simon Losier was running strong in what was only his second Rocky Mountain Rally.

“We wanted to finish in the top seven so I could get my seed two,” said Losier. “If I can do that it means better start positions in future events.”

Losier accomplished his goal, finishing fourth overall, just a few seconds ahead of Colin Armstrong.

Chad LePoudre and Christa Monasch have had a tough season, but pulled through a strong performance to finish fourth place in two wheel drive, and edged into the top 20 overall.

Pat Richard and Antoine L'Estage are now tied in the championship points standings. The next round of the Canadian Rally Championship is Rallye Baie-des-Chaleurs, in New Richmond, Que.

Atop the regional podium was the Mathews, followed by Colin Armstrong in second and Gord Olsen in third. 


One Response to “Richard wins, L’Estage fails to finish at Rocky”

  1. Kris Schofield

    31. May, 2009

    Thanks For the coverage. Was great to read while in Finland..

Leave a Reply