Richard and Ockwell win Pines, crowned Champions

Posted on 21. Nov, 2009 by in Tall Pines 2009

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After a day long battle, Pat Richard and Alan Ockwell of Subaru Rally Team Canada fought back following transmission problems to win the 2009 Rally of the Tall Pines and repeat as Canadian Rally Champions.

Before the final service, Richard had problems that nearly cost him the rally.

“The gearbox stuck in fifth, and Alan was running back to put out the triangle,” said Richard. “Then it came unstuck and we could continue, but without fifth or sixth.”

The crew swapped in a standard synchro gearbox, and the team left for the last four stages of the rally more than a minute behind Antoine L'Estage and Nathalie Richard.

“It's a fantastic way to finish the season,” said Pat Richard. “We were pushing hard and might have caught Antoine, but we'll never know.”

For L'Estage and Nathalie Richard, the rally would be heartbreaking. The pair entered the final four stages in the lead when partway through the second of the four stages, L'Estage encountered a problem with the clutch.

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“It was rock hard, there was no way to work it,” said L'Estage. “It wasn't a big deal on the stage because we have a dogbox, but the transits and controls were almost impossible.”

The transits would prove so impossible that L'Estage and Richard were stranded on the start of the final stage, unable to get the starter motor to pull the car into motion. The team lost significant amounts of time, and finished the rally in fifth place after fighting to make up time on the final Egan Creek stage.

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The finish also meant that L'Estage would be unable to retain his North American Rally Cup title, though Nathalie had locked up that title at the Pacific Forest Rally.

“We get nothing,” said L'Estage.

Andrew Comrie-Picard and Jeremy Wimpey pushed hard all day in their NOS Mitsubishi EVO X, and were rewarded with a second place finish, enough to earn Comrie-Picard the North American Rally Cup driver's title.

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“You know, we're pushing really hard,” said Comrie-Picard. “The handling is great, but we just don't have the power, and the car is a bit heavy. It's been an absolutely great day!”

Frank and Dan Sprongl were brought on as hired guns for Subaru Rally Team Canada to help secure the Canadian Rally Manufacturer's Championship for the marque, and finished third.

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“We got a little bit quicker over the last few stages,” said Frank. “Dan got up to speed really quickly, and it was great because this is the first time we've been in a car together since 2006.”

The top two wheel drive car was the VW TDI Golf of Michael Hordijk and Jessie Amend, up from the U.S. The pair have rallied in the states before, but made Tall Pines their first Canadian rally together.

“I really like the roads, and co-drove here once a few years ago,” said Hordijk. “We figured it was time to give it a try.”

Martin Walter and Ferdinand Trauttmansdorf were the top Canadian 2wd entry in their Nissan 240 SX.

We really had a tough time with some of the rough stuff,” said Walter. “We had to reattach the guard over our fuel tank, after it started to work loose.”

Jan and Jody Zedril pushed their Mitsubishi Lancer hard in the two wheel drive class, almost past the brink.

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“It's been a tough rally,” said Jan. “We've just started to run out of luck with the car. The suspension is shot and we had some electrical problem that killed all power out on stage.”

The pair had been driving hard through the morning, but lost significant time to their problems.

Peter Kocandrle and Jimmy Brandt had put on a show here in 2008, were slower this year, largely owing to the conditions.

“This car is all about momentum,” said Brandt, pointing to the Suzuki Swift. “These conditions are just so tough, and the car just bogs down in the soft stuff, there's nothing we can do.”

Chris Martin and Phil Narini were hoping to seal up an Ontario Performance Rally Championship. Nagging boost issues all day, and a tough time fighting the muddy ruts on stage made it hard going for the team.

“We really got kicked around by this event,” said Narini. “We just kept going though, and we've locked up the title.”

Nick and Kelly Mathew had come to Pines hoping to secure their Ontario Championship, but problems all day eventually caused the team to park the car and retire.

“The car just kept overheating and then cooling down,” said Nick. “We got through Middle Hastings, but then the car just didn't seem to want to make it. We managed to start South Hastings, but it started to overheat again so we found a driveway and parked it.”

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One Response to “Richard and Ockwell win Pines, crowned Champions”

  1. Ellen Picard

    22. Nov, 2009

    Thanks again for great photos, Andrew!

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