L’Estage Tops After First Day at Rocky

Posted on 26. May, 2012 by in Canadian Rally Champs, CRC 2012, Event Coverage, Rocky Mountain Rally 2012

Antoine L’Estage and Nathalie Richard have finished the first day of the Rocky Mountain Rally with over a minute advantage ahead of their closest rival. L’Estage and Richard had minor problems this morning, but after changing the engine management computer, the two had a flawless run.

“It has been a good day,” said L’Estage, who started the day second on the road but moved into first after a mid day reseed. “We pushed hard from the beginning and we made good time on everyone else. I’m very happy.”

Pat Richard and Alan Ockwell were fighting for position through most of the day, until problems hit on the final stage, on the Jumping Pound road.

On starting the final stage, the rear diff in Richard’s car exploded, forcing the engine to work harder to propel the car. That in turn caused the car to overheat.

“We lost 20, maybe 30 seconds. I really don’t know,” said Richard. “I’m doing the best I can with what we’ve got, but it’s frustrating to have these problems.”

“Crazy” Leo Urlichich and Carl Williamson have set a strong pace. Just 18 seconds back of Richard and Ockwell, Leo is thrilled.

“Earlier today, I got myself in some frustration again, getting off the pace in some tight, muddy stage. I had no clue where I am dropping that much time,” said Urlichich. “So I ended up going like a madman through corners, and that was the fastest way. We still have an amazing fight for tomorrow.”

Hardy Schmidtke and John Hall are looking to hang on to fourth place overall, and stay ahead of Max Riddle and Aaron Neumann.

“Today was good. We didn’t hit anything, kept it clean,” said Riddle. “We’re a little bit back on Hardy, a little bit back from where we want to be but tomorrow should be good, gain it all up tomorrow.”

“We’re trying hard.,” said Schmidtke. “Tomorrow has a lot of stage km, our goal is right now, to be on pace with Max. I’d like to beat him.”

Two wheel drive was equally full of drama.

Eric Grochowski and Leanne Junnila were flying for most of the day, but trouble hit on the final leg of the day, when a coolant line burst.

“We were killing it today, we had minutes in the lead in two wheel drive,” said Grochowski. “We finished the first Jumping pound stage. After, we noticed the temperature was really high, and not two seconds later, the hood bulged and steam came out.”

By cannibalizing the catch can in the car, they were able to continue, and limp back to service at the end of the day.

“We got it to a point where it would stay at safe operating temperature as long as we stayed below 3000rpm,” said Grochowski. “We ran the next few stages with the hazards on, stayed under 3000rpm, dropping around 40 seconds a stage on time.”

Kris Schofield and Jennifer Daly had some “excitement,” when the brakes failed on a downhill stretch of Powderface Trail.

“The last run through Powderface was entertaining. With 14km left, we lost our brakes. I think we lost probably about 2 minutes, but we made it through,” said Schofield.

Scofield and Daly enter day two just four seconds ahead of Grochowski and Junnila, with Comrie-Picard just over three minutes back, running third place in two wheel drive.

The mud on the the final stages made it especially tough going for the two wheel drive cars, but thing seemed to be working well for Andrew Comrie-Picard.

“You know, Eric and Kris are incredible drivers, and they really know their cars,” said Comrie-Picard. “Our goal is just to get some points, and to get on the podium. Of course, I want to win, but beating those two will be really hard. To share a podium with them would be an honour.”

Tomorrow, teams head to the new Hunter Valley stage, a fast road located about 80km north of the rally headquarters. The conditions on recce were drier, and the forecast is calling for sun and breeze, which should help things further dry out. Cars start the first stage at approximately 10am, and the rally is expected to end just before 7pm.

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One Response to “L’Estage Tops After First Day at Rocky”

  1. warren

    26. May, 2012

    Thanks for the coverage FOC! Wish we were there.

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