Comfortable Lead for L’Estage at Baie

Posted on 29. Jun, 2012 by in Canadian Rally Champs, CRC 2012, Event Coverage, Rallye Baie Des Chaleurs 2012

Photo: Dean Campbell

Just as competitors at the 35th Rallye Baie des Chaleurs made their way to the start of the first stage, the sunny conditions enjoyed all day were replaced by dark clouds, rain and lightening. Stages that had dried out since yesterday's thunderstorms quickly became wet, with every dip in the road becoming a watersplash. The water and increased humidity would wreck havoc on many of the teams. Antoine L'Estage and Nathalie Richard lead the Rallye Baie Des Chaleurs by a margin of one minute, 27.6 seconds over Pat Richard and Alan Ockwell. L'Estage and Richard won all six stages on the first day of the rally, running trouble free. “It has been a good day, we pushed really hard, the car ran really well, no mistakes, and good tire choice,” said L'Estage. “We'll manage the lead tomorrow, they can win all the stages they want.” Richard and Ockwell lost significant time after windshield fogging issues forced the pair to slow to a crawl. The pair are in a secure second place, and will try to make headway tomorrow.

Photo: Mike Proulx

“We lost a monster load of time, but it's Baie, so tomorrow we'll just giv'er,” said Richard. “We went through Camp Brule and we didn't know where the road was. I was happy with our road position, but a little disappointed it started raining just before the rally started. Being first on the road would have been an advantage to us.” Many other teams reported fogging issues and reliability problems attributed to the wet conditions. Leo Urlichich and Carl Williamson lost approximately six minutes after breaking the shift lever in the car. Urlichich and Williamson were eventually able to limp through the final stage and finish the day, sitting fourth overall, more than six minutes back from the leader. “Despite losing time on some tight corners, we were faster than Pat Richard by five seconds, and Antoine was ahead by half a second per km, which for me was quite good,” said Urlichich. “Then on the third stage, very early in the stage, we broke the gear lever and lost six minutes. We got a screwdriver and used it to get it from sixth gear to first, and then kept it in fourth for the stage. Too bad, but the car is in one piece, so we'll be ok tomorrow.” Ugo Desgreniers and Erik Kirby inherited third place, while Criag Henderson and Lyne Murphy, struggling to find their pace, are fifth. Americans Ed McNelly and Ole Holter hold a very comfortable lead in two wheel drive, having avoided trouble that struck their top competitors.

Photo: Mike Proulx

Sylvain and Simon Vincent lost time after damaging the steering on their Toyota Corolla and suffering a flat tire. Eric Grochowski and Leanne Junnila had misfire problems after a watersplash. The problems persisted through every stage. “The very first stage of the rally, we hit a water splash, and right from then, the engine started misfiring and wouldn't rev over 1200rpm,” said Grochowski. “We ended up doing a couple of km with the engine misfiring. But all evening, it's been intermittent.”

Photo: Mike Proulx

David Berube retired from the rally, when water caused electrical problems, shutting down the engine. The Rallye Baie Des Chaleurs continues Saturday. Stages include a new morning spectator stage on tarmac, and will conclude with the infamous Saut de 5 jump. A clearing forecast in the morning may see improving conditions, but with rain called for the afternoon, weather could continue to be a factor.    

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One Response to “Comfortable Lead for L’Estage at Baie”

  1. Gordon Sleigh

    30. Jun, 2012

    Any details on Quigley/Cosner’s retirement?

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