Block Dominates Difficult Rallye Defi

Posted on 08. Sep, 2012 by in Canadian Rally Champs, CRC 2012, Event Coverage, Rallye Defi 2012

Photo: Mike Proulx

The day after opening a lead at the 2012 Rallye Defi, Ken Block and Alex Gelsomino cemented their performance by winning the event, their second career Canadian rally victory.

Despite windshield fogging in the humid, rainy conditions that defined Saturday’s stages, the pair were easily able to defend their position at the front of the pack, driving away from the competition.

“It wasn’t all that easy, but it was a lot of fun,” said Block, after the rally. “These roads here are a lot of fun, so I quite enjoyed myself.”

Photo: Mike Proulx

In true form, Block wowed fans with massive drifts around corners that characterize his driving. On smoother, faster stages, Block fought closely with Antoine L’Estage and Nathalie Richard, but the pace proved to be more than the Rockstar team could handle.

Photo: Mike Proulx

“It was a good rally for us,” said L’Estage. “Second place is not where I wanted to be but Ken and Alex were the fastest. They did a great job yesterday, and Ken drove really well and have great equipment.”

Photo: Mike Proulx

L’Estage made a mistake before mid-day, puncturing both left side tires on a rock, 7km from the finish of a stage. The problem cost the pair more than 90 seconds, and some damage to the car.

The most obvious damage was the drivers front fender and headlight, which were ripped off by the disintegrating front tire. However, the car also suffered problems with the transfer case that hadn’t been an issue on the shorter stages, but on the longer stages, and certainly when forced to contend with two flat tires, it became even worse.

The team was able to repair the car, and continue, but the time lost continued to add up, and L’Estage wisely slowed the pace in order to finish and secure important points in the Canadian Rally Championship.

“Thanks to the mechanics, they fixed everything today,” said L’Estage. “We’re here in second place an it’s good points for the championship. I am pleased with that. Some stages we were close and some we beat Ken, so that was good.”

Third place went to Crazy Leo and Carl Williamson. The two had fought through significant problems over the course of the rally – damaged driveline and failing engine, shifter problems and fogging issues that reduced visibility – but defended their third place, keeping the team close in the hunt for the national title.

Photo: Mike Proulx

“I’ve never been this tired at the end of a rally,” said Crazy Leo. “I’m still very happy.

“We were off the pace today for the last two loops. I don’t know how much of it is the car, but I’ve taken every corner at the maximum. Where you could cut, I cut the most, and where you couldn’t, I didn’t.”

Simon Losier and Philippe Poirier stayed in control in the challenging conditions to finish fourth overall, beating Maxime and Robert Labrie, who finished fifth.

Warren Haywood and Jennifer Daly took the top Production GT result while Ed McNelly and Ole Holter were the only two wheel drive car to finish the rally, making this their second consecutive class victory in Canada.

The team had a close call, rolling their Fiesta late on Saturday. However, the Quebec fans helped right the car and the team was able to finish with minimal damage.

Photo: Mike Proulx

“Friday morning, the stages were really really rough. We picked our way through it,” said McNelly. “We’d like to get our seed factor up at Canadian events, so we were probably running about eighth overall, but with the roll, I think we dropped down to 11th.”

Only 13 of the 29 cars to start the rally made it to the finish, with a full third of the field eliminated on the first four stages of the rally.

The Canadian Rally Championship continues at the Pacific Forest Rally, in Merritt, B.C., October 12-13.

Photo: Mike Proulx


Photo: Mike Proulx

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