Antoine L’Estage and Nathalie Richard took an early lead at the Rally of the Tall Pines, the final round of the Canadian Rally Championship. The pair have already secured the Canadian Rally Championship, and so have nothing to lose and appeared to be pushing hard on the early stages, despite using gravel tires, a decision L’Estage said was a mistake.They haven’t had a trouble free run, experiencing overheating problems on the fourth stage, requiring the radiator to be changed at the second service.
After the opening four stages, Pat Richard and Alan Ockwell of Subaru Rally Team Canada were in second, nearly 40 seconds back. The two have had a difficult season, and while driving well today, are sure to want to score a finish in a season mostly characterized by DNFs.
Two Quebec drivers, rookie Alexandre Beland and Ugo Desgreniers are third and fourth respectively. Beland has shown impressive speed this season despite making his debut earlier this year, and had a career best finish at Pacific Forest Rally. Beland and co-driver Lyne Murphy are on pace to better that result in Bancroft.
Warren Haywood and Jennifer Daly are leading the Production GT rankings by more than a minute, and appear to be having a trouble-free run. Haywood and Daly ranked fifth overall after four stages. They are also leading the regional field, two spots ahead of Ryan Huber and John Vanos.
Ed McNelly and Ole Holter are leading the two wheel drive class, but Eric Grochowski and Leanne Junnila are on track to win teh national title, needing to finish seventh or better in their class.
Stages continue all day and into the evening.