MERRITT, BC – Antoine L’Estage and co-driver Craig Parry won the Pacific Forest Rally this weekend in Merritt, British Columbia, the fourth of six competitions in the Canadian Rally Championship presented by Subaru and supported by Yokohama.
The Rockstar team of L’Estage (St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, QC) and Parry (UK) won the first stage of the rally and never relinquished the lead, despite a late-stage charge by the Subaru Canada Rally Team of Patrick Richard (Squamish, BC) and co-driver Rob Fagg (UK). It was L’Estage’s sixth win in 10 years of contesting the event, and his third consecutive victory this year.
The win brings L’Estage to within six points of the lead of the Canadian Rally Championship for drivers with two events left in the season, and sets up an exciting battle at the Rocky Mountain Rally (Invermere, BC) on November 1st/2nd, where another L’Estage-Richard first-second would bring the Championship to a final deciding round at the Rally of the Tall Pines (Bancroft, ON) November 29th/30th.
Richard and Fagg won five of the 14 stages in their Subaru Impreza STi, despite gearbox woes and brake trouble. L’Estage won all of the remaining stages, giving a margin of victory of 44.6 seconds after one hour and 19 minutes of timed competition, contested over two days.
The battle for third place overall was very exciting, with the team of Max Riddle and Darren Garrod looking to repeat their fine third overall result at the recent Rallye Defi (Ste. Agathe, QC). But a rear suspension failure early on the second day of competition allowed Hardy Schmidtke and co-driver John Hall to take over third, only to lose it themselves shortly afterwards with clutch failure. Schmidtke and Hall had finished second overall on this event last year.
The final overall podium saw the novice team of Taylor Nelson (Lethbridge, AB) and Remington Edwards (Edmonton, AB) bring their Subaru home to a comfortable third overall, a terrific result for a novice team. Fourth overall went to the winner of the Production Four-Wheel-Drive class, for less-highly-modified cars, with novice driver Josh Shewchuk (Peachland, BC) and co-driver Keith Morison (Calgary, AB). The Alberta team of Wim Van der Poel and Bryan Lord rounded out the top five.
In the two-wheel-drive competition, two teams contesting the Canadian Rally Championship that had hauled from Ontario for this event both ran into trouble on the first day of the rally. Jeffrey and Emily Dowell (Mitsubishi Lancer), and Paul Hartl and Chuck Storry (VW Golf) both had off-road excursions on Friday and were unable to continue. This left the door open for Matt and Dan Bobyn (Calgary, AB) to take the class win in their VW Golf, taking a remarkable sixth overall in the process.
Twenty-four teams contested the rally, including 10 competing in the regional Championship portion.
The next event in the Championship is the Rocky Mountain Rally, to be contested near Invermere, BC on November 1st and 2nd. Featuring all-new roads, this will be the first time that this event will be run in the region.
Pacific Forest Rally 2013, Top 8:
1) Antoine L’Estage – Craig Parry (Mitsubishi Lancer EvoX) – 1h19’21,3″
2) Patrick Richard – Robert Fagg (Subaru Impreza WRX) – 1h20’05,9″
3) Taylor Nelson – Remington Edwards (Subaru Impreza WRX) – 1h32’50,6″
4) Josh Shewchuk – Keith Morison (Subaru Impreza WRX) – 1h35’21,9″ (1st Prod.4-Wheel Drive)
5) Wim Van der Poel – Bryan Lord (Mitsubishi Lancer Évo.8) – 1h36’52,9″
6) Matt Bobyn – Dan Bobyn (Volkswagen Golf GTI) – 1h44’01,3″ (1st 2-Wheel Drive)
7) Boris Djordjevic – Andrew Avery (Subaru Impreza WRX) – 1h42’09,2″
8) Krystian Ostrowski – Chris Galecki (Subaru Impreza WRX) – 1h43’33,4″
From Canadian Assocation of RallySport (CARS)