Posted by François-Olivier Gagnon
The second of six rounds of the Canadian Rally Championship Presented by Subaru and Supported by Yokohama was held this past weekend in the Gaspé region of Eastern Québec. The ever popular Rallye Baie-des-Chaleurs saw L’Estage and Richard, the North American and Canadian title holders, beat the record for most wins in the event. Second place finishers Patrick Richard and Rob Fagg kept their lead in the 2013 championship.
Rain made for tough sledding on muddy and slippery roads throughout this 36th edition of the “Rallye Auto nord-américain de la Baie-des-Chaleurs”, which certainly made for an exciting show. Multiple incidents and surprises amongst the front runners kept spectators and participants on their toes throughout the event.
Championship leaders Patrick Richard (Squamish, BC), and British co-driver Rob Fagg won the first event of the 2013 season, the Rallye Perce-Neige, and showed up with their Subaru Impreza WRX STi with one single objective in mind: to win this rally. Unfortunately for the team, driver Pat Richard injured an ankle and heel in a snowboard accident this past March and the team knew that winning their fifth Baie-des-chaleurs was more than a tall order.
And it was, as showed at the first Saturday morning special stages, when Antoine L’Estage (St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, QC) and co-driver Nathalie Richard (Halifax, NS) went onto full-attack mode and built up an apparently insurmountable lead after the first stage. Mechanical gremlins stuck the L’Estage/Richard duo in the second part of the day, forcing the driver ease up on the overheating engine, the result of a blown head gasket. The Rockstar team thus gave up a 10 seconds lead to Richard and the Subaru team by the end of the first day.
The Can-Jam Motorsports team of Leo Urlichich (Toronto, ON) and Welsh co-driver Martin Brady would have loved to be part of the fight amongst the leaders, climbing momentarily into 2nd place before mechanical trouble forced them out of the event.
The final part Sunday afternoon saw the Antoine L’Estage / Nathalie Richard team drive back into the lead, and win their 5th Rallye Baie-des-Chaleurs, thus adding to their record of excellence in this event. It was not all bad news for Pat Richard and the Subaru Canada Rally Team, as their second-place finish helped them add to their overall Championship lead.
The third step on the podium went to Maxime Labrie (La Prairie, QC) and his co-driving father, Robert Labrie (Montmagny, QC) in a Subaru Impreza WRX. The Labrie team gained third place when Urlichich was forced to withdraw from the event, and kept the position despite a late attack from the Steeve Hobbs/Jean-Mathieu Tremblay tandem. Max Riddle (Vancouver, BC) and co-driver Darren Garrod (Squamish, BC) rounded out the Top 5.
Another family affair, Sylvain Vincent and his son Simon (Terrebonne, QC), experienced some turbo issues with their Subaru Impreza WRX in the first stages, and then clawed their way back up to sixth at the finish. Hardy Schmidtke (Cochrane, AB) and John Hall (Sherwood Park, AB) came in 7th, followed by the Brossard (QC) pair of Frank and Larissa Lognay.
Marc-André Larose (Rougemont, QC) and Yves Lafrenière (St-Basile, QC) won the 2WD Production class handily, with an excellent 11th overall result that places them 9th in the Canadian Championship and leading rookies, aboard their BMW 318. Other class winners include Martin Walter (North Gower, ON) and Ferdinand Trautsmandorff (Nepean, ON) in Open 2WD.
The next event in the 2013 Canadian Rally Championship Presented by Subaru and Supported by Yokohama, the Rallye Défi, will take place in Ste-Agathe (QC), September 6 and 7.
1) Antoine L’Estage – Nathalie Richard (Mitsubishi Lancer Évo.10) – 1h39’03,0″
2) Patrick Richard – Robert Fagg (Subaru Impreza WRX) – 1h39’56,5″
3) Maxime Labrie – Robert Labrie (Subaru Impreza WRX) – 1h45’12,6″
4) Steeve Hobbs – Jean-Mathieu Tremblay (Subaru Impreza WRX) – 1h46’08,6″
5) Max Riddle – Darren Garrod (Subaru Impreza WRX) – 1h47’32,8″
6) Sylvain Vincent – Simon Vincent (Subaru Impreza WRX) – 1h50’08,0″
7) Hardy Schmidtke – John Hall (Mitsubishi RKT Évo.9) – 1h53’09,7″
8) Frank Lognay – Larissa Lognay (Subaru Impreza WRX) – 2h02’34,5″
9) Marc-André Larose – Yves Lafrenière (BMW 318Ti) – 2h08’28,5″
10) Patrick Marcoux – Chantal Villeneuve (Subaru Impreza WRX) – 2h11’40,4″
“Top 5” 2WD
1) Marc-André Larose – Yves Lafrenière (BMW) – 2h08’28,5″ (1st 2WD Production)
2) Jeffrey Dowell – Emily Dowell (Mitsubishi) – 2h13’12,3″ (2nd 2WD Production)
3) Martin Walter – Ferdinand Trauttmansdorff (Nissan) – 2h22’58,4″
4) Éric Deschênes – Catherine Asselin (Toyota) – 2h23’20,2″ (3rd 2WD Production)
5) Paul Hartl – Chuck Norris (Volkswagen) – 2h23’22,5″