Antoine L'Estage Wins Tall Pines, Takes Over Series Lead
L'Estage had an unbelievably clean run given the conditions - snow and ice mixed with mud and hard-packed gravel. He managed to get through the long stages with just a single flat and a minor issue with his rear brakes.
By virtue of his win, L'Estage moves into first overall in the CRC standings with one event to go. He now leads Max Labrie by 20 points, heading into the Big White Winter Rally in just over a week's time. Darren Garrod clinched the 2016 co-driver's title.
Former Rally America Champion Travis Pastrana finished second overall after coming to Pines to test for next season. He and Robbie Durant lost a lot of time on the afternoon loop, damaging the left rear corner of his Subaru.
Despite only competing in Canada one other time in his career, Pastrana set some impressive times on the faster, flowing stages, beating L'Estage several times throughout the rally.
Simon Vincent finished third overall in an event that also saw him clinch the OPRC title. After a close call early on, Vincent stayed clean for the remainder of the day. He and Hubert Gaudreau were trailing Maxime Labrie during the day, but Labrie ran into problems during the long night loop, and eventually retired.
Chris Martin looked poised to finish third overall, but began to suffer a wheel bearing issue after leaving service for the final loop of the evening. He and Brian Johnson opted to retire rather than risk the car further.
Jason Bailey and Shayne Peterson won 2WD, and were also the only car to finish in class. Jim Stevens and Jeff Hagan were also on course to finish the rally, but ran into trouble after a water crossing proved too deep for their Suzuki Swift to cross.
Heading to the season finale at Big White, Antoine L'Estage and Maxime Labrie will both be hunting for the series title. While it's unlikely that the conditions will be as challenging as those at Tall Pines, both competitors will face stiff competition from one another as the vie for the overall championship.