Crazy Leo Wins War of Attrition at Tall Pines

Bancroft, ON "Crazy" Leo Urlichich scored the maiden victory of his brief rallying career this past weekend at the Canadian Rally Championship finale, the Rally of the Tall Pines in Bancroft, Ontario. After top contenders Antoine L'Estage and Pat Richard were forced to retire from the event, Leo cruised to victory 32 seconds ahead of second-placed CRC debutant David Higgins.

Despite one of the largest and most diverse fields in Tall Pines history, attrition was the theme of the day, with 31 retirements over the course of the rally. As mentioned, both Pat Richard and series champion L'Estage failed to finish, each suffering a blown transmission.

The debut victory for the 26 year old was a huge hit with both fans and fellow competitors alike. Both Richard and L'Estage were almost as excited as Leo himself, who seemed more eager to thank the car and the rest of his team than to take the glory for himself.

Higgins, a British rallying veteran who made his debut in the United States this year, had made it clear prior to the event that it was simply a test day for he and the rest of Subaru Rally Team USA. Despite a blown tire early Saturday and clearly not pushing as hard as he could, the Rally America champion still managed to finish in the runner-up spot behind Urlichich.

Bruno Carré rounded out the national podium in third, much to his surprise as he and co-driver Yvan Joyal suffered through overheating issues throughout the day. In fact, the pair had to stop after every stage and pour water on the superheated engine simply in order to continue.

DNFs were also the story in the regional category, with Nick and Kelly Mathew claiming victory and the Ontario Performance Rally Championship after all of their closest competitors retired from the rally.

This left Ontario Performance Rally ChampionshipMichelle Lamframboise to claim her second consecutive podium appearance, with Ryan Huber and John Vanos rounding out the top three.

Despite an all-Subaru top five, Simon Losier's sixth place finish in a Mitsubishi Evo 8 gives the Japanese automaker its first Canadian manufacturer's title. Most of their points, of course, came from Antoine L'Estage's dominant performances throughout the 2011 season.

Bring on 2012 and Perce Neige!