L'Estage Wins Third Consecutive Rally at PFR

Antoine L'Estage won his third consecutive Canadian rally by putting in a flawless performance at the Pacific Forest Rally, and despite suffering a puncture on the final stage of the event.

Driving this time with veteran WRC codriver Craig Parry, the reigning Canadian champion now pulls within six points of series leader Pat Richard, setting up a tantalizing finish to the season with two rallies remaining.

As was the case at Rallye Defi back in early September, brake issues plagued Richard and codriver Rob Fagg throughout the event. Amazingly the Subaru factory team appeared to lose most of their time due to a puncture on the rally's third stage, as opposed to the continuing brake problems. Coupled with transmission gremlins throughout day 1, it is amazing that Richard finished at all, let alone coming home in second, just under 45 seconds behind L'Estage.

Max Riddle and Darren Garrod looked set to round out the podium, which would have been their second in as many events. But a catastrophic wheel failure early in the rally's second day destroyed their rear suspension, dooming the second Rocket Rally entry.

That should have handed that final podium spot to series stalwarts Hardy Schmidtke and John Hall, who were dead set on beating Riddle and Garrod at PFR. But they were hampered by clutch issues. These problems eventually proved fatal as they couldn't make the necessary repairs to continue on, despite their best efforts to do so.

As a result, the novice crew of Taylor Nelson and Remington Edwards cruised to their first national podium. It was a great outcome for the Alberta based team, especially given the attrition that affected their competitors. Their national podium also gave them first overall in the regional category.

Paul Hartl and Chuck Storry retired early in the event's first day, as they ran wide and ripped the left rear wheel completely off the car. This sabotaged their efforts to chase down national 2WD leaders Jeffrey and Emily Dowell. However, instead of electing to play it safe, the Dowells continued to push hard. Their bravery was not rewarded, however, as they too were forced to retire after an untimely collision with a tree.

This left another novice crew, that of Matt and Dan Bobyn, to stake their claim to first overall in the category. They were followed by Dave Clark and Sean Medcroft in second, and Peter Nazarewycz and Darcy Peters in third place. The second and third placed crews did not actually compete in the national event, so their results will only count towards the Western Canada Rally Championship 2WD category.

The Canadian Rally Championship continues its Western swing at the Rocky Mountain Rally on November 1st and 2nd. The second event on the calendar in Western Canada is a completely new one this year, taking place in and around Invermere, BC instead of its former home in Alberta. After Rocky, the series then returns East for the Rally of the Tall Pines in late November. And by the look of it, the conclusion of the 2013 edition of the CRC could be one for the ages.