Vincent Wins Rally of the Tall Pines

Prior to the 2015 Canadian Rally Championship season finale, Sylvain Vincent had never won a national rally. As amazing as that seems, it is even more incredible that he was able to achieve his first victory in what would be his last rally before retiring from the sport.

But as the rally got underway, it was 2015 champion Antoine L'Estage who led the field, with Vincent close behind. The Subaru driver held the top spot for the first two stages of the day, but then engine problems after the second stage forced him to retire.

With L'Estage out of the event, Sylvain and Simon Vincent pushed hard to stay ahead of their charging rivals. And with the rally win up for grabs, the top five competitors found themselves separated by less than a minute after the fourth stage of the day.

Yet, as the event entered the longer, tougher stages that make up the afternoon and evening, the Vincents began to pull ahead of the rest of the competition. Never relinquishing their lead from the time they gained it, Sylvain and Simon put on a show in their final event as a team.

"It's a great day to finish first in the national." Vincent said at the podium celebrations, "It's the toughest rally to drive and to win."

Chris Martin and Brian Johnson kept the Vincents honest for most of the day, holding steady in second overall for the large majority of stages. But a torn brake hose on the second pass of the Egan stage kept Martin from finishing, as he and Johnson were forced to retire after completing the stage.

Brandon Semenuk and John Hall finished second after a great showing. For Semenuk, his first ever Tall Pines could not have gone better, earning a comfortable cushion on his closest challengers for most of the event. He was also able to apply pressure to Martin in an event that the Ontario veteran had competed in many times before. And when technical issues took the Old School Motorsports driver out of the event, Semenuk took hold of the runner up spot.

Jeremy Norris and Jeff Hagan rounded out the overall podium in third. It was an eventful rally for Norris, who started the day in third, but was knocked down the order with mechanical problems as the rally progressed. Turbo problems, fogging inside the car, and a broken driveshaft all threatened to derail Norris' rally. But the Rally Pilot Racing crew fought through the setbacks, and complimented their Ontario regional championship with a national podium.

"(The) first few stages we were really pushing, and I think we had some good times." Norris admitted, "And then we had an issue that's been plaguing us all year, the turbo boost issue... this afternoon I pushed as hard as I could and made up a lot of time."

Simon Dube and Eric Lachance took first in the 2WD category, solidifying themselves as 2WD National Champions in the process. Dube ran in the top ten for the entirety of the rally, cementing his status as one of the fastest drivers in the country - in any category.

Martin Walter and Ferdinand Trauttmansdorff finished second in class at an event they are very familiar with. The pair had a largely trouble free day as they guided their Nissan 240SX to yet another podium finish.

Robert McNeil and Patrick Wieler rounded out the category in their 2004 Mitsubishi Lancer. The crew kept their car out of trouble and were rewarded with their first ever national podium.

The next two months might be considered the off season for the Canadian Rally Championship, but it will surely be a mad dash to get ready for the 2016 opener at Rallye Perce Neige in early February. With the first event of the new season marking one of the toughest tests of the year, drivers and crews alike will be working non-stop in preparation to tackle the snow and ice of Maniwaki, Quebec.