Besner Wins Black Bear Rally

After going off the road at Galway three weeks ago, Jean-Sebastien Besner put his season back on track with a dominant victory at the Black Bear Rally.

Competing in one of the toughest events on the OPRC schedule, Besner and his son, Marc-Olivier Lamontagne, found the perfect balance between pace and consistency. Winning nearly every stage en-route to his second Ontario win of the year, Besner put up a dominant performance at Black Bear.

"The car was not very good" Besner admitted, "fortunately the guys at service, before we did leg C, were able to find the problems... we made it to the end - very happy."

But Besner didn't go unchallenged at Black Bear. Joining current Championship leader Bruno Laverdière and second-placed Simon Vincent was North American rally veteran Andrew Comrie-Picard.

Comrie-Picard (ACP) was returning to the roads that he cut his teeth on in the early days of his rally career. And despite a tepid start - largely due to the fact that he was shaking down a new car - he and Brian O'Kane eventually found their groove.

Regaining their pace, ACP and O'Kane joined what became a four way battle for second. Championship leader Bruno Laverdière and second place Simon Vincent sat hot on the heels of ACP throughout the day, with American driver Alex Kuklov also within striking distance of a podium spot.

But as the day wore on, Comrie-Picard gradually increased his hold on second, and the battle for second turned to a battle for third. In what was also a battle for the championship lead, Vincent and Laverdière traded stage times through the second and third loops.

With neither driver making a major mistake, the position came down to a contest of pure speed. And when the dust finally settled, Simon Vincent earned the final podium spot, with Bruno Laverdière right behind in fourth. Heading into the next event, Laverdière retains a slight lead over Vincent in the overall championship standings.

"It was a good day overall" Vincent recalled, "it started slow, unfortunately for me... then throughout the day we had a great battle with Bruno, we exchanged stage times throughout the day. Overall, a good day for me."

After pulling away in the runner-up spot, ACP never looked back, posting a second place finish in his return to Ontario rallying.

"I've been lucky to be on the podium here a few times" Comrie-Picard said, "second is not my favourite place to be but against Besner it's a great result."

In the 2WD class, Zoltan Kovacs and Guy Boudreau took home the category victory. This, despite a challenging event that saw Kovacs' Mistubishi take a beating on the rough gravel stages, with Kovacs driving over half the event with no clutch. The victory moves Kovacs into the class lead.

"We probably had the toughest rally we've ever done" Kovacs mused, "took the lead on the second stage but at the start of the fourth stage we lost the clutch... but we still did good!"

Philippe Benoit and Maxime Gagnon finished second in class, and Juggernaut Motorsports' Gary Sutherland and Kylee Davis rounded out the podium in the third spot.

Former 2WD Championship leader Nicolas Laverdière hit a rock on the second stage of the day, eventually retiring from the event with suspension damage.

The Ontario Performance Rally Championship resumes in a month's time at Rallye Defi.