Martin Donnelly Wins Revived Shannonville Stages Rally

Martin Donnelly's results on loose-surface rallies speak for themselves. But as it turns out, the Can-Jam driver isn't bad on a track either. Despite the front end of his Subaru finding one of the few trees available at the mostly track-based Shannonville Stages Rally, Donnelly won the event by more than two minutes.

There were some tense moments during the mid day service break, however, with the Can-Jam crew having to work frantically to repair a broken radiator caused by the earlier collision. But by the time the afternoon's stages began, the only reminder of the damage was a slightly bent hood on Donnelly and Angela Cosner's WRX.

Ryan Huber finished the rally in second position, after driving a clean and consistent rally without regular co-driver John Vanos. OPRC regular Kelly Mathew called the notes for Ryan in John's place. He looked comfortable throughout the event, with his driving getting more and more aggressive as the day progressed.

One of the most entertaining drivers of the day was Old School Motorsports' Chris Martin, who finished in third position despite struggling with a punctured right rear tire for most of stage 3. Amazingly, he also punctured both his front tires right at the start of the following stage, forcing him to sit out the remainder of the stage. Martin called it his "most expensive track day ever" as he threw his 1993 Subaru Impreza into massive slides on nearly every turn, destroying nearly his entire supply of tires by the end of the rally. His pace picked up significantly in the afternoon, and he managed to claim the last two stage wins on his way to the final podium spot.

Peter Reilly and Nancy Haywood finished a solid fifth after absolutely flying on stages 1 and 4. Using their tarmac compound tires to their advantage, they won the fourth stage by more than a minute from their closest competition, the charging Ryan Huber. However, their choice to run on asphalt tires limited their speed on gravel sections, and a steering rack failure on the final stage cost them a shot at the podium.

It was an interesting rally for Tonik Motorsports' Jeremy Carle and Logan McAlear, with the pair effectively running without brakes for the majority of the day. Nonetheless, what their car lacked in operating capacity, the crew more than made up for with an admirable performance in their first ever tarmac event.

Jonathan Strack and Bryan Sexsmith took the victory in 2wd, after very nearly not finishing at all. On the final stage, confusion about the route nearly lead to a coming together between their 2000 Ford Focus and the Subaru of event winner Martin Donnelly. Excellent evasive driving by both parties prevented a collision, and both went on to win their respective classes.

Alexi Stapinski and co-driver Jeff Hagan brought their Suzuki Swift to second in class, ahead of Paul Hartl and Chuck Storry in third.

Ontario Performance Rally Championship crews only have a little more than two weeks to regroup before tackling the next round of the OPRC, the Lanark Highlands Forest Rally, taking place during the first weekend of May.