Martin/Ockwell Team Up For Lanark Victory

Making his return to the Ontario Performance Rally Championship at a revamped Lanark Highlands Forest Rally, Chris Martin knew he needed an experienced codriver by his side. And in choosing Alan Ockwell, he found himself sitting beside one of the best in the business.

Facing one of the most competitive fields at an Ontario event in recent memory, Martin proved that he too, is one of the best at his craft - winning every stage en route to victory in his first OPRC event in more than a year.

"We didn't have many plans coming in" Martin admitted, "just to get back in the car and enjoy the roads - see how things went. But overall it was pretty good."

And Martin's win came at an expanded event featuring a second stage road, completely foreign to competitors. Instead of running the same stage back and forth, teams were now faced with a challenging loop featuring both the well-known Lavant Mill Road and the new Umpherson's Mill Road.

Hot on Martin's heels for nearly all of the day's 10 stages were Nick and Kelly Mathew. Also making their return to the Ontario Championship after more than a year away, the pair showed well facing many of their closest sporting rivals. Finishing a hair over a minute behind Martin and Ockwell, the Mathews posted a solid second place finish in their series comeback.

"I love these roads, they're fantastic, and I was really looking forward to the new one as well" Nick enthused, "I knew Chris was coming out, Martin (Donnelly) was coming out, and Jeremy (Norris) as well. So really, just wanted to come and have a good battle and have a good day with friends and it turned into that."

Martin Donnelly and Angela Cosner rounded out the overall podium in third place. The reigning OPRC Driver Champion pushed the Mathews hard in his own pursuit of second, but he and Cosner finished just over a minute behind Nick and Kelly. A last second entry at Lanark, (Donnelly wasn't sure he could get time away from work) the entire crew performed admirably getting the car ready for the event, a fact that wasn't lost on the ever-grateful Irishman.

"The boys did a good job at Can-Jam as usual" Donnelly said, "I knew Chris was going to be extremely fast behind me (on the road) and I knew the Mathews are very quick. And any good day when the three of us can run together and trade stage times is a good day for me."

After finishing with a victory at the season opener at Rallye Perce Neige, Jeremy Norris came to Lanark hoping to repeat that success. However, despite running just outside a podium spot for the first three stages, work commitments got in the way and Norris was forced to retire from the event.

In the 2WD category, Martin Walter and Ferd Trauttmansdorff lead from start to finish, despite a spirited challenge from Ontario newcomers Kevin Turner and Matt Rhoads. Using their experience on Lavant Mill Road to their advantage, the veteran crew pushed hard throughout the rally, finishing 35 seconds ahead of Turner and Rhoads in second.

Kurt Thiel rounded out the 2WD podium in the third spot, while driving with Philip Barnes as his codriver. With usual navigator Russell Norton opting to take on the event as a driver, Thiel and Barnes didn't miss a beat, with Thiel taking home valuable championship points in the process.

The OPRC now moves into its summer season, with the Black Bear Rally next on the calendar for teams and spectators alike. The first of two Ontario events to call Bancroft home, the notorious rally uses many of the toughest stages from the Canadian Rally Championship's Rally of The Tall Pines. Points will certainly be at a premium at one of the toughest rallies on the schedule.