Peter Thomson Returns To The Podium In Shannonville

2005 Canadian and Ontario Rally Champion Peter Thomson proved that he is still a threat to win anytime he hits a rally stage. Saturday's Shannonville Stages Rally, the second round of the Ontario Performance Rally Championship, marked the first event for Thompson since last year's Galway Cavendish Forest Rally, which he failed to finish.

Thompson fared much better at Shannonville this year, winning the track-based event. With 6-time Canadian Champion Frank Sprongl switching seats to the codrivers spot, Thompson bested closest rivals Nick and Kelly Mathew - no slouches in their own right. Yet he also benefited from being one of the few competitors that didn't run into mechanical difficulties or incur time penalties throughout the day.

"It's been a really good event, I loved it!" Thomson remarked "Preparation's key right? It was fun, we always have a fun time when we run."

Despite a solid event of their own, Nick and Kelly Mathew had to settle for second after fighting through mechanical difficulties during second loop of stages. Shannonville might have been one of the few chances to see the siblings on an Ontario rally stage this year. They plan on doing an event in both the United States and Scotland, but have yet to decide on their OPRC participation for the remainder of the season

"We're actually trying to concentrate on tarmac this year" Nick admitted "I don't think we'll get out and do much gravel this year but we'll probably see more next year."

Third place went to championship newcomer David Lamarre. Despite having very little rally experience, Lamarre went head to head with series veterans Warren Haywood and Alan Ryall in a three-way fight for the final podium spot.

The battle between Haywood and Lamarre came to a head on the final stage of the day, when they were neck and neck for the entire 33KM of tarmac and gravel. Haywood managed to come out ahead on that final stage, but in the end Lamarre and navigator Alex Ouellette earned third place

The 2WD field consisted of just two cars this year. And since the VW Golf of Kurt Thiel and Russell Norton was the only car to finish, they received top honours in class. However, they posted some very good times throughout the day, especially considering they were matched up against a field of more powerful 4WD cars.

Martin Donnelly and Angela Cosner had a tough day at Shannonville. Simply looking to get some tarmac running in, the Can-Jam crew hit a gate and then the Golf of Thiel and Norton, causing significant damage to their Subaru. After originally dropping out and bringing the car in for repairs, they restarted for the afternoon set of stages. But eventually the damage proved to be too significant, and they had to retire again on the final stage of the day.

From Shannonville, the OPRC heads back into the forests of Eastern Ontario for the Lanark Highlands Forest Rally, taking place on May 3rd. The former WRC stage is a favourite among spectators and drivers alike, and kicks off the gravel season in Ontario after a long winter hiatus.