Ryan Huber Wins Unforgiving Black Bear Rally

It was dry, dusty and rough conditions that welcomed crews to the 2012 Black Bear Rally, staged just outside the town of Gilmore, Ontario. The lack of moisture left the roads in rough shape, with the conditions taking their toll on the competitors. Of the 17 entries, only 8 completed the rally, with suspension issues being the culprit in most of the retirements.

The dry weather also created issues with dust. Large clouds of dust would hang in the air on certain parts of the road, leaving crews to face clear sections followed by large portions of the stages almost completely obscured.

However, trouble failed to find Ryan Huber and co-driver John Vanos, who had a trouble-free run to first place. The Mississauga driver backed off considerably during the final loop of stages, but showed incredible pace during the early part of the rally.

Andrew Kulikowski and Ryan Nichols broke a long streak of DNFs to finish in second position in their 2000 Ford Focus. In fact, the only event that Kulikowski has finished since early in 2010 is the Galway-Cavendish Forest Rally in both 2010 and 2011. By virtue of their runner-up placing, they also secured a victory in the 2WD category.

Finishing in third place overall, while also winning the Production GT class were Alan Ryall and Bruce Leonard. It marked the first OPRC podium in nearly two years for the pair.

Chris Martin's string of bad luck continued when he broke a strut on the second stage and rolled heavily on to his side. Luckily, both he and Alan Ockwell, subbing in for Martin's normal co-driver Brian Johnson, emerged unscathed.

Tonik Motorsports' Warren Haywood was another victim of the rough conditions, as he too broke a strut on the very first stage of the rally.

Martin Walter was running in second position before he blew a differential on the very last stage of the rally. He had to be towed into service, earning a DNF as a result.

The next round of the Ontario Performance Rally Championship gets underway in a little less than a month's time, when the Galway-Cavendish Forest Rally runs on August 11th in Catchacoma, Ontario.

Correction: an earlier version of this article incorrectly indicated this as the first podium for Ryall and Leonard. Alan reminded us that the pair placed third at Rallye Défi 2010.