On November 25 was the 47th running of the Rally of the Tall Pines and the 21st hosted by the town of Bancroft, ON. This was the 6th of 7 events in the Canadian Rally Championship.
It was an action packed event starting at 9am and running until 10:30pm. The 2017 event consisted of 17 special stages, with the National route covering 483 Kms with 183 Kms of stage and 306 Kms of transit. Half of the race is run in the dark.
The day started off crisp with rain and hail and the day stayed chilly with intermittent bouts of light rain.
At 9am at Rally HQ was the Ceremonial start of the Rally and each competitor was introduced and then departed from the start ramp in timed intervals. They went out to do a few stages and then returned to Rally HQ at 10:30am for Service stop #1 when the competitors were allowed 20 minutes to work on their cars.
After Service #1 the cars headed out to the Iron Bridge area as the cars do Stage A4 heading southbound, they then headed to the Tait Farm area and loop back to the Iron Bridge location for Stage A7 this time heading northbound. The cars then headed back to Rally HQ for service stop #2 when they had 25 mins to work on their cars.
After service #2 they headed back to the Iron Bridge area for Stage B1 Northbound, and made their way through varying stages to the Golton area for Stages B5 and B6 which is a 2 Km run on a dirt track full of mud and water and run in the dark. The cars then headed back to Rally HQ for Service stop #3 where they had 30 mins to work on their cars. This was the final service stop and the last time the teams had to work on their cars.
After service #3 the cars ran the C stages with the Old Detlor at night stage C4 being half way through the last stage as they race to Rally HQ for the finish of the race.
Drivers to watch were #1 Antoine L’Estage who was looking for his 10th Championship title and won the race with a time of 1:57:57.3 L’Estage comes to Tall Pines after winning for the 9th time at the Rallye Defi in Quebec in Sept and then winning the Pacific Forest Rally in B.C in Oct.
“Crazy Leo” Leonid Urlichich #5 who ended up finishing 3rd with a time of 2:01:41.1 Crazy Leo won the 2011 Rally of the Tall Pines event and started off the 2017 season winning the Perce Neige Rally in Feb. Leo also operates a driving school called “Race Lab” in Toronto.
American Conner Martel #14 finished second with a 2:00:42.9 time and Simon Vincent #6 finished 4th with a time of 2:09:13.5. The top 4 cars were all Subaru cars and Subaru clinched the Manufactures Championship.
Missing this year was American Motor sports competitor Travis Pastrana who battled L’Estage in last year’s Tall Pines rally and finished a close 2nd.
If you like Rally car racing, this is a good event to attend. Grab a hot chocolate and watch the cars navigate one of the spectator areas and then get a close up view of the drivers and their cars at one of the service stops. Dress warmly and remember that Rally car racing is a dangerous event with a possibility of the cars running off the road and into the crowd.
Photo credits: Brian Goldschmied, Neena Channan