Tall Pines Rally runs today in Bancroft

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I’m not quite sure how I forgot to post on this, I guess there has just been too many things in my feeble little brain.

The Rally of the Tall Pines is running today in Ontario cottage country. This final event in the North American Rally Championship and Canadian Rally Championship is also known as one of the toughest events in North America. In fact, one description over the years has been “winter roads with summer ditches”. While long time readers may recall that last year I woke up to minus 19 degrees last year at Pines, this year we’ve had a very warm Fall. Here in Whitby, 2 hours south of the event, it is about 10 degrees C out there right now. That is shorts and tee shirt weather!

The warm, wet weather means lots of muddy roads and rally crews are finding that the tires are plugging up badly with mud, making for very slippery driving conditions. You can bet that most teams were up all night grooving tires to evacuate the goo. One team that suffered was the Subaru of Pat Richard and Alan Ockwell, who had an off that fortunately only resulted in cosmetic damage.

If the Ockwell name sounds familiar, its because Alan is the brother of occasional rally guy in The Garage, Erik Ockwell. Erik is up at Pines today and hopefully will be able to get some stories together for us tomorrow. Either way, we’ll have more stories and photos from Andrew Harvey and Warwick Patterson from FlatOverCrest.

Tall Pines 2008: Iron Bridge

The Iron Bridge spectator stage of the Rally of the Tall Pines has been a fan fave for many years thanks to great elevated viewing areas and access to close parking. Arriving late to the stage meant that I had to stay in the cordoned off spectator areas, which limited my view but I still managed to grab a few decent shots.

Gallery after the break
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Pat Richard takes the win at Tall Pines

Official press release from CARS Media with images courtesy of Andrew Harvey.

Bancroft, ON — Patrick Richard and co-driver, Alan Ockwell, overcame treacherous road conditions and high attrition to dominate the Rally of the Tall Pines, held in Bancroft, Ontario. The final round of the 2008 Canadian Rally Championship saw the Subaru Rally Team Canada duo take their fourth win of the year, capping off a picture-perfect championship season.

“It’s fantastic,” smiled Richard, “It’s my best finish ever at Tall Pines and a great way to lead into next year. The team worked really hard all year for the championship.”
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Rally of the Tall Pines: Stage A2

By stage A2 this afternoon, things had already heat up for some teams, while others were falling apart. The keen eyed among you may notice that Ken Block’s Subaru is absent from the photos. No, I didn’t miss him. Block crashed out before he reached me on the stage. Listening to the marshall’s radio told the tale. The car was going to require more extrication equipment than just sweep trucks with winches. They were leaving the car and would go back later with the heavy machinery. That is one well buried Monster! Fortunately, Block and co-driver Gelsomino were uninjured.

All this meant that Block was nowhere to be found later in the afternoon, so no interview for The Garage. Oh well.

I decided to head home after the Iron Bridge stage, so I could get some photos up and tell a bit of the tale so far. At the end of the first 7 stages the top 5 were:

1. #2 Subaru Pat Richard and Alan Ockwell
2. #11 Subaru Craig Henderson and Lyne Murphy
3. #1 Hyundai Antoine L’Estage and Nathalie Richard
4. #34 Subaru Nick Mathew and Kelly Mathew
5. #5 Mitsubishi Seamus Burke and Eddie Fries

The rest of the field has had all sorts of troubles ranging from offs to mechanical dnfs. When I left, they had been dropping like flies. In fact there were already 9 cars off the road for one reason or another.

The team at FOC will keep us up to date on the event as soon as they can get some decent wireless.

For now, check out the view from above the water crossing on The Peanut.
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2008 Rally of the Tall Pines: Dawn comes early and cold

I seem to recall mentioning in last night’s post that it was cold in Bancroft. Well folks, last night was nothing compared to this morning! When I left the hotel at 6:30 it was minus 19 degrees celsius according to the dash in the 2009 Mazda6 that I have this week. Ponder that if you dare. Suffice it to say that it was damn cold.

Early morning for a winter rally means teams spend lots of time coaxing heat into reluctant race cars. Remember, the modern cars are big horsepower, full race monsters that don’t like cold. Most of the classics breath through Weber carbs, which are not exactly conducive to this sort of cold.

As there was next to no internet signal available and my night time photography skill suck, not to mention that I’m a wuss, I decided to come home early and report a bit and leave the Flat Over Crest guys to post the final results later tonight. Oh yeah, they take much better photos than I do too!

Did I mention it was cold? I’ve had a 2 hour drive in a nice warm car and a hot shower and my nards are still somewhere near my lungs!

Huge gallery from Park Expose after the break.
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Rally of the Tall Pines 2008: Friday update

Perhaps the most significant detail about tonight is that it is colder than a witches teat! Minus 9 Celsius. too damn cold to be slinging a camera around. Even still, the sound of high strung rally cars and the scent of exotic race fuels in the air are enough to take the edge off the cold.

Tonight, the teams ran a few shakedown runs, did odo checks and a few media rides. Tomorrow morning bright and early, the fun starts. We’ll try to keep the photos coming as the day goes on. Meanwhile, I’m going to learn what I can from the FOC guys.

Gallery after the break
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2007 Rally of the Tall Pines ready to roll this weekend

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As the marketing guys for one of the Canadian sports channels used to say in their spots: Real Cars, Real Roads, Real Fast. Or something to that effect!

The Rally of the Tall Pines, or Tall Pines as it is known has historically been the final round of the Canadian Rally Championship. It is one of the longest (if not THE longest) running performance rallies in North America. Some of the greatest names in rallysport have come to Ontario cottage country to compete in one of the toughest events in the sport.

The 2007 running of Tall Pines takes place this weekend, beginning in Bancroft, Ontario. If you have never seen top flight rally cars in action, then it is well worth the 2 hour drive north of Toronto on Saturday. If you look hard, you might even find guys like Andrew Harvey and Warwick Patterson st the side of the road with you working their magic with the camera!

Last year, our man Jaimie made the trip and you can see his photos here.