Rally of the Tall Pines in Bancroft

Photos and Story submitted by Larry Tayler

 Antoine L’Estage and Alan Ockwell’s 2015 Subaru WRX STI the day before the rally at the Dungannon Recreation Centre.

Antoine L’Estage and Alan Ockwell’s 2015 Subaru WRX STI the day before the rally at the Dungannon Recreation Centre.

 

The Facts:

For the 21st consecutive year, the Town of Bancroft hosted the annual Rally of the Tall Pines on Saturday, November 25, 2017.

Officially known as “The 2017 Lincoln Electric Rally of the Tall Pines,” the rally featured 23 cars – 12 Subarus (WRX STI, Crosstrek, and Impreza), 4 Mitsubishis (Lancer, Evolution, and Evo 8), plus a Mini Cooper, Eagle Talon, Ford Focus, Honda CRX, Dodge Neon, Mazda 323, and Hyundai Accent thrown in for good measure.

 Conner Martell and Grzegorz Dorman’s 2008 Subaru WRX from Vermont.

Conner Martell and Grzegorz Dorman’s 2008 Subaru WRX from Vermont.

 

The drivers (two per team: driver + co-driver) came from Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia, Alberta, Washington, Oregon, Vermont, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, England, and Poland.

The rally is organized by the Maple Leaf Rally Club of Toronto and is the sixth of seven rallies that comprise the 2017 Canadian Rally Championship. Over 200 volunteers, under the leadership of rally co-ordinator Ian Wright, helped make the event happen.

 Head lamps on Peter Thomson and Dan Sprongl’s 2006 Mitsubishi Evolution.

Head lamps on Peter Thomson and Dan Sprongl’s 2006 Mitsubishi Evolution. 

The Feelings:

Wow! Do these drivers know how to boogey! Fast, chippy, muddy, and somewhat mad, they hurtled through Bancroft’s back roads with passion and precision. The drivers and fans are wildly committed to their sport – for them, the worse the weather, the better. At the start of the rally at the Dungannon Recreation Centre (just south of Bancroft on Highway 62), the organizers announced that the drivers would be dealing with mud, ice, and snow. The response from the spectators? A cheer!

 Checking the head lamps on Laurens Wit and Jonathan Cox’s 2002 Subaru WRX.

Checking the head lamps on Laurens Wit and Jonathan Cox’s 2002 Subaru WRX.

The Winner:

For the second year in a row, Québec driver Antoine L’Estage, driving a 2015 Subaru WRX STI from the Subaru Rally Team Canada, won the rally. For L’Estage and his co-driver, Alan Ockwell, it was the fourth straight victory in the 2017 Canadian Rally Championship, almost guaranteeing L’Estage the 2017 driver’s crown and Ockwell the Co-Driver’s crown. The Subaru Rally Team Canada has already won the manufacturer’s championship.

 Gary Sutherland and Kylee Sutherland’s muddy 2000 Ford Focus Juggernaut.

Gary Sutherland and Kylee Sutherland’s muddy 2000 Ford Focus Juggernaut.

The Excitement

It was great fun wandering around the service areas where all the teams lovingly prepared their cars before the actual start of the rally. I also enjoyed watching each of the cars blast off from the starting ramp and head south on Highway 62 for the first leg of the rally, but the most exciting parts of the rally were the mud-covered cars flying through the air and slip-sliding through the hairpin curves! This remarkable event is summarized with the words excitement, colour, and passion.

 Leo Urlichich and Alex Kihurani’s 2007 Subaru WRX STI.

Leo Urlichich and Alex Kihurani’s 2007 Subaru WRX STI.

If you are a car racing fan and would like to experience next year’s Rally of the Tall Pines, start planning early: accommodations in the Bancroft area get booked quickly. For more details about the rally, visit www.tallpinesrally.com.

 Early Saturday morning at the Dungannon Recreation Centre just before the start of the rally.

Early Saturday morning at the Dungannon Recreation Centre just before the start of the rally.

 Brandon Semenuk and John Hall’s 2016 Subaru Crosstrek three seconds away from launch!

Brandon Semenuk and John Hall’s 2016 Subaru Crosstrek three seconds away from launch!

Nicolas Laverdiere and Vincent Aze Trudel’s 2003 Mitsubishi Evo 8 heading south on Highway 62.

Nicolas Laverdiere and Vincent Aze Trudel’s 2003 Mitsubishi Evo 8 heading south on Highway 62.

 Aymeric Levasseur and Bruce Leonard’s 2004 Subaru WRX zooming away from the Dungannon Recreation Centre.

Aymeric Levasseur and Bruce Leonard’s 2004 Subaru WRX zooming away from the Dungannon Recreation Centre.

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