Monday, November 25th, 2019
Crazy Leo Urlichich brought a new co-driver, Tatiana Nikolaeva, to the Lincoln Electric Rally of the Tall Pines, held in Bancroft, Ontario. The team completed more than 180 km of stage distance in their Subaru STI to finish atop the podium in impressive fashion.
Crazy Leo first met Nikolaeva more than 15 years ago, and the pair dated in high school. After reconnecting recently, Leo suggested they go on a “date” in a rally car. Nikolaeva agreed and set to studying her role as a co-driver.
“It’s just such an amazing time,” said Nikolaeva at the end of the rally. “We had so much fun. I’m ready to do the next one.”
For Crazy Leo, the event could not have gone better, with the pair spraying champagne at the podium.
“The start of the rally, we had to adjust our timing a little – sometimes I was ahead, and sometimes she was ahead,” said Crazy Leo. “Once we found our rhythm, I could tell we were going to have a great event.”
David Berubé and Marilou Leblanc won in Open class in their Subaru STI and finished second overall in their first Rally of the Tall Pines. The pair were raised on rallying, in New Richmond, Quebec, and have competed together for years. All of that experience came together on Saturday for the TEST Racing Team, who earned their second national podium in as many events.
“I’m so happy, and I am so tired,” said Marilou Leblanc, at the finish. “We’re both really happy. We tried not to think about the position we had in the rally and just focus on each stage.”
For Berube, the result was very satisfying.
“It was such a long day,” said Berubé. “To finish with the podium result is so good. I’m happy after such hard stages for such a good result.”
Rounding out the podium, and winning the 2WD class, Philippe Benoit and Eric Dubé were jubilant crossing the finish line in their MINI Cooper.
“This is so amazing,” said Benoit. “I feel like my head is going to explode.”
For all of his excitement, Dubé wanted to make sure the team showed their appreciation.
“Thank you so much to all the volunteers with the event,” said Dubé. “I am so happy with how we drove, to finish on the overall podium is a really good feeling.
Fourth overall and second in 2WD, Sean Burke and Nathan Werner made the most of their Honda CRX on roads that continued to serve up variable conditions. The team made the trip up from Pennsylvainia to take on the Rally of the Tall Pines, and were rewarded with a podium finish in class.
Joel Cates and Tiffany MacDonald made the long haul from Western Canada to make their first attempt at the legendary Ontario event. Despite a flat tire on the rough Egan Creek stage, the team were able to round out the top five and take second overall in Production 4WD, earning valuable points in their effort to lock down that title.
Third place in 2WD went to Kevin Brolin and Dan Downey in a BMW 325i.
Some teams did not fare so well. Conner Martell and Robbie Durant had dominated the event until the afternoon, but engine problems showed signs of getting worse, and the team was forced to withdraw while leading overall.
Likewise, the Arsenault brothers, from Caplan, Quebec, had electrical problems, and a leaking exhaust manifold that put an end to their event.
Weather was cold and crisp, with sunny skies overhead. Those conditions meant the shaded gravel corners stayed frozen while corners with sun exposure softened up, some saturated with water. When one corner felt like tarmac, and the next was wet and slippery, it was difficult for the drivers to commit in full force on the stages.
The Canadian Rally Championship concludes at the Big White Winter Rally, in Kelowna, BC, December 6-8, 2019.