Monday, January 28th, 2019
Karel Carré developed an early reputation for pushing limits, sometimes reaping the benefits, other times, the consequences. In 2018 Carré proved his detractors wrong while on the way to winning the Canadian Rally Championship overall.
Carré benefited immensely from the guidance of his father, Bruno, himself a national rally winner. Young and determined, Karel pushed hard at every event, sometimes landing on the podium. However, that approach also landed the young driver well off the road, and in need of a new car.
With the 2018 season wide open after Subaru Rally Team Canada withdrew their team for the year, Carré was one of many hungry competitors ready to have a go at the title. He and co-driver Samuel Joyal opened the season as strongly as possible, winning Rallye Perce Neige.
“It was a great way to start the season,” said Carré. “Hopefully it’s good luck for us for Perce Neige in 2019.”
What evolved over the next couple of events was a championship battle between Carré and his TEST Racing teammate Simon Vincent. Vincent and co-driver Hubert Gaudreau expected Karel to continue to drive as he had in the past, and they planned their championship accordingly.
Vincent and Gaudreau set about running every event of the year – ultimately skipping the Big White Winter Rally – and counted on their consistency to win out over the greater outright speed of their rival.
As such, the pair led the championship for the first half of the year thanks to a strong result at the Rocky Mountain Rally, an event Carré and Joyal did not enter.
Arriving at Rallye Défi, the battle was close. Over two days of racing, it was Karel that came out on top, finishing second place to notch enough points over fourth-placed Vincent to take over the points lead in the championship season.
It seemed Karel was changing the script.
“Many of the events we did in 2018 were events we hadn’t done,” said Carré. “We did better than I think people expected, and that shows we took the right approach.”
Carré and Joyal focused on running their own events rather than getting caught up in the championship battle. When they headed to new events, the focus was simple; earn as many points as possible through restrained, consistent driving.
“Going west was a big investment, so we didn’t want to make a mistake,” said Carré.
Seeing new roads in unfamiliar terrain meant flexible thinking had to be part of the approach. Without previous notes to work with, the team focused on what worked, and adapted as needed.
“The mountains and trees are really different than what we see at home,” said Joyal. “It felt like the first stage or two we had to adapt our approach to the setting.”
The strategy worked, with the team not only beating Vincent and Gaudreau, but winning overall. In fact, TEST Racing went 1-2 on the weekend, proving the abilities of both teams, and justifying what had evolved into a two-horse race for the title.
At the second-last round of the series, Lincoln Electric Tall Pines Rally, Carré and Joyal once again proved their abilities, winning at the event in their first attempt. Mathematically, the team had done all they’d needed to be declared champions.
It was a tough result for Vincent and Gaudreau, who had all the consistency, but not enough speed to win the title. Vincent was quick to recognize that a new Karel had come out to rally in 2018 and that he and Joyal deserved the title.
Looking ahead to 2019, Karel and Samuel hope to repeat as winners of the season opener this weekend, and plan to race Baie and Défi. From there, the team will evaluate where they stand in the championship and decide on the remaining events.
“As champions, I hope we are more attractive to sponsors,” said Carré. “We’d like to do the whole season, but it will depend on our budget. There are some big teams talking about running the whole year, and that will make things hard.”
“It’s fun to be recognized for what we’ve done,” said Carré. “Looking back on the year, I am most proud of going to events as a first timer and winning Pacific Forest Rally and Tall Pines. It shows how we’ve evolved and how well we work as a team.
“Our success is the result of the work of everyone on the team at TEST Racing. We wouldn’t have been able to do it without them, and the support of our other sponsors. This championship belongs to all of them.”
Watch Karel Carré and Samuel Joyal attempt to repeat as winners of the Rallye Perce Neige this weekend. Follow the action through the CRC Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts, and get the full story here.