Once again this year, the Pacific Forest Rally is poised to be the potential game-breaker as driving teams battle for the 2016 CRC title. With just two more stops in the series — in Bancroft. Ont. in November and at Kelowna’s Big White in December — a win could all but seal the deal for one of the leading contenders.
As of Wednesday of this week, a record 36 entries from across North America were registered to compete in the Pacific Forest Rally, including the top two car-and-driver combinations in this year’s CRC.
Currently in first place in the standings with 49 points is Quebec driver Maxime Labrie and his current co-driver Philippe Poirier in their 2002 Subaru WRX.
Holding down second with 36 points is the driving team of Wim van der Poel and Bryan Lord, both from Edmonton, in their 2003 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8.
Winner of the season-opening Rallye Pierce-Neige in Maniwaki, Que. back in February, Labrie has managed to keep his vehicle on the road, while all around him, drivers and cars have been crashing and breaking down.
One of the notable casualties of bad luck is eight-time PFR winner and defending champion Antoine L’Estage from St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que. Normally the runaway leader in the points standings by the time the CRC comes to the Nicola Valley, the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame inductee finds himself presently in sixth place and a mathematical long shot to capture yet another national rally car title.