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Richard walking tall at Pines

Tough track takes its toll on Mitsu-driving champ L’Estage

Published November 30, 2012

Having suffered a disappointing season so far, Subaru driver Patrick Richard and co-driver Alan Ockwell were looking to finish up 2012 on a high note. All they had to do was beat reigning Canadian Rally Champions Antoine L’Estage and Nathalie Richard. Easier said than done.

During the early stages of the Rally of the Tall Pines, it looked as if L’Estage was going to sweep the day, setting fastest times right up until just before the final service stop of the day.

That was when a rear suspension failure on the Mitsubishi cut their lead over Richard’s Subaru from 48 seconds to just 19. Add in an overheating problem (the result of damaging the radiator on a jump) and things were looking interesting. Meanwhile, the Subaru of Richard and Alan Ockwell was ticking along quite nicely, with no problems.

While the Rockstar crew hustled to repair the Evo IX, word came in to service that third place Alexandre Beland had hit a bridge, which moved Ugo Desgreniers up to third and Nick and Kelly Mathew into fourth. As if that wasn’t enough, the Mathews’ 2 Brits Racing Subaru limped in to service on three flat tires. Tall Pines was taking its toll on the field.

Over the final two hours of competition, the drama continued. Going into the next to last stage, L’Estage’s lead was down to just one second. A seven-minute stop to change a flat tire seemed like it might be the end of the battle, except that the Subaru Canada entry was having challenges of its own.

Also suffering a flat, Richard gambled and continued to drive on the damaged front tire. As the tire disintegrated, it damaged a brake line, meaning that the Sube had no front brakes.

After the flying finish, Pat crimped the brake line in order to continue. On the final stage, the B.C. driver was going as hard as he dared without front brakes. A rough landing from a jump caused the right rear brake caliper to seize on.

By the time the Subaru crossed the finish, the right rear was on fire. The Subaru team’s gamble paid off as Richard and Ockwell took the overall win ahead of the Rockstar Mitsu and the Subaru of Desgreniers and Kirby.

“Mad Max” Papis to race for Toronto area Ferrari team in 2013

Earlier this week, at a swanky function at Ferrari of Ontario, a partnership between AIM Autosport and R. Ferri Motorsport to campaign the No. 61 Ferrari 458 Otalia in the 2013 Grand-Am Rolex Series was announced. 2012 Rolex GT Series Champion Jeff Segal, who won behind the wheel of an AIM-prepared Ferrari with share duties with Indycar and NASCAR star Max Papis. The Italian driver has a history with both Ferrari and Ferrari of Ontario, having driven a 333SP endurance racer for Remo Ferri back in the 1990s.

“What I’m looking for is to bring a different kind of fans to Grand-Am, from Indycar and NASCAR,” said Papis about his involvement in the Grand-Am series.

Papis claims to be looking forward to getting back behind the wheel of a Ferrari, but the driver’s emphasis on his intentions to bring NASCAR fans into the sports car fold may go a long way to answering why a Canadian team hasn’t chosen a driver from the deep talent pool here in our community.

Having won the Rolex GT Championship in their first season with Ferrari, AIM Autosport has big shoes to fill in 2013. With their partnership with Ferri and proven hot shoes behind the wheel, you can bet the team will be in the hunt for a win at the Rolex 24 at Daytona in January.

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