This past weekend, the Eastern Canadian Rally Championship (ECRC) presented its final event of the 2021 season. It consisted of a doubleheader, with two rounds from the Lincoln Electric Rally of the Tall Pines counting towards the series. On the tricky gravel roads in the region of Bancroft, Ontario, which were this weekend covered with a light dusting of snow, the two rounds produced a lot of excitement and ended with two different winners.
The first round was dominated from start to finish by Jérôme Mailloux and Philippe Poirier. With their Test Racing Subaru WRX STI, they claimed the victory by about a four-minute lead over Ontarians Jeremy Drake and Savanna Kovacs in their Subaru Impreza RS. Brothers Vincent and Christopher Trudel completed the podium, in front of novices Andrew Miller and David Bell, all competing in Subaru WRX STIs.
The battle for the fifth place was tight until the very end, with less than a minute separating all teams finishing from fifth to eighth spots. Dimitri Kishkarev and Michael Szewczyk (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo) lead that group at the finish, ahead of Trevor Pougnet/Ryan Rouleau (Subaru WRX STI), Réjean Perron/Olivier Landreville (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo) and Olivier Martel/Vincent Hubert (Subaru WRX STI).
Laurens Wit and Jonathan Cox (Subaru WRX STI) finished in ninth, in front of the 2 wheel-drive winners Charles Hammer and Guillaume Dozois in a historic Volvo 242 Turbo.
Despite their domination in the first round, Mailloux/Poirier failed to make it to the end of round 2. For the second consecutive rally, after that in Charlevoix last month, the team suffered mechanical problems in the final competitive stage. This didn’t impede them from finishing – and winning – the last event but this weekend at Tall Pines, because of the doubleheader, there was a rare second round to contest. Without being able to restart, as a result of their mechanical issues, the team had to retire from the nighttime round but thanks to their victory earlier in the day, they earned enough points to clinch the 2021 championship title.
This second round of the day also comprised of a lot of changes in the leaderboard. In the end, the young and promising Quebec driver Oliver Martel claimed the win. Co-driven by Vincent Hubert in a Subaru WRX STI, Martel, who was slowed by a flat tire in the first round, finished ahead of Drake/Kovacs by a gap of one minute and one second. For Jeremy Drake and Savanna Kovacs, this impressive performance solidified them a fourth-place finish in the overall championship standings, behind Mailloux/Poirier, the Trudel brothers and the Leblanc brothers.
The bright stars of the event, Andrew Miller and David Bell completed the second round’s podium, in front of Pougnet/Rouleau and Martin Donnelly/Cezary Maciocha (Subaru WRX STI). The Top 6 was completed by Wit/Cox, who were faster than the 2 wheel-drive winners of Sean McConnachie and John Gerryts by only two-tenths of a second. Perron/Landreville finished in eighth overall, ahead of the 2 wheel-drive second and third place teams of Gary Sutherland/David Koiter (Ford Focus) and Hammer/Dozois.
In total, 16 of the 21 registered teams completed the final 2021 ECRC event’s first round and 13 completed the second. The Rally of the Tall Pines national championship event winners were André and René Leblanc.
In the 2021 ECRC final championship standings, Jérôme Mailloux and Philippe Poirier finish on top overall. Gary Sutherland and John Gerryts are the 2-wheel drive champions, Vincent and Christopher Trudel win the Production 4 wheel-drive title, and Jim Stevens/Brandon Pace are the Production 2RM winners.
The Eastern Canadian Rally Championship (ECRC) consisted of six events this season, spread out between Ontario and Quebec. The next event will take place in early February in Quebec, as part of the Rallye Perce-Neige and will mark the opening of the 2022 season.