Case Study: Comrie-Picard Lancer Takes 2nd Place at Rocky Mountain
Rally with Innovate Wideband and Data Acquisition
Driver Andrew Comrie-Picard and Innovate Motorsports had a terrific
event at the Rocky Mountain Rally 2004, a challenging driving
event based in the foothills of southwestern Alberta. The Boisvert
Mitsubishi team finished in second place overall and was the
only privateer (non-factory) team to win a stage of the rally.
“I love the LM-1. Everything has worked perfectly, including
the drop to our Autronic ECU,” said Comrie-Picard. “Given
the challenges we had before the event, the actual rally seemed
like a coda to the whole experience.”
The team had several pre-event challenges. After preparing the
car and towing it to Alberta from Montreal, the specialized racing
gearbox fitted to the car failed in simple Calgary traffic when
it selected two gears at the same time.
“Let’s say it was a long night before the rally” said
Martin Strange of the Musketeer service crew. He and Simon Losier
from Blainville Mitsubishi worked from Thursday evening nonstop
to Friday afternoon to swap the transmission and differentials
to the team’s spare gearbox, which is a non-racing spec
street Lancer Evolution model.
“The guys were pretty tired,” said co-driver Marc
Goldfarb, “but they’ve faced these kind of challenges
before and always come through. We've lost two engines in the
last two years. Obviously we operate these engines close to their
envelope, but the LM-1 is now allowing us to define where the
edges of the envelope really are, and I'm confident that our
engines are going to last longer as a result. In particular,
I wanted to have the LM-1 logging data from this particular rally
that is at high altitude in the Rocky Mountains - every year
this event blows engines thanks to people using their sea-level
calibrations. We simply unloaded the car 15 miles from the start
of the event at high altitude, turned on the LM-1, and tailored
our mixture to the conditions. Last year I ended this event with
pistons spread across the mountainside, and this year I'm on
the podium. Can't argue with that."
The second-place result is even more remarkable as the racing “dogbox” is
generally reckoned to save a team one second per kilometer in
a rally with its clutchless shifts. The competitive sections
of the rally totaled 166km and Richard won the rally by 173 seconds.
Comrie-Picard has not competed with a synchromesh gearbox for
over a year, and all of his principal competitors, including
rally winner Patrick Richard and third place Antoine L’Estage,
were using dogboxes.
“The driving is very different with a synchromesh transmission.
The ratios are longer and the shifting has to be planned much
earlier in the corner. Also the weight transfer you can induce
mid-corner with a quick clutchless shift is essentially impossible
without the sychro box. I’m happy that we had a good result
on the normal ‘box, but it’s so competitive at the
front of the championship that we can’t afford to continue
without the dogbox.” Said Comrie-Picard. He admitted that “Patrick
was really flying and we would have had our work cut out for
us even with the dogbox.”
Comrie-Picard and Richard between them won all the stages at
the rally. The conditions were generally dry despite snow on
the roads the week before, although a sudden hailstorm made certain
sections of the Beaver Pond area muddy and tricky. Many cars
rolled on the sharp dropoffs, including the factory Subaru of
Tom McGeer, top Group 2 competitor Gord Olsen, the WRXs of Peter
Thomson and Joel Levac, and the only VW new Beetle competing
in Canada. Third place competitor L’Estage, also on Yokohama
tires, stayed on the road but had a problem with the transmission
and wastegate actuator.
The result puts Comrie-Picard and Goldfarb in a tie for second
place in the Canadian Rally Championship and the leading privateers
behind the factory Subaru of Richard. By winning the event Richard
now has a powerful lead in the championship. “There are
still four difficult rallies left in the season” said crew
chief Francois Veilleux, “and anything can happen.”
Full results are available on www.rockymountainrally.com.