Andrew “ACP” Comrie-Picard and guest co-driver Chrissie Beavis will make the gravel debut of the first rally-prepared Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X on the continent this coming weekend at Canada’s rally season ender.

“We really want to take this opportunity to put the car through its paces on gravel for the first time before we get to the serious building stage,” said Comrie-Picard. “It’s an amazing car and we look forward to getting it out there into gravel rally competition.”

Comrie-Picard drove the car to a Modern division victory at the Targa Newfoundland in September, where it debuted on tarmac in a standard class.

“This Evo X is fantastic right out of the box, and we’ll be able to hold our own, but we have modest expectations for our debut gravel event – our vehicle preparation has just begun,” said Comrie-Picard.

At the Rally of the Tall Pines, the team will enter the NOS Energy Mitsubishi into the Open class of competition – an extremely liberal preparation standard that allows some of the most comprehensive vehicle modification for the sport in the world.

Other top Open class cars in the contest have already had extensive investment in development for gravel rally.

The team plans to develop the Evo X for gravel over the course of the coming year, bringing performance modifications online throughout the season. They will be supported by students at the University of Windsor in an innovative partnership with the school’s automotive engineering department.

Using a brand-new, 2009 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X that Mitsubishi Canada has donated to the school, students are engaging in a course of study to develop racing technology. The ACP Rally team will test the student innovations in real-world racing conditions.

“It’s the perfect course of study for the next generation of automotive engineers,” said Comrie-Picard. “We are really tough on our competition vehicles, pushing them to the limits in gruelling environments for long periods of time — what we do creates a fabulous engineering challenge for students.”

Among the study areas are an examination of performance turbocharger set-ups, advanced suspension and roll cage design. Students and faculty from the school will be on hand at the Rally of the Tall Pines, and at events throughout the coming year.

The program is a credit to the hard work of student Mike Johnston, a longtime rally technician who has been a dedicated member of the ACP Rally team. A student of automotive engineering at the University of Windsor, he proposed the idea for the program.

The storied Rally of the Tall Pines is an event that features some of the toughest driving challenges in North America, with conditions often referred to as, “winter roads, and summer ditches.” Unpredictable weather at this time of year means the roads can be slick with ice or snow — but this early in the cold season there are no cushioning snowbanks to help keep the cars out of the deep ditches.

More than 40 teams are expected to take the start at this event, with the Team ACP competing in the first and only Evo X in the field.
The rally takes place November 20-22, and includes more than 150 kilometers of competitive stages run in the Canadian Shield setting around Bancroft, Ontario.

Comrie-Picard has run a busy 2008 season with events on both sides of the Canada-U.S. border.

Rally racing is one of the most challenging motor sports and competitors are widely considered the most skilled drivers in the world. Teams race against the clock on variable terrain in modified cars that closely resemble those that the average consumer can find at their local dealer. The sport requires intense teamwork between driver and co-driver and extreme skill behind the wheel.

The sport is featured in the annual X Games, the premier action sports event on the globe, featuring athletes competing for medals and prize money in sports including BMX Freestyle, Moto X, Skateboard, and Rally. X Games 14 this summer was ESPN’s most-viewed X Games, with more than a million people tuning into the broadcasts in the United States alone. Rally car racing event was added to the X Games in 2006, and Comrie-Picard has been among the dozen invited drivers in each of the three years.

About the Driver: Andrew Comrie-Picard is a contender for the top of the ranks in the American, Canadian, and North American rally championships. He is one of just a handful of drivers to compete at the X Games Rally in each of the three years since it was introduced to the contest. When he isn’t racing, Comrie-Picard works as a television host and divides his time between Toronto, Canada, and Los Angeles, California

About the Co-Driver: Guest co-driver Chrissie Beavis is a second generation rally competitor who says she’s been involved with the sport since she was in the womb. Co-driver to Tanner Foust in 2007 and 2008, this architect-to-be is also a driver — she has a (Group 2) Volkswagen Jetta that she campaigns in the California series near her home. Beavis, a veteran U.S. competitor, is co-driving her first Canadian event alongside ACP at Tall Pines.

The ACP Rally program is made possible by: NOS Energy (www.drinknos.com), Mitsubishi Canada (www.mitsubishi-motors.ca), Yokohama Canada (www.yokohama.ca), K&N (www.knfilters.com), Motul (www.motulusa.com), Works (www.worksevo.com), HotBits (www.hotbits.ca), Brian Crower (www.briancrower.com), JE (www.jepistons.com), Exedy (www.exedyusa.com), Oakley (www.oakley.com), Innovate Motorsports (www.tuneyourengine.com), NBB (www.nbblights.ca), Sparco (www.sparcousa.com), Piloti (www.piloti.com), Skull Candy (www.skullcandy.com), and Clearwater Design and the Crerar family (www.clearwaterdesignboats.com).

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