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

“It was a good debut, and we’re pleased,” said Comrie-Picard. “Our plan was to shake down the car and develop it for next season and the Tall Pines Rally gave us an excellent opportunity to do just that.”

The duo were on pace for a top-five finish, but a flat tire cost them 10 minutes and they ended the day in 11th overall.

“It’s a real credit to Mitsubishi engineering that the essentially street-stock Evo X can hold its own in this sport against highly modified competition cars,” said Comrie-Picard. “It is going to be a real threat at any contest next season.”

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.

At Tall Pines, the team entered 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 had already had extensive investment in development for gravel rally.

The team started the contest with a few minor modifications to the car, including a Wilwood braking set-up developed in co-operation with AMS Performance of Chicago, and a HotBits rally suspension.

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

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 meant the roads were a devilish combination of gravel, and slick snow and ice, without any cushioning snowbanks to help keep the cars out of the deep ditches.

Many teams fell victim to the tough conditions with veterans including Hyundai’s Antoine L’Estage and Subaru Rally Team USA’s Ken Block failing to finish the contest. Fewer than half the starters in the field made it to the finish line.

Comrie-Picard has run a busy 2008 season with events on both sides of the Canada-U.S. border. Team ACP Rally finished the season in third-place overall in the North American championship. The team will be back in action in January with the Rally America season opener, Sno*Drift, in northern Michigan.

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, co-drove 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), Hot Bits (www.hotbits.ca), Brian Crower (www.briancrower.com), JE (www.jepistons.com), Exedy (www.exedyusa.com), Oakley (www.oakley.com), Mishimoto (www.mishimoto.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).

Find us on YouTube or Facebook under ACP Rally. Photo by Jen Horsey.

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