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Rally driver Andrew “ACP” Comrie-Picard and Team ACP Rally began the Canadian rally season with a very fast start, challenging for the lead at the Rallye Perce-Neige Maniwaki in the early stages.

“We set an aggressive pace at the outset to try and capture the early lead in a very competitive field,” said Comrie-Picard. “It’s a risky strategy – especially in ice and snow – and it caught me out.”

While pushing hard on the fifth stage, Comrie-Picard and co-driver Chrissie Beavis slid wide on a high-speed corner and found themselves stuck in a snow bank for an agonizing 20 minutes – and out of podium contention.

It was an unusual way for Comrie-Picard to wind up and event on ice and snow. He has previously won both of North America’s national winter rallies and can usually be counted on for a top result in slick conditions.

“Our Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution rally car performed flawlessly and, without our spin, we would have been in a very strong position to win,” said Comrie-Picard.

But the team wasn’t the only one to have trouble at this fiercely contested event that featured an amazing six previous winners – including Comrie-Picard.

Subaru Canada’s Patrick Richard blew an engine and had transmission problems. Frank Sprongl spun out and his car caught fire on the final stage. Local hero Sylvain Erickson had turbo and overheating trouble and his co-driver brother took a blow to the head during a service break. Eventual winner Antoine L’Estage drove a smooth and conservative event to take the win, four seconds ahead of the ailing Ericksons.

“The moral of the story is the same: you win winter rallies by having fewer problems than the other guys,” said Comrie-Picard.

ACP Rally’s next competition will be at the Rally in the 100 Acre Wood in Missouri at the end of this month (February 27-28). The next Canadian round is the Rocky Mountain Rally in late May, where the team has scored five podiums in the past seven years.

“We’re off to a good start in the U.S. – with a podium at Round 1 — and we’ll come back in Canada,” said Comrie-Picard. “The Rocky Mountain Rally will be a good showdown.”

The team is pleased to announce the return of key sponsors NOS Energy Drink, K&N Air Filters, Yokohama Tire Canada, and Mitsubishi Canada, who will again partner with ACP Rally in the 2009 season.

Rally car racing is considered the extreme sport of automobile racing and is often described simply as “real cars, real roads, real fast.” This all-season motorsport sees drivers and their co-drivers take modified road cars to the limit as they achieve blistering speeds over courses that cover hundreds of kilometers of gravel, dirt or snow-covered roads.

The sport is also 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. Comrie-Picard has been among the dozen invited drivers every year since the rally discipline was introduced to the contest, and he has already secured an early invitation to return in 2009.

The Canadian Rally Championship has six events in a cross-Canada season that extends from early February to late November. The Rally America national championship includes nine events from coast to coat. ACP Rally will contest a busy season, with championship events on both sides of the Canada-U.S. border, and the X Games.

The ACP Rally program is made possible by: NOS Energy (www.drinknos.com), K&N (www.knfilters.com), Mitsubishi Canada (www.mitsubishi-motors.ca), Yokohama Canada (www.yokohama.ca), Motul (www.motulusa.com), AMS (www.amsperformance.com), Works (www.worksevo.com), Hot Bits (www.hotbits.ca), Brian Crower (www.briancrower.com), JE (www.jepistons.com), Exedy (www.exedyusa.com), Ohlins (www.ohlinsusa.com), Pfitzner Performance Gearbox (www.ppgearbox.com.au), Mishimoto (www.mishimoto.com), Oakley (www.oakley.com), Innovate Motorsports (www.tuneyourengine.com), Team Dynamics (www.teamdynamicsracing.com), Endless (www.endlessusa.com), NBB (www.nbblights.ca), Sparco (www.sparcousa.com), NGK (www.ngksparkplugs.com), Piloti (www.piloti.com), and Skull Candy (www.skullcandy.com).

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