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Rally driver Andrew “ACP” Comrie-Picard put in an aggressive drive this weekend at the Olympus Rally to finish second overall and extend his lead in the Rally America championship series.

“This was an incredibly tough rally,” said Comrie-Picard. “The competition between the top teams was intense; we fought hard for this result.”

It is the third podium finish for the NOS Energy Mitsubishi in three starts in the series.

Entering the event, Comrie-Picard was tied with Rockstar Energy’s Tanner Foust for the championship lead. After a two-day battle over more than 100 miles of rugged stages, Comrie-Picard came out ahead in the points.

After three rounds of the Rally America championship, Comrie-Picard tops the standings with 48 points, while Foust and Subaru Rally Team USA driver Travis Pastrana are tied for second with 45 points apiece.

“We’re thrilled to be leading the championship,” said Comrie-Picard. “We’re gunning for top points this year and we’ll be battling hard at every round.”

The rally opened with a series of extremely fast stages that saw teams top 120 mph on some of the straightaways. Comrie-Picard and co-driver Robbie Durant finished the first day in the third-place position and prepared to charge on the more technical Day 2 course.

Serious mechanical trouble for the early rally leader, Subaru Rally Team USA driver Ken Block, meant the battle was on between Comrie-Picard and Red Bull’s Travis Pastrana for Day 2. The two traded seconds all weekend, even finishing stages in a dead-heat tie.

But as Comrie-Picard prepared to push into the final miles Sunday afternoon, an ailing transmission began to cost them time. Without the use of third or fourth gear through the final two stages of the event, he was unable to catch Pastrana.

“Everybody had problems; Travis and Tanner both had to do some serious transmission work overnight after Day 1, and Ken (Block) blew two motors,” said Comrie-Picard. “There’s no doubt this is a tough sport.”

Third place went to Foust. The driver had made an early bid for the lead but lost time to the leaders on Sunday while running with a back-up gearbox.

The next round for the team is the Portland-based Oregon Trail Rally in a month’s time (May 15-17). Driver Comrie-Picard is also slated to begin running select events in the prestigious Formula D drifting series in the coming months.

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 miles 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 Rally America national championship includes nine events in a cross-continent season that extends from January to late October. The Canadian Rally Championship has six events from coast to coast. ACP Rally will contest a busy season, with rally events on both sides of the Canada-U.S. border, select drift events — 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), 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).

Photo by Jen Horsey

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