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Rally Driver Andrew Comrie-Picard and his NOS Energy Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX will make a return to U.S. rally competition this coming weekend, following a tough event in Canada.

Comrie-Picard is in a tight battle for the top three in the 2009 Rally America championship as the series winds up. He is currently in fourth place, just two points behind Subaru Rally Team USA driver Ken Block, but he is confident he can move up.

“There’s going to be some great racing in the final two rounds,” said Comrie-Picard. “We’re playing catch-up to the other guys, but we’re going to make every round count this season and claw up the rankings.”

Rally America allows two event drops in the season, counting seven of nine rallies toward the championship. While some teams, like the factory-backed Subaru Rally Team USA, run all nine events, the ACP Rally Team is able to contest seven rounds in 2009 — so every rally counts for the team’s points standings.

Comrie-Picard will be accompanied by guest co-driver Jeremy Wimpey in Colorado.

The team was competing this past weekend at Canada’s Rallye Defi Ste-Agathe in their developing Evolution X when they were forced to abandon the contest at the mid-point after a rock punctured the oil cooler and resulted in damage to the engine.

The driver, with co-driver Robbie Durant, was running a strong third overall in the rally when a rock thrown up in the right wheel well damaged the oil cooler. The team stopped between stages, re-routed the lines to delete the oil cooler, and drained the oil from a spectator vehicle into empty NOS Energy bottles and transferred the oil into the rally car.

It was a triumph of roadside engineering but, when they were finished, they found they were narrowly over the 30-minute maximum lateness permitted by the rules and were not allowed to continue. The engine sustained internal damage thanks to the low oil. Rival driver Patrick Richard, of Subaru Rally Team Canada, retired on the same leg with gearbox damage.

“Obviously this is very frustrating, as we would likely have finished at least second overall and could have used the championship points,” said Comrie-Picard. “But you have to have the endurance to push on, and there are two events left in the Canadian championship to allow us to pull back up in the standings.”

Rallye Defi Ste-Agathe was the team’s first appearance since their top-five result at X Games 15 this summer in Los Angeles.

The high-profile international contest sees only a dozen of the best drivers in the world invited to race head-to-head on a mixed asphalt and dirt course, and features an exciting 70-foot gap jump. Former Indy 500 winner Kenny Brack was the eventual winner. The race is broadcast live on ABC and ESPN, with additional broadcasts in more than 100 countries around the world.

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 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), Bully Dog (www.bullydog.com), 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), Seibon Carbon (www.seiboncarbon.com), Rockford Fosgate (www.rockfordfosgate.com), Piloti (www.piloti.com), Stater Bros. (www.staterbros.com), and Skull Candy (www.skullcandy.com).

For more information and video highlights, visit: www.acprally.com. Find us on YouTube or Facebook under ACP Rally.

Photo by Pete Kuncis (www.onalimbracing.com).

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