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Last weekend, October 2nd and 3rd in Merritt, BC, Mark Jennings-Bates and co-driver Jennifer Daly were able to drive a measured event to achieve their best finish in a national event and also finish the day 2nd in the Western Canadian event taking a well deserved podium for the 1st time in their new 2004 STi rally car.

The rally went well for the duo from the night stages on Friday evening with the team settling into the new car and the confident handling characteristics provided by their KSport gravel suspension which was put through it’s paces at the event.

Friday night proved to be fast in the dark which was a theme for the weekend, with Pat Richard, Subaru Team driver destroying the stage record on Helmer at night also on the Saturday.

Conditions for the weekend were variable with the recce portion of the event being completed in mud, snow, fog and rain and what looked to be a possible challenging event from a tire choice perspective turned into one of the fastest events with the closest racing held in Merritt for some time.

The service crew for the PBR Team provided expert assistance which kept the team in the hunt for a strong finish, however the last 150 kilometers of the event were run without any power steering which was challenging for the team. “Now I will stop whining at my strength and conditioning coach, Leanne Manlove at Pinnacle Elite Athlete, about all the strength work she is making me do,” said team driver Mark Jennings-Bates. “I really needed to work hard to keep the car on the road for the last two stages, but thankfully we did not drop much time and gained a place in the process. I guess the training is paying off!”

Jennifer Daly was kept busy at the weekend as the stages were fast and timing of the delivery of the pace notes can be a real challenge. “We certainly came out of the first stage with a good pace,” said Daly, adding “on Saturday we hit a jump and seemed to be in the air for several seconds, it was thrilling. Thank goodness our service crew is always there to check the car over after that kind of a stage. They were awesome again this weekend, and a huge part of our success.”

New to the team this weekend was Craig Ross, who was partnered by John Hall from Alberta. Pacific Forest Rally was Craig’s first event, and the objective was to finish which he did after setting some very competitive stage times. A puncture and necessary tire change set Craig’s time back a little, but clearly Craig has demonstrated that he will be a force to be reckoned with in the future.

The next event on the calendar for the teams will be the all new Big White winter rally, which is currently in the planning stages and tentatively booked for the weekend of December 6th and 7th at the Kelowna ski resort.

Photo by Kurt Schantz

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