BIA Motorsports at the Lanark Highlands Forest Rally
by Mathieu Ayotte, driver and owner of BIA Motorsports
On a cold, snowy May morning — that’s right, snow in May! — Brothers in Arms (BIA) Motorsports got ready to compete in the 2017 Lanark Highlands Forest Rally (LHFR). The rally is part of the Ontario Performance Rally Championship six-event series run by RallySport Ontario. LHFR tested its competitors with about 125 km of stage roads and 70 km of transit.
The roads were wet and wetter, as many fording sites had to be crossed with water obstacles of 7-12 inches deep and almost 50 feet wide. We had to drop down to first gear a lot to stop ingesting water. Keeping a smooth but consistent pace, Driver Mathieu Ayotte and Co-Driver Tom McCabe took the little red car and just keep pushing it along.
The event added two new roads, the first one being California Road. It was tight, and loose gravel kept us on the cautious side. This is where we ingested water in the engine. Once the four California stages were complete, we had put a lot of water in the engine oil, broken a hydraulic hand brake, and had clogged the air filter with so much grit and mud we had to disconnect the MAF to keep the engine running!
At Service, our service team, comprising primarily Canadian Armed Forces veterans and volunteers, were able to get us back up and running. We even had a wonderful new upgrade of a 4L jug converted to a splash guard to keep water out of the air filter.
In the afternoon, we ran six stages on the Umpherson’s–Lavant Mill–Ranger Camp roads complex. Ranger Camp Road, which connects the two existing stage roads, is also new this year. We kept increasing our pace as our confidence in the car increased. We had finally fixed our windows from fogging up by keeping the heat at max. Every time we crossed a water hazard, we’d get a blast of steam come off the exhaust and fog up the windows. It was like driving a tank using the periscopes!
By the end of the last stage, we had blown the seals on the oil pressure sender and were leaking oil; the back axle shafts were bent to extreme levels; and the power steering had loosened off and was starting to fail. We pulled into Rally HQ at Tatlock Hall limping a small red car and hoping not to lose a wheel on the way.
Final results: We placed 4th in 2WD grouping and 2nd in 2WD Open class. For a driver with his first finish in three rallies and a co-driver on his second rally, we are more than pleased with the results! Next up is road racing the Little Red Tank — but first, some fixes.
Thanks to Street &Track Creative for the clothing. We look pro in our hats and shirts. Keep them in mind for your next team clothing needs. Eurotek Motors of Almonte provided us with a last-minute starter after the solenoid on ours failed Saturday evening before the race. And to Military Minds Inc. for keeping the message of Breaking the Silence and raising awareness of PTSD and Operational Stress Injuries. With a good band of brothers, you can accomplish anything!
If you are a veteran and would like to join our team, we are always looking to expand. Any driving discipline is welcome. Please contact Mathieu at BIAMotorsports@gmail.com or https://www.facebook.com/BIA.Motorsports/