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Maine based performance rally team Last Ditch Racing overcame substantial adversity to bring home multiple awards at the Rallye Defi-St. Agathe/Duhamel in Quebec Canada this past weekend. The rally was round four of the Canadian Rally Championship.

Just starting the event was an achievement for the team. Their Open Class Subaru Impreza WRX was not running the day prior to the event. On the way to St. Agathe, the team delivered the car to LaChute Subaru Performance for diagnosis and repair. While LaChute worked on the car, the team participated in recce for the event, not knowing if they'd have a car to start the next day.

The hard work of the LaChute crew paid off as the car was done one our before the deadline for technical inspection. Driver/owner John Cassidy said, "The efforts of LaChute and the Last Ditch Racing crew were Herculean. We toiled over and worried about the car for quite some time. Dave and I ran recce as we normally would, checking in with LaChute mechanics when we had cell phone service. I really don't want to see my cellphone bill!"
Cassidy and co-driver Dave Getchell quickly adapted to the car's modifications and quickly moved up through the field from their starting position of fifteenth to seventh after the 33.83km Mulet stage on Saturday.

On the Duhamel 1 stage, the team lost third gear in the transmission, slowing them significantly. Said Cassidy, "It's the first time we've had transmission problems with the Subaru. The new torque from the car was obviously too much for the aging transmission to handle. We drove the remainder of the stage using only second and fourth gears. When we stopped at the time control and shifted to first, the transmission stuck there and we were forced to drive to the service area at very slow speed."

Stewart Ho, owner of CanJam Motorsports suggested the team drain the transmission fluid and fill it again, in an effort to remove metal fragments and hopefully regain a couple of gears. The team repeated the process three times, and were able to regain use of all gears except third.

The team set off for the last two stages with their broken transmission and guarded expectations of finishing the event. "On the way to the fourth stage, Dave asked me what my plan was," said Cassidy. "I told him that we'd come to race, and that's what we were going to do." Although the team lost time without third gear on Lac Gagnon 2, the final stage saw the team take 5th position on the stage, only 6 seconds slower than their first pass through the stage.

"We were in loss minimization mode," said Cassidy. "Dave told me we needed to run our own race and keep our minds focused inside the car and not think about what was going on elsewhere in the race. During the race, I always listen to my co-driver!"

The team's persistence paid off. When the dust settled, they were classed as sixth overall and third in the Open Class in the championship portion of the event, behind Canadian Champion Pat Richard and perennial favorite Sylvain Erickson. The team won awards for being the top placed American team. The team was second in the Ontario Provincial Rally Championship(OPRC) portion of the event and first in the Open Class in the OPRC. Cassidy was also the top finishing seed 4 driver.

Cassidy summed up the event, "The whole team has been waiting a long time to spray champagne on each other, and this was a very sweet and surreal ending to a difficult rally for us. We couldn't have done it without the support of the LDR crew, the LaChute team and the help of Stewart Ho from CanJam motorsports. We'll pick up the pieces and see everyone at the next round of the championship!"

The team's next rally is the Rally of The Tall Pines in Bancroft Ontario, November 19-20.

The team would like to thank their 2004 team partners for their support:

For more information on Last Ditch Racing, please visit
For more information on the Rallye Defi-Ste-Agathe/Duhamel, please visit
For more information on The Rally of The Tall Pines, please visit:

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