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Maine based performance rally team Last Ditch Racing has completed the 2004 season with a point scoring run at the Rally of the Tall Pines in Bancroft, Ontario.

The team completed the 2004 Canadian Championship in second place in both Open Class driver and co-driver categories, behind Canadian Champions Patrick and Nathalie Richard. The team stands 7th overall in the Canadian Championship among all drivers.

"To say that we're pleased is an understatement," said driver/owner John Cassidy. "The crew and the team set a goal of being a top 10 team in the Canadian Championship this year. We were able to do that by being consistent and finishing in the points. To be second in the Open Class is a monumental achievement for our grassroots team. We couldn't be happier."

Although Tall Pines saw many of the front runners retire, the LDR crew were able to put in what Cassidy is calling the drive of their career to date, finishing 9th overall and third in the Open Class for the event.

The drama for the team started before they arrived in Bancroft. "We had an issue with the engine that required replacement of the pistons. We had to source pistons, head gaskets, head studs and have them all next-day air expressed from around the country. We had never done any engine work before and were just able to get the engine back in the car and arrive in Bancroft in the early morning hours of Friday." The team spent all day putting road miles on the engine while Team Manager Eric Wages tuned the ECU.

It didn't take long for the team to find trouble after the event started. At the beginning of stage A-2, they found a rock after a crest. They broke the left front wheel in two on the rock and sheared third gear from their new transmission at the same time. Said Cassidy, "We suffered a large impact on the left front corner of the car-an impact to the same corner of the car resulted in our retirement from Tall Pines in 2003. We thought our race was over at that point-I was sure we'd broken a major suspension component. I removed the lug nuts from the wheel, and half the wheel fell out of the wheel well!" After a quick evaluation, Getchell and Cassidy found that other than the wheel and a bent control arm, all was well. They put the spare tire on and headed down the stage.

The team took a penalty at the next control in order to hammer sheet metal away from the tire and took a further penalty to effect repairs to the suspension at the following service. Loss of third gear, time penalties and increasing illness of co-driver Dave Getchell all had the team concerned they may not survive the day.

"Dave and I were unsure if the gearbox would last the day. We had 10 stages to run, and we knew there was a significant risk of more damage to the box." Cassidy was amazed at the rough conditions of some of the stages. "Being from Maine, Dave and I thought we knew rough roads-obviously Ontario has its' share!"

Cassidy credits the team's finish to Getchell's perseverence. "Dave was as ill as I've seen anyone. I asked him if he wanted me to stop, and he told me to continue on with my right foot firmly planted. We'd enter rough sections and I'd warn him that it was going to get rough-I'd hear his groans and want to finish quickly just to give him some peace. It was a harrowing day and the whole team was happy to the final time control of the event."

Last Ditch Racing would like extend thanks to their 2004 sponsors for their support throughout the season:

The teams' next event will be the Rallye Perce-Neige Maniwaki Feb 4-6 in Quebec.

For more information on Last Ditch Racing, please visit:
For more information on The Rally of The Tall Pines, please visit:
For more information on the Rallye Perce-Neige Maniwaki, please visit:

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