Photo courtesy Canadian Drag Racing Hall of Fame

Canadian Drag Racing Hall of Fame welcomes Class of 2016 inductees

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Hockey may be Canada’s favorite sport, but drag racing isn’t far behind in terms of popularity and interest.

Saturday night in Montreal, 23 drag racing luminaries from north of the border were inducted into the Canadian Drag Racing Hall of Fame in its second annual gala.

“It’s a privilege to witness the Class of 2015 welcome this year’s inductees,” says John Scotti, Founder of the Canadian Drag Racing Hall of Fame. “Seeing the positive reactions from members of the drag racing community at each annual induction, is truly a rewarding experience to be a part of.”

Inductees were enshrined for having been actively engaged in the top level of their respective drag racing categories for at least 25 years.

Categories for which they were inducted included racers, crew chiefs, engine and chassis builders, mechanics, track officials, track photographers, announcers, promoters and sponsors “who have made a lasting impact and significant difference in the development of the sport of drag racing in Canada and elsewhere,” according to a media release.

Among those inducted were former NHRA team public relations representative and International Hot Rod Association Media Relations Director Rob Evans, as well as Jeff Arend, who won several races in his career, including the 1996 NHRA event at Maple Grove Raceway.

Others inducted included former world champion Gianni Cantusci, who follows his father Frank Cantusci, who was inducted in last year’s inaugural Hall of Fame class.

“With each new induction, the Canadian Drag Racing Hall of Fame Museum is expanding with new artefacts and memorabilia thanks to each inductee and the drag racing community,” said Hall director Bob Aubertin. “Not only are we recognizing some of our nation’s drag racing greats, it also shows today’s generation just how far the sport has really grown.”

The Hall is located in Montreal.

Here’s a list of Saturday’s inductees:

Ken Achs, Saskatoon, SK; Jeff Arend, Thornhill, ON; Bob Beazer, Odessa, ON; Vic Beleny, Welland, ON; Gianni Cantusci, Ottawa, ON; Guy Desjardins, Montreal, QC; Bob Elliott, London, ON; Rob Evans, London, ON; Geoff Goodwin, Prince Albert, SK; Charlie Haviland, London, ON;

Also, Vince Hazel, Windsor, ON; Ron Hodgson, St. Albert, AB; Richard Jones, Ottawa, ON; Bill Kydd, London, ON; Wayne Lang, London, ON; Abe Loewen, Regina, SK; Brian Mulligan, Cornwall, ON; Norm Noddle, Wasaga Beach, ON; Harold Parfett, Edmonton, AB; Venice Perno, Stoney Creek, ON; Rob Potter, Dundas, ON; Bert Straus, Kitchener, ON; John Waldie, Embro, ON.

2016-canadian-drag-racing-hall-of-fame-class
Here’s the 2016 Class of the Canadian Drag Racing Hall of Fame: 1st Row – From left to right: Richard Jones, Brian Mulligan, Ken Achs, Guy Desjardins, Vince Hazel, Rob Evans, John Scotti – Founder of the Canadian Drag Racing Hall of Fame – Gianni Cantusci, Jeff Arend, Rob Potter, Vic Beleny, Wayne Lang. 2nd Row – From left to right: Harolf Parfett, Ron Hodgson, Geoff Goodwin, John Waldie, Norm Noddle, Bill Kydd, Bob Elliott, Venice Perno, Charlie Haviland, Bert Straus, Abe Loewen and Bob Beazer.

 

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Sebastien Ogier in driver’s seat for sixth straight World Rally Championship title

Sebastien Ogier leads the way in the WRC title chase. Photo: Getty Images
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COFFS HARBOUR, Australia (AP) — Thierry Neuville finished the sixth stage of Rally Australia on Friday without a rear left tire, damaging his chances of catching five-time defending champion Sebastien Ogier for the World Rally Championship title.

The Belgian driver entered the rally just three points behind Ogier in the closest title fight in 15 years.

He held the upper hand on his French rival, building a near-10 second gap through the first five stages at Coffs Harbour before hitting a chicane and finishing the stage with only three tires on his Hyundai.

Neuville was fortunate the puncture occurred late enough in the day to finish all six forestry stages and avoid a retirement. But the mistake cost him 40 seconds and gave Ogier, who is 33 seconds ahead of him, a clear run at his sixth straight championship.

In his last start with Ford before a move to Citroen next year, Ogier struggled as the first to drive the dusty, slippery forest routes.

“I pushed like crazy, I was on the limit over the jump and everywhere, I can’t do (any) more,” Ogier said. “I was on the limit.”

With Ogier on sweeping duties the back markers flourished, and Mads Ostberg took the lead in his return to the series.

Ostberg was forced to miss the previous round in Spain to make way for rally winner and nine-time world champion Sebastien Loeb, who was making the last of his three guest appearances for Citroen.

Now back in the seat, Ostberg leads Jari-Matti Latvala by 6.8 seconds in the Australian rally, with sixth-stage winner Craig Breen in third.

Ogier was seventh, 38.2 seconds off the pace, but only needs to finish ahead of Neuville to claim the championship title. Neuville is in 10th place after six stages.

Roles will reverse on Saturday, with Ogier to start further back in the field and do his best on cleaner roads to make up the day-one deficit before Sunday’s final stages.

Andreas Mikkelsen, the 2016 Rally Australia champion, was an early dropout after rolling into a ditch in his Hyundai. Mikkelsen had only just avoided a tractor that had found its way onto the course.

Former winner Molly Taylor and co-driver Malcolm Read were also forced out of their event when their Subaru hit a hay bale at high speed on the morning’s second stage. Both reported soreness but suffered no serious injuries.

The 24-stage rally totals 319 kilometers (197 miles). Ten stages are scheduled Saturday with the final six on Sunday, most of them through forests on the New South Wales state’s north coast about 530 kilometers (325 miles) north of Sydney.