Taghum’s resident rally racer is getting a new ride after totalling his car during a race earlier this year.
Iannick Lemaire was competing with co-driver Brad Verbridge at Invermere’s Rocky Mountain Rally in late May. The pair were flying down a straight that ended with a fast right turn followed by a slower left.
Verbridge, whose job it is to tell the driver what to expect, accidentally said the first corner was a left, not a right. Lemaire made the first turn despite the miscommunication, but was out of position for the second turn and crashed his modified 1988 VW Golf into the side of a hill alongside the road.
Instruments in the car measured the impact at more than eight g-force — which is equivalent to the force of an Mercury-era space shuttle on re-entry through the atmosphere.
When Lemaire turned to Verbridge, he found his co-driver unconscious.
“That freaked me out a lot,” said Lemaire. “I thought, ‘OK, let’s just get out of here before this thing catches on fire.’ I couldn’t get him out, it was pretty stressful. I was worried about the car behind us, if it was going to smoke into us.”
Lemaire, who was uninjured, got out and ran to wave down the next car. By the time he’d gotten back Verbridge had come to and left the car, but was concussed.
Lemaire said other factors contributed to the crash.
The night before, a pressure plate was destroyed as the car was loaded into its trailer. Mechanics worked for the next seven hours to fix the car, and Lemaire didn’t get to leave for Invermere until midnight. On the way he hit a deer and a rabbit, and didn’t end up arriving at the event until six in the morning — just one hour before the race was scheduled to begin.
“There were deer all over the place. I actually managed to avoid at least five,” he said.
Lemaire has plenty of local sponsors helping him get on track. Babe’s Automotive, Zap Welding, Napa Autoparts and Ramp Autobody have each lent parts and labour to his car. After the crash, Organic Mechanix offered Lemaire a 1991 VW Golf that had been scheduled to be crushed.
“I don’t think I’ll keep the red but it’s a nice, clean body,” he said. “Original paint. It’s actually amazing on ice.”
He’s still unsure how long it will take to get the new car ready and may not return to racing until next year. Verbridge has recovered and plans to rejoin Lemaire, who now has plenty of work to do on his new wheels before he gets back on the track.
“It’s easier to fix the old one, but I would rather end up with a better car in the new one,” he said.
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