|Contact: John Morris
|Date: September 13, 2004|
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Ste-Agathe/Duhamel, QC - There was never any doubt about it, but Subaru Rally Team Canada's Pat Richard has officially sealed his position as the best driver in North America after a decisive win this weekend at round four of the Canadian Rally Championship.
The Whistler, BC driver finished nearly nine minutes ahead of the second-place finisher Sylvain Érickson, securing the Canadian title. Even with two races remaining in the Canadian season, he's now too far ahead for anybody to catch.
The win also guarantees him the North American Rally Cup and a recent victory south of the border in Maine saw him lock up the US Pro Rally Championship as well.
The victory was bittersweet for Richard, who had been looking for a strong fight from Érickson, a competitor he openly admires. "It's great to win the Canadian championship and North American Championship, but also sad for Sylvain," said Richard. "It would have been good to battle to the end."
The leaders had been pushing hard, trading seconds back and forth for the lead until the final two stages when transmission problems with Érickson's Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IV cost him precious minutes. "The mechanics decided who was going to win in the end, and that's hard," said Érickson, a privateer from Gatineau, QC who has opted to run only a few races this season. With his brother Philipp in the co-driver's seat, Érickson drove to a second-place finish in the season opener.
Fans would like to see the aggressive driver make a serious run for the championship, but he says his hands are tied. "If anybody wants to give me a cheque for $50,000, I'll finish the rest. There is a problem with money we have no choice."
Third place went to Quebec brothers Réjean and Art Losier in their Mitsubishi Lancer Evo V. That they finished a full three minutes behind Érickson shows just how hard the leaders were pushing.
In fourth place was the father-son team of Robert and Frédéric Labrie, who have been putting in top ten finishes all season in their P-4 production class Subaru Impreza WRX.
Their win pushes Richard rival Andrew "ACP" Comrie-Picard out of the number two spot in the overall standings. Comrie-Picard withdrew from the race at the last minute over work commitments.
With two events remaining in the Canadian championship, Richard has 80 points, leading Labrie with 31. Tied for third place with 30 points each are Jon Nichols and Andrew ACP Comrie-Picard.
The other factory effort in the series, Team Suzuki Canada, continued their domination of the P-2 production class with Thierry Ménégoz chalking up another class win. However, teammate Bill Bacon suffered an electrical problem that put him out of the race.
The series will be broadcast nationwide on Rogers Sportsnet and RDS this fall. The TV schedule has been announced and fans can check www.CRC-Rally.com for more information.
The Canadian Rally Championship is presented by Subaru and sanctioned by the Canadian Association of Rallysport. Rally Development Group (RDG) holds the marketing rights for the Canadian Rally Championship.