|Contact: John Morris
|Date: October 16, 2004|
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Merritt, BC - At this year’s Pacific Forest Rally here in Merritt BC, though Subarus finished top four, six-time champ, Tom McGeer found himself on a lower step of the podium. This year’s Subaru Rally Team Canada’s top performing driver, Pat Richard of Whistler BC, who has already locked up the 2004 CRC, won his home event, by 1 minute and 57 seconds. His nearest rival was Quebec driver Antoine L’Estage and McGeer was third.
The mountain rain that fell heavy the night before the event presented competitors with very slippery muddy roads. "The conditions were very challenging," reports Richard.
Antoine L’Estage had borrowed a car from Richard’s Rocket Racing Team - the very Subaru Impreza WRX that Pat used to win the US Rally Championship. L’Estage, who has had numerous mechanical problems all year, was pleased to have a trouble free run and demonstrate his immense talent as a driver.
Tom McGeer, in a brand new Subaru WRX STi, was back after missing the last two events. McGeer had destroyed his previous new car with a multiple rollover at the Rocky Mountain Rally. Despite two flat tires and some turbo boost problems, McGeer gained confidence with his new ride as the event progressed and secured the final podium spot 48 seconds behind L’Estage. "It’s great to be back! We learned a lot about the new car today, and look forward to the next event."
Pat Richard’s recent dramatic success has given rally a resurgence in British Columbia. Fellow BCer, Norm LeBlanc claimed the 4th overall spot and first in Production 4. LeBlanc even won a stage in the early going and threaten the front runners all day. LeBlanc is only running a partial season this year, concentrating on the West Coast Rally Championship. He’ll be a name to watch in future.
In Group 2, Gord Olsen from Alberta made some smart tire choices early on, electing to use a special Yokohama mud tire and took two wheel drive honours. Main rival, Jon Nichols went off the road on stage 7, breaking a strut and an early end to his day. However, their season long battle for the Group 2 championship will not be decided till the final event. Olsen has a slim 3-point lead over Nichols.
Suzuki Canada’s William Bacon took his third class victory in the P2 class. Other than driving 11km on a flat tire, his Suzuki Swift+ ran flawlessly. Fellow Suzuki driver and main competitor for the P2 class, Thierry Ménégoz hit a rock in stage 6, breaking an engine mount and the gearbox. This is another championship that won’t be decided till the final event - the Rally of the Tall Pines in Bancroft, Ontario.
Richard will be trying for a perfect season when he goes for the sixth victory out of six events at the Tall Pines. It won’t be easy - the Pines is the home event for both rally veterans Tom McGeer and Frank Sprongl, who each have 6 championship’s behind them and a combined 11 Tall Pines victories. The Rally of the Tall Pines takes place on November 20 in the unpredictable conditions of central Ontario.
The series is broadcast nationwide on Rogers Sportsnet and RDS in prime time. 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 holds the marketing rights for the Canadian Rally Championship.