|Contact: John Morris
|Date: May 30, 2004|
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Calgary, Alberta - Rally racingís own Rocket Richard sped to victory this weekend on a challenging course in the rolling foothills south of Calgary at the Rocky Mountain Rally presented by Makita.
The triumph extends Patrick Richardís stunning North American winning streak to five events.
"Weíve won every event we entered this year. Itís a fantastic position to be in," a jubilant Richard said at the finish.
Driving for Subaru Rally Team Canada in a Subaru WRX STi, Richard, of Whistler, B.C., finished a full two-minutes and 59 seconds ahead of second-place finisher Andrew Comrie-Picard, in his Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IV.
Antoine LíEstage, from St-Jean-Sur-Richelieu, Que., settled for a disappointing third-place finish after suffering mechanical trouble late in the race. He and Comrie-Picard, an Edmonton native who now lives in New York, had fought a close battle for second all day, but trouble with both the turbo and third gear in LíEstageís Hyundai Tiburon cost LíEstage crucial seconds.
"Second place should have been Antoine - or at least, we should have had a good battle, and it was shaping up," said Comrie-Picard of the close race.
Comrie-Picard secured the number two spot by 47 seconds over LíEstage, overtaking him in the later stages.
"I think we did well, we started very fast," said LíEstage. "But thatís rally; next time I will beat him."
The Rocky Mountain Rally presented by Makita marks just the fifth year of competition for Richard, who has already won the 2002 Canadian Rally Championship title. Observers say the relative newcomerís driving is showing a new-found maturity this year that will make him tough to beat.
The fast, dry conditions on the rolling, ranch-country course in the Porcupine Hills area of southern Alberta meant many of the rallyís 44 entrants - the largest competitive field in the eventís 31-year history - had trouble staying on the road.
Notably, Richardís Subaru teammate and multi-time champion Tom McGeer suffered a high-speed, multiple rollover during a tricky left-hand corner early in the race. He and co-driver Howard Davies were unharmed, but the brand-new competition vehicle was badly damaged, and it is not clear whether it can be salvaged in time for the next round of the championship on July 2, Rallye Baie des Chaleurs, in the Gaspe Peninsula.
The crash could spell the end of this seasonís much anticipated match-up between two six-time Canadian champions, McGeer and privateer Frank Sprongl, who withdrew from the western rally at the last minute, citing problems with his own car.
Richard bested Sprongl by 26 seconds at round one the Canadian championship, Rallye Perce-Neige Maniwaki in Quebec earlier this year.
Suzuki success: The other factory team in the Canadian Rally Championship race, Suzuki, had a successful debut for their two brand-new Suzuki Swift+ rally cars, earning first and second place finishes in the P-2 production class.
The series will be broadcast nationwide on Rogers Sportsnet and RDS this fall, 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.
The Rocky Mountain Rally is supported by Makita Canada, Northern Metalic Sales Calgary and Macs Convenience Stores.