|Contact: John Morris
|Date: July 5, 2004|
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
New Richmond, QC - Subaru Rally Team Canada's Pat Richard continued his winning streak this weekend, finishing 13 seconds ahead of rival Andrew Comrie-Picard for a win in the Canadian Rally Championship's wildly popular third round.
But it was a tough fight for the Whistler, B.C. driver. After pulling into a comfortable lead early in the Baie-des-Chaleurs Rally, Richard's Subaru WRX STi suffered a fuel pump problem. It cost him nearly five minutes at the side of the road and put him in second place overall, behind Comrie-Picard in his Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IV. "After we had the problem, I thought the rally was over, but I decided to give it our all anyway," said Richard. He, with his sister Nathalie in the co-driver's seat, pushed hard, clawing back the lost time and narrowly reclaiming the lead.
With everything to lose, both teams drove to their limits. Crowds of spectators thrilled at the sight of these top drivers launching over jumps and sliding hard through the notoriously tight and twisty roads of this Gaspé Peninsula course.
Edmonton-native Comrie-Picard said he was pleased with his second-place finish. "For us as privateers to be within a handful of seconds of the Subaru factory team is a pretty good result and we're happy," said Comrie-Picard, who, along with his co-driver Marc Goldfarb, also placed second behind Richard at the Rocky Mountain Rally in Calgary this May.
Third place overall went to top two-wheel drive competitor Jon Nichols of Lachine, Que., in his Group 2 Volkswagen Golf GTI. He said rain that fell on and off throughout the race gave him a better chance for a win against many more powerful cars in the field. "You have inconsistency. You can have the greatest grip in the world, then you come around a corner and slip right off," said Nichols, who is known for his skill in slippery conditions.
Team Suzuki Canada also put up a good effort with driver Bill Bacon and co-driver Peter Watt finishing top of the P-2 production class in their Suzuki Swift+. A rollover by Thierry Ménégoz and Élise Racette put the team's second Suzuki Swift+ out of the running.
It was a disappointing rally for Quebec fan favourite Antoine L'Estage, who was battling for a top finish before suffering mechanical trouble with his Hyundai Tiburon's turbo during the Friday night stages. Although his crew was able to repair the problem, a second failure on Saturday put the St-Jean-Sur-Richelieu, Que., native out of the race altogether.
At the halfway point in the Canadian championship, unofficial rankings show Richard with 60 points, leading Comrie-Picard, with 30. In third place with 22 points is Jon Nichols. He is followed closely by Frederic Labrie of Beauport, QC, with 21.
Despite Richard's imposing lead, the championship is still up for grabs. It is the best four events that count towards the final standings and there are still three remaining.
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.
To see what a car can do, watch it rally.