Contact: Terry Epp|
Tel:, (905) 640-6444
Tel: (613) 231-3248
|Date: July 4, 2001|
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NEW RICHMOND, QUEBEC. - Canadian rally driving champion Tom McGeer heads to the Gaspe Peninsula in eastern Quebec this weekend for the Rallye Baie-des-Chaleurs, hoping that recent history will repeat itself.
It was at the Baie-des-Chaleurs in 1992 that McGeer took his first-ever national win. And it was here a year ago that he began a remarkable winning streak, with seven victories in the past eight events in the Subaru Canadian Rally Championship, presented by Yokohama.
Driving a factory-backed Subaru Impreza WRX, with Mark Williams as navigator, he won all the remaining rallies of 2000, taking his fourth championship title, plus three of the first four events this year.
The 41-year-old from Georgetown, Ont., returns to the Gaspe for round 5 of the 2001 series with a commanding championship lead. He has 60 points, vs. 37 for second-placed Sylvain Erickson, of Gatineau, Que. A win is worth 20.
Erickson - the only other winner this year, on the Rallye Perce-Neige Maniwaki in February - may be an even more serious threat than usual this weekend as he has switched cars. He has abandoned his usual Mitsubishi Lancer and will make his first appearance in a much more powerful Mazda 323 GTR.
A total of 45 cars are entered. Most of the teams - 32 of them - are from Quebec, but others come from across Canada, the U.S. and even Europe. Belgian driver Dominique Julien will pilot the Lancer previously driven by Erickson.
Other expected frontrunners include factory Subaru drivers Pat Richard, of Vancouver, and John Paynter, of East Sackville, N.S., and Mitsubishi Lancer driver Jean-Sebastien Besner, of Montreal.
A lot of eyes will also be on Jon Nichols, of Lachine, Que. The four-time champion of the Group 2 class, for modified two-wheel-drive cars, will be making his debut in a four-wheel drive car - the Subaru Impreza that carried Sylvain Vincent to the runner-up spot in last year's championship.
This will be the 24th edition of the Baie-des-Chaleurs, one of the most popular rallies in the country, with as many as 3,000 spectators in places.
The event begins on Friday evening (July 6). Competitors will leave New Richmond, on the southern coast of the Gaspe Peninsula, at 5.45 p.m. to head to Camp Melancon for the first of the evening's six special stages - the competitive portions of the rally on roads temporarily closed to the public.
The rally will resume at 10 a.m. on Saturday, when a further nine stages will be run. Teams should return to New Richmond at about 7 p.m. The 15 special stages, mostly on gravel roads through forests in the area, total 192.8 kms.