Contact: Terry Epp
Tel: (905) 640-6444
Tel: (514) 279-3290
|Date: July 6, 2002|
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
McGEER MAKES A WINNING COMEBACK ON THE GASPE PENINSULA
NEW RICHMOND, QUE. - Five-time Canadian rally driving champion Tom McGeer won the Rallye Yokohama Baie-des-Chaleurs on the Gaspe peninsula of eastern Quebec on Saturday, the first event in five months for a driver who describes himself as "semi-retired" this year.
"I had a blast, which is the ultimate goal this season," said the 42-year-old from Georgetown, Ont., who has cut back his schedule to just three or four events to spend more time with his young family. "It's more enjoyable when you don't have to worry about the championship. There's less pressure."
McGeer finished just over a minute ahead of his Subaru Canada team-mate, Pat Richard, of Vancouver, both driving Impreza WRXs. Richard's second-place finish returned him to the exclusive lead of the Subaru Canadian Rally Championship, presented by Yokohama, after five of nine rounds.
Richard had arrived at the Baie-des-Chaleurs tied on points with Sylvain Erickson, from Gatineau, Que. But Erickson went off the road and rolled his Mitsubishi Lancer on the very first stage of the rally on Friday evening.
With 65 points, Richard now has a 15-point gap to Erickson and a 17-point advantage over Andrew Comrie-Picard, who finished third - for the fourth straight event - in his Mitsubishi Lancer.
For McGeer, who last competed in Canada when he won the Rallye de Quebec in February, the Baie-des-Chaleurs on the southern coast of the Gaspe is his single most successful event. This was his fourth win here (out of total 16 career victories) and his third in a row.
He and navigator Mark Williams, from Maryland, completed 193.43 kilometres of special stages - the competitive, high-speed portions of the event on gravel roads temporarily closed to the public - in two hours, eight minutes, 28 seconds for a an average speed of 90.34 km/h.
McGeer, who described the road conditions as "tricky, muddy and slippery" due to persistent light rain, pulled out a lead of 40 seconds over Richard on the first leg on Friday evening. Richard said he had some early handling problems, stemming from the installation of a new differential in his car.
The gap remained steady through most of Saturday, as the two leaders traded fast stage times, until Richard eased up slightly at the end.
"Pat kept me honest today," said McGeer, whose car had a brake balance problem which caused the rear wheels to lock. "I was worried about pushing too hard."
Richard, who had fellow British Columbian Ian McCurdy as his navigator, was pleased to be back in front of the Canadian championship. "I think this could be the turning point of the series, now that I have a 15-point lead," he said.
Third-placed Comrie-Picard, who hails from Edmonton but now lives in New York, had a scare on the 10th stage (of 15) when he clipped a tree with the back of his car, knocking off the rear bumper. But there was no other major damage and he was able to continue, although he said he eased off slightly afterwards.
Comrie-Picard and his new Swedish-born navigator, Christian Edstrom, finished one-and-a-half minutes ahead of their Four Star Racing team-mates, Toronto's Peter Thomson and American navigator Rod Hendricksen, in an Impreza WRX.
Nova Scotia's John Paynter, in a third factory Subaru, was next up until he rolled his WRX at the very same corner that gave Comrie-Picard trouble. This gave fifth place to a locally-entered Toyota Celica driven by Patrick Cyr, of New Richmond, the town that served as rally headquarters.
Sylvain Vincent, of La Plaine, Que., was sixth, despite a down-on-power motor in his Impreza WRX, while Jean-Sebastien Besner, of Montreal, was seventh in a Mitsubishi Lancer, after losing time with a flat tire.
The top 10 was completed by Joel Levac, of Riviere Beaudette, Que., Julien Pilon, of Brownsburg, Que. - both in Impreza WRXs - and Martin Gauvin, of New Richmond, in a Toyota MR2.
The one overseas driver in the event, Dominique Julien of Belgium, had a short rally. The alternator failed on his Mazda 323 early on Friday evening.
Results of the RALLYE BAIE-DES-CHALEURS
Round 5 of the Subaru Canadian Rally Championship, presented by Yokohama
(Driver, Navigator, Car, Time)
1 Tom McGeer, Georgetown, Ont., Mark Williams, Maryland, Subaru Impreza WRX, 2h08m28s
2 Pat Richard, Vancouver, Ian McCurdy, Whistler, B.C., Subaru Impreza WRX, 2h09m29s
3 Andrew Comrie-Picard, Christian Edstrom, New York, Mitsubishi Lancer, 2h14m19s
4 Peter Thomson, Toronto, Rod Hendricksen, New Jersey, Subaru Impreza WRX, 2h15m48s
5 Patrick Cyr, New Richmond, Que., Robert Leblanc, St-Alphonse, Que., Toyota Celica GT4, 2h20m58s
6 Sylvain Vincent, Dominique Cyr, La Plaine, Que., Subaru Impreza WRX, 2h21m23s
7 Jean-Sebastien Besner, Jacques Besner, Montreal, Mitsubishi Lancer, 2h22m15s
8 Joel Levac, Riviere Beaudette, Que., Eric Bourbonnais, St-Clet, Que., Subaru Impreza WRX, 2h23m46s
9 Julien Pilon, Marie-Eve Pilon, Brownsburg, Que., Subaru Impreza WRX, 2h26m20s
10 Martin Gauvin, Dan Duchesneau, New Richmond, Que., Toyota MR2, 2h27m24s
CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS (after 5/9 rounds):
1 Richard 65 points
2 Sylvain Erickson, Gatineau, Que. 50
3 Comrie-Picard 48
4 McGeer 40
5 Besner & Thomson 31
For further information:
Canadian Association of Rallysport
Terry Epp (905) 640-6444
David Hatter (514) 279-3290