Contact: Terry Epp
Tel: (905) 640-6444
Tel: (514) 279-3290
|Date: September 4, 2002|
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
RICHARD OPTS FOR CANADA TO DEFEND POINTS LEAD
STE-AGATHE, QUE. - Pat Richard and Sylvain Erickson head to the Laurentian mountains north of Montreal this weekend to resume their battle for the 2002 Subaru Canadian Rally Championship, presented by Yokohama.
Richard leads the overall standings after five of nine rallies - but not by much. His advantage is just 15 points, 65-50, over Erickson.
At one stage, Richard had planned to skip this week's Defi Ste-Agathe/Duhamel to compete in an event in Europe, but he has decided that the championship battle in Canada is too tight and he is staying here to defend his lead.
The 28-year-old Vancouver driver is running a dual campaign this season - the Canadian championship in a factory-backed Subaru Impreza WRX, plus the British Peugeot 206 Super Cup.
Erickson, 39, of nearby Gatineau, Que., may have a slight edge this weekend in his Yokohama-backed Mitsubishi Lancer. He is familiar with some of the roads on the Defi, having competed in this rally before.
Richard has never driven this event, which is a new addition to the Canadian championship this year. It was previously a round of the provincial Coupe du Quebec only.
The rally begins on Friday evening (Sept. 6). Cars will be waved off from the the old station in Ste-Agathe-des-Monts at 4.30 p.m. The rally's first stages will be two circuits of the 6-km. circuit Mecaglisse, just north of Notre-Dame-de-la-Merci and about 45 kms. northeast of Ste-Agathe, at 6.15 and 8.30.
The rally resumes on Saturday with five special stages, ranging from 26 kms. to 34 kms., on roads temporarily closed to the public in the Duhamel region.
Directions to the day's stages, the first of which takes place at 10.20 a.m., will be available at the Duhamel community centre, which will serve as event headquarters. Cars are expected back at the centre for the conclusion of the rally at about 4.10 p.m.
A total of 60 cars are entered for the Defi Ste-Agathe/Duhamel - 37 in the national championship event and 23 in a shorter regional rally, which does not cover the full distance but counts as the final round of the Coupe du Quebec.
Although new to the Canadian championship, the Defi has a rich history. This region was home to Canada's last world championship rally, the Criterium du Quebec, in the late 1970s.
After the Criterium was dropped from the world series in 1979, the rally was revived as the Defi Ste-Agathe from 1982 to 1988 and again in 2000.
Sylvain Vincent won the 2000 edition in a privately-entered Subaru Impreza WRX. Jean-Sebastien Besner won last year in a Mitsubishi Lancer, narrowly beating Jon Nichols' Impreza WRX from the Subaru Lachute dealership. Nichols' second-place finished clinched the 2001 Coupe du Quebec.
Vincent, Besner and Nichols, all from the Montreal area, will be back again this year to challenge national pacesetters Richard and Erickson.
Richard has won twice so far in 2002 as he seeks his first overall national title (he has won the production class before). Erickson has won once. The other two rallies were won by five-time national champion Tom McGeer, who is running only a limited schedule this year and is not entered for the Defi.
For further information:
Canadian Association of Rallysport
Terry Epp (905) 640-6444
David Hatter (514) 279-3290