Contact: Terry Epp
Tel: (905) 640-6444
Tel: (514) 279-3290
|Date: February 23, 2002|
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
RICHARD SCORES HIS FIRST NATIONAL RALLY WIN
MANIWAKI, QUE. - Pat Richard, widely-viewed as Canada's most promising up-and-coming rally driver, claimed his first overall victory in a national championship event on Saturday when he won the Rallye Perce-Neige Maniwaki in the Haute Gatineau region of Quebec, north of Ottawa.
The 28-year-old from Whistler, B.C., finished two minutes and 12 seconds ahead of second-placed Jean-Sebastien Besner. The win puts him into the lead of the Subaru Canadian Rally Championship, presented by Yokohama, after two rounds.
Driving a factory-backed Subaru Impreza WRX, Richard completed the 179.65 kms. of special stages - the competitive portions of the event on gravel forestry roads temporarily closed to the public - in 2 hours, 7 minutes, 59 seconds for an average speed of 84.22 kph.
"This feels great. It's wonderful," said Richard of his first overall win. He has had many wins in the production class before - he was Canadian and North American production champion in 2000 - and three overall runner-up finishes.
It was strategy as much as outright speed that carried him to victory. While most of his rivals chose to use ice tires throughout the rally, he opted for Yokohama snow tires, expecting them to be better on one particular stage which, at 44 kms., was almost twice as long as any of the others.
Early in the rally, while Richard bided his time, the lead was traded back and forth by Montreal-area drivers Besner and Jon Nichols and by local favorite - and last year's winner - Sylvain Erickson, of Gatineau.
"I was second-guessing myself all the time, while I was losing those seconds here and there," said Richard. But his tactics paid off and on that one long stage in the middle of the rally, he gained more than a minute on Besner.
Meanwhile, Nichols and Erickson both fell out of competition. Nichols rolled his Subaru Impreza WRX, coming over the crest of a hill, causing heavy damage to the car. Erickson's Mitsubishi Lancer suffered a broken halfshaft.
So Richard and his navigator Ian McCurdy, also of Whistler, found themselves with a commanding lead, which they extended during the evening's final stages.
In the overall championship chase, Richard now has 30 points, Besner has 27 and reigning titlist Tom McGeer (absent from this event) has 20.
"It's crazy," said Richard, when asked about his rapid rise to the top. He has been rallying only since 1999, yet has already caught the eye of Subaru's British-based world championship team which gave him a try-out last year.
Meanwhile, Besner's second-place finish in his Mitsubishi Lancer matched his best previous result. It was the 29-year-old Montrealer's sixth podium finish in the past seven national championship rallies, dating back to last May.
"It's good to be here [on the podium] again, but we almost expect it now. We want to win one of these," said Besner, whose father Jacques was navigating.
Third place went to rookie driver Andrew Comrie-Picard in another Mitsubishi Lancer. The 30-year-old Canadian, who recently moved from Montreal to New York City, surprised even himself with the result. "I'm shocked. It's my first ice rally and I thought we were justy tip-toeing along," he said.
Fourth was Antoine L'Estage, 28, of L'Acadie, Que., the top rookie of 2001. He also took top production class honors in his Eagle Talon.
Brian Scott, from Michigan, was challenging Besner for second place going into the final evening stages, but was more cautious in the icy conditions and fell to fifth place overall in his Mitsubishi Lancer.
Sixth place went to Jean-Paul Perusse, who also took the class win in Group 2 (for modified two-wheel-drive cars) in his VW Golf, despite some electrical problems towards the end. The 58-year-old veteran from Montreal was twice the overall winner of this event, back in 1975 and 1977.
Victory in the smaller-engined production classes went to Charles Hammer, of Dollard, Que., ninth overall in a VW Golf, and Stephane McNeil, of Prevost, Que., 18th overall in a Subaru Justy.
Results of the RALLYE PERCE-NEIGE MANIWAKI
Round 2 of the Subaru Canadian Rally Championship, presented by Yokohama
(Driver, Navigator, Car, Time)
1 Pat Richard, Ian McCurdy, Whistler, B.C., Subaru Impreza WRX, 2h07m59s (84.22 kph)
2 Jean-Sebastien Besner, Jacques Besner, Montreal, Mitsubishi Lancer, 2h10m11s
3 Andrew Comrie-Picard, New York, Dave Shindle, Washington D.C., Mitsubishi Lancer, 2h14m41s
4 Antoine L'Estage, L'Acadie, Que., Yanick Napert, St-Jean-de-Richelieu, Que., Eagle Talon, 2h15m30s
5 Brian Scott, Michigan, David Watts, Ohio, Mitsubishi Lancer, 2h15m34s
6 Jean-Paul Perusse, Montreal, Marcel-Paul Raymond, St-Laurent, Que., VW Golf, 2h16m36s
7 Seward Ogden, Casey Blust, Vermont, Mitsubishi Galant, 2h16m48s
8 Joel Levac, Riviere Beaudette, Que., Eric Bourbonnais, Montreal, Subaru Impreza WRX, 2h19m00s
9 Charles Hammer, Dollard, Que., Patrick Peloquin, Greenfield Park, Que., VW Golf, 2h20m06s
10 Nick Boucher, Pat Lavigne, Mirabel, Que., Subaru Legacy RS, 2h21m01s
For further information:
Canadian Association of Rallysport
Terry Epp (905) 640-6444
David Hatter (514) 279-3290