Contact: Louis Payette
Tel: (514) 288-8290
|Date: March 2, 2003|
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Quebec City, Canada - Reigning Canadian Rally Champion Pat Richard, of Whistler, B.C., took the lead following Sunday's first stage and did not look back, winning the 10th edition of the Rallye International de Québec by more than three minutes over six-time U.S. champion Paul Choiniere, of Shelburne, Vermont.
Driving an Impreza WRX for Subaru Rally Team Canada, Richard and his co-driver, Sweden's Mikael Johansson, emerged victorious among the 53 entries in the first event in the newly announced "FIA Rally Series North America", despite running a good portion of the last stage at Lac des Neiges with a flat tire.
"This is probably the most satisfying win of my career", said Richard, who last month became the first Canadian driver to score a point in the World Rally Championship (WRC) after finishing 8th overall in the Production Cup in the Swedish Rally. "It was an extremely challenging event and we drove very aggressively, although I was quite concerned about damage to the rear differential when running with the flat tire, but the car held together and I am just thrilled about this victory!"
Alberta native Andrew Comrie-Picard took third place behind the wheel of his Mitsubishi Lancer EVO, finishing a mere three seconds behind Choiniere's Hyundai Tiburon. San Francisco's Lauchlin O'Sullivan finished fourth for Team Mitsubishi USA. Five-time Canadian champion Tom McGeer, of Georgetown, ON, came in fifth in the second Subaru car, after transmission problems hindered his progress during stage 11.
Current British Rally Champion David Higgins, who held a 9.5-second lead heading into Sunday, got stuck in a snow bank in the first stage of the day at Mare du Sault and was forced to retire with transmission failure. The same fate prevented Sylvain Erickson, winner of last month's event in Maniwaki (Perce-Neige), from scoring points this weekend, after crashing heavily into an ice wall during Saturday night's special stage held in front of thousands of spectators at the Quebec Hippodrome.
After two events in the Canadian Rally Championship, Antoine L'Estage sits atop the drivers' standings with 21 points, while three drivers (Richard, Erickson and Jean-Paul Perusse) are tied for second with 20 points.
While the Canadian Rally Championship won't see any further action until May, when the circuit makes its way to Alberta for the Bighorn Rally, Pat Richard, Canada's lone representative in WRC competition, will have a busy schedule ahead of him with events in Mexico (March 14-15) and New Zealand (April 10-13).