Contact: Terry Epp
Tel: (905) 640-6444
Tel: (514) 279-3290
|Date: May 26, 2002|
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
ERICKSON WINS IN THE ROCKIES TO GRAB SHARE OF POINT LEAD
CALGARY, ALTA. - Sylvain Erickson drove to comfortable win in the Rocky Mountain Rally in southwest Alberta on Saturday and moved into a first-place tie in the Canadian championship points standings.
The 39-year-old from Gatineau, Que., driving a Yokohama-sponsored Mitsubishi Lancer, finished this fourth event of the nine-rally series with a commanding lead of four minutes, 31 seconds over runner-up Peter Thomson, of Toronto, in a Subaru Impreza WRX.
This was the third win of Erickson's career, but the first since he triumphed on his home event, the Rallye Perce-Neige Maniwaki, in February, 2001. It gives him a total of 50 points in the Subaru Canadian Rally Championship, presented by Yokohama, matching the tally of Pat Richard.
"This is going to give me lots of energy for the rest of the season," said the winner. "Being equal in the championship, it's like back we're back at zero and starting over again."
Richard, coming off back-to-back wins in the previous two events, failed to score any points from the Rocky Mountain. He fell by the wayside with engine problems on his Subaru Impreza while running second to Erickson.
Erickson, with brother Philippe as his navigator, was in control for most of the event, although he had a scare on the first night of competition on Friday.
The Blackfoot Motorcycle Park in Calgary hosted the first two special stages, the competitive portions of the event held on roads temporarily closed to the public. Erickson's Mitsubishi landed awkwardly after jumping over a crest, punching a hole in the radiator. He was up until 1.30 a.m. fixing the damage.
Still, when action resumed early Saturday morning, in then Porcupine Hills about 170 kilometres southwest of Calgary, the tired, but feisty Erickson soon began to pull away from the rest of the 35-car field. By the lunch-break, he was just over a minute ahead of main rival Richard.
Richard, from Vancouver, said he drove conservatively because of the tricky road conditions - a slippery mix of mud plus snow and ice left by a mid-week storm. The gap between the leaders remained at about one minute until Richard's motor blew after the ninth of 13 stages.
"We were hoping to mount a challenge to Erickson," said Richard, winner of the Bighorn Rally, west of Edmonton, the previous Sunday. "We were on a high last weekend. But with every high there comes a low."
Following Richard's demise, Erickson cruised to victory. He was fastest on 10 of the 13 special stages, covering 162.55 kilometres. His total time was one hour, 31 minutes, 21 seconds for an average speed of 106.76 km/h.
Meanwhile, second-placed Thomson enjoyed his first-ever appearance on the podium. This was only his seventh rally since returning to the sport late last season after a 12-year absence. His best previous result was a fifth.
"I'm delighted. I've still got a lot of learning and growing to do. Every stage, I'm trying to improve and get better and smoother and faster," he said.
His Four Star Motorsports team-mate, Andrew Comrie-Picard, also a newcomer, finished third - for the third time in as many events - in his Mitsubishi Lancer. The Edmonton native, now resident in New York, ranks third overall in points, with 36, and comfortably leads the "novice" (or rookie) standings.
It was a close-fought battle for third. The position changed hands several times before Comrie-Picard, who had some brake problems at one point, claimed the spot ahead of Joel Levac, of Riviere Baudette, Que., in a Subaru Impreza.
Levac took top production class honors, while Gord Olsen, of Brooks, Alberta, driving a VW Golf, was fifth overall and winner of the Group 2 division for modified two-wheel-drive cars.
John Paynter, of Lower Sackville, N.S., was sixth in a Subaru Impreza and second in the top production class. The smaller-engined production class winners were Andrew Miller, of Waterloo, Ont., 11th overall in a VW Golf; Yavor Klostranec, of Newmarket, Ont., 14th in a Nissan Pulsar; and Martin Wilson, of Vancouver, 15th in a Subaru Justy.
Calgary's Janusz Komorowski, the two-time Western regional champion and the local favorite, had the turbocharger fail on his Eagle Talon after running in the top five early on.
Other notable retirements from the rally included Sylvain Vincent, of La Plaine, Que., whose Subaru Impreza suffered a broken fuel pump, and Bruno Laverdiere, of Laval, Que., who had an engine failure on his Eagle Talon.
Results of the ROCKY MOUNTAIN RALLY
Round 4 of the Subaru Canadian Rally Championship, presented by Yokohama
(Driver, Navigator, Car, Time)
1 Sylvain Erickson, Philippe Erickson, Gatineau, Que., Mitsubishi Lancer, 1h31m21s
2 Peter Thomson, Toronto, Rod Hendricksen, Clinton, N.J., Subaru Impreza WRX, 1h35m52
3 Andrew Comrie-Picard, Edmonton, Dave Shindle, Falls Church, Va., Mitsubishi Lancer, 1h38m09s
4 Joel Levac, Riviere Beaudette, Que., Eric Bourbonnais, St-Clet, Que., Subaru Impreza WRX, 1h39m39s
5 Gord Olsen, Kathy Olsen, Brooks, Alta., VW GTI, 1h40m40s
6 John Paynter, Lower Sackville, N.S., Clarke Paynter, Dartmouth, N.S., Subaru Impreza, 1h42m59s
7 Jeff Smith, Edmonton, Miles McEwing, Calgary, VW Beetle, 1h44m47s
8 Nick Boucher, Pat Lavigne, Mirabel, Que., Subaru Legacy, 1h45m44s
CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS (after 4/9 rounds)
1 Erickson & Pat Richard Vancouver 50 points
3 Comrie-Picard 36
4 Jean-Sebastien Besner, Montreal 27
5 Levac 25
6 Thomson 21
7 Tom McGeer, Georgetown, Ont. 20
8 Brian Scott, Detroit, Mich. 18
For further information:
Canadian Association of Rallysport
Terry Epp (905) 640-6444
David Hatter (514) 279-3290