|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
Date: May 28, 2000
|Contact: Dave Sharp|
Calgary, Alberta - John Buffum earned a place in the Canadian rally driving record book as he took an unprecedented 41st career win in the Rocky Mountain Rally on Saturday. Buffum finished exactly two minutes ahead of Jean-Marc Alcaraz, of St-Lambert-de-Levis, Que., while Sylvain Vincent, of La Plaine, Que., was third to take over the overall points lead in the Subaru Canadian Rally Championship, presented by Yokohama.
Buffum, a 55-year-old from Vermont, is an 11-time U.S. rally champion, who has been semi-retired for a decade, but he still likes to run a couple of events each year, usually in Canada. He was a late entry in the Rocky Mountain, run out of Calgary. He drove the Subaru Impreza WRX normally piloted by Georgetown, Ont.'s Tom McGeer, who chose to stay home with wife Trish and their newly-born second child, who arrived earlier in the week. "It's cool," said Buffum, of his new Canadian record. His 41st victory surpasses the 40 wins of Langley, B.C.'s Taisto Heinonen, a five-time Canadian champion in the 1970s and 1980s.
Buffum led from the start. His main rival, six-time Canadian champion Frank Sprongl, had motor problems on his Audi and pulled out after the first stage. "It's disappointing," said Buffum, "I'd like to have seen how we would've done against each other." Buffum set the fastest time on 10 of the 14 special stages, the competitive portions of the rally held on roads temporarily closed to the public. He completed 177 kms. of stages in one hour, 45 minutes, 29 seconds for an average speed of 100.68 kph. The rally began with a pair of "spectator stages" at a motorcycle park in Calgary, but took place mostly on gravel roads in the foothills of the Rockies west of the city. The roads were all new to Buffum, who has not contested this event since the mid-1980s.
Alcaraz was second fastest to Buffum on most of the early stages in his Mazda 323 GTR, but soon realized he could not match the American veteran's pace and eased off slightly. "John is too fast," said Alcaraz, whose second-place finish still represented the best result of his career. "I tried in some stages to stay with him, but I had to push so hard, it was too dangerous. So then I just tried to stay in second position."
Vincent, celebrating his 35th birthday, gave himself a great present as he moved into the overall championship lead at the mid-way point of the season. While Sprongl and the absent McGeer picked up no points, Vincent took third place for the fourth time in as many rallies this year. Just four points now separate the top three overall, as Vincent has 54, Sprongl 52 and McGeer 50. "It was important to finish well to close the gap," said Vincent. "Third place is good points and it makes it interesting for the championship." Vincent knocked out the alignment of his front suspension on the bumps of the first two spectator stages and he said that slowed him throughout the day. But once he got the suspension realigned, he set the fastest time on three of the final four stages.
Barry Latreille, of Williamston, Ont., finished fourth in an Eagle Talon. Another Talon, driven by Brian Scott, from Michigan, was fifth overall and took top Production class honors. For most of the rally, Scott was involved in a tight battle for first place in Production with Vancouver's Patrick Richard, in a Subaru Impreza. Richard was ahead by a few seconds when he rolled his car on the second-last stage, the only significant incident of the day. He got going again, but lost about 20 minutes.
RESULTS of the ROCKY MOUNTAIN RALLY, Round 4 of the Subaru Canadian Rally Championship, presented by Yokohama (driver, navigator, hometowns, car, time and winner's speed):
1. John Buffum / Mark Williams, U.S., Subaru Impreza, 1h45m29s (100.68 kph)
2. Jean-Marc Alcaraz, St-Lambert-de-Levis, Que. / Shirley Normandin, Laval, Que., Mazda 323, 1h47m29s
3. Sylvain Vincent / Dominique Cyr, La Plaine, Que., Subaru Impreza, 1h48m09s
4. Barry Latreille / Sandra Latreille, Williamston, Ont., Eagle Talon, 1h49m43s
5. Brian Scott / David Watts, U.S., Eagle Talon, 1h56m22s
6. Janusz Komorowski / Tomasz Karzynski, Calgary, Alta., Mazda 323, 1h58m00s
7. Marc Racine, Rawdon, Que. / Luc Piche, Boisbriand, Que., Subaru Legacy, 1h59m02s
8. Gord Olsen / Kathy Olsen, Brooks, Alta., VW Golf, 2h01m56s
9. Eric Tremblay, Sillery, Que. / Bill Westhead, Vancouver, B.C., Subaru Impreza, 2h03m20s
10. Scott Trinder / Asad Sjuleiman, Vancouver, B.C., Toyota Celica, 2h05m53s
OVERALL CHAMPIONSHIP POSITIONS:
1. Vincent 54 points
2. Frank Sprongl 52
3. Tom McGeer 50
4. Alcaraz 32
5. Latreille 28
For more information:
Terry Epp, (905) 640-6444
David Hatter, (613) 231-3248