Press Release

September 28, 2009
  Contact: Terry Epp
National Series Manager
Canadian Association of RallySport
Tel: 905-640-6444

Top Teams in Chase for Championship Title at Pacific Forest Rally

MERRITT, BC — Teams competing in the Canadian Rally Championship, presented by Subaru and supported by Yokohama Tire, will be heading west to Merritt, British Columbia for the fifth event in its six round series. For some, it could be the last chance to mount a challenge for the championship title.

Antoine L’Estage and Nathalie Richard, from Ste-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec are currently leading the points standings. L’Estage has been dominant at Pacific Forest Rally in the past, winning the event three of the last four years. “We’re in an interesting spot in the points standings because we don’t have to win here to keep the lead,” says L’Estage. “We will see how close we are, and if we can fight for the win we will do that for sure. I prefer trying to go flat out, but I have to keep the championship in mind.”

Reigning Canadian Rally Champions, Pat Richard and co-driver Alan Ockwell are keen for a strong result after a mechanical problem at the previous event moved them to second place overall.

“We had a freak incident with a rock that destroyed the transmission at Rallye Defi,” said Richard. “As far as the championship goes, we’ve been in this position before in 2005 against Stig Blomqvist in the Rally America series. I just need to stay ahead and get a little luck, and we’re right back in it.”

Simon Losier and Francois Morin are aiming to move up the leaderboard with a solid finish at PFR. Losier’s closest competitors, Andrew Comrie-Picard and Craig Henderson, will miss the event, giving an opportunity to earn valuable points. They are currently tied for fourth with Comrie-Picard, and trail Henderson by nine points.

In Production GT, western regulars Colin Armstrong and Keith Morison will be fighting against Hardy Schmidtke and Adam Vokes for the class win.

Two-wheel drive is a popular class in the Canadian Rally Championship, and a number of contenders will be fighting for top honours.

Eric Grochowski and Leanne Junnila of Calgary are out to secure the overall two-wheel drive title in their VW Golf, but it will be a close battle with Jan and Jody Zedril in their Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart. However, both teams will have their eyes on series veterans Gord and Kathy Olsen. After a few years in the all wheel drive Open class, Olsen has decided to return to his championship-winning Group 2 VW Golf for this event.

Known for changeable weather and fast, technical roads, the Pacific Forest Rally is also presenting the Eco Challenge - an optional contest awarding honours to the team that goes the fastest using the least amount of fuel. This is the only event in the Canadian Rally Championship to offer such a challenge.

The event, held from October 1-3, 2009, includes more than 150 kilometers of competitive stages run near the town of Merritt, BC. Falling late in the year, sunlight is at a premium at this event, and teams who are comfortable driving in the dark will have a strong advantage.

Rally car racing is often described as “real cars, real roads, real fast.” The all-season motorsport sees drivers and their co-drivers take modified road cars to the limit as they achieve blistering speeds over closed-road courses that typically cover more than 150 kilometres of gravel, dirt or snow-covered roads. Fans can get up close to the cars in the service areas and catch all the action from specially designated spectator points located at the best spots on the route.

The Canadian Rally Championship is comprised of six events held nationwide in a season that extends from February to November. The series is presented by Subaru Canada, supported by Yokohama Tire Canada and features contingency programs from Subaru Canada and Mitsubishi Canada. The Canadian Association of Rallysport (CARS) is the official sanctioning body for rallying in Canada.

Full coverage of the championship will air on RDS and TSN. Check local listings.

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