|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
date: July 9, 2000
|Contact: Dave Sharp|
NEW RICHMOND, QUEBEC -- Tom McGeer, driving a Subaru Impreza, snatched victory from Sylvain Vincent in the final stages of the Rallye Baie-des-Chaleurs and took the overall lead in the national points standings.
Vincent, also in an Impreza, led through most of the two-day rally on the Gaspe peninsula in Eastern Quebec. He was 28 seconds ahead of McGeer with just two competitive stages to go.
But mechanical gremlins struck. First, a shock absorber broke on his car and then the universal joint failed. As Vincent slowed, McGeer moved ahead to win by one minute and five seconds.
"This has always been a good event for me," said McGeer, 40, of Georgetown, Ont., a three-time Canadian champion who took his first win on the Baie-des-Chaleurs in 1992. "We had no problems at all."
McGeer, paired with navigator Mark Williams, completed the special stages - the competitive portions of the rally on roads temporarily closed to the public - in 1 hour, 49 minutes and 41 seconds.
This was the sixth win of his career - his second this year - and puts him into the lead of the Subaru Canadian Rally Championship, presented by Yokohama, after five of eight rounds.
McGeer now has 70 points, Vincent has 66, while Frank Sprongl - who did not compete in this rally - is third with 52.
Vincent - a six-time Quebec champion, but still winless at the national level - was crushed by his loss. "It was a perfect rally for us until the end," said the 35-year-old from La Plaine, Que.
The final stages of the rally were also hard on Barry Latreille, of Williamston, Ont., who lost third place when the engine caught fire on his Eagle Talon. His demise gave the final spot on the podium to Keith Townsend, of Toronto, debuting a brand-new Mitsubishi Lancer.
"I'm still learning the car, so I didn't get 100 per cent out of it," said Townsend, who finished five minutes, 48 seconds behind the winner. He also had some problems with a faltering alternator.
Patrick Richard, of Vancouver, was fourth and the top finisher in the Production GT class, for the third time this year, in his Subaru Impreza. Yves Barbe, of Laval, Que., had a fuel pick-up problem on his Eagle Talon, but still finished fifth.
Richard moves up to fourth overall in the championship, tied on 28 points with Jean-Marc Alcaraz, who dropped out of this event early with a blown motor on his Mazda 323.
In the absence of six-time national champion Sprongl, whose car was not ready, Vincent started first on the road, often a big advantage at this rally because of lingering dust which make its hard for those behind to see, even when setting out at two-minute intervals.
Recent rain meant that the dust was not such a factor this year - "I appreciated starting first, but it wasn't an advantage," said Vincent - and there were a few further showers during the event.
RESULTS of the RALLYE BAIE-DES-CHALEURS, Round 5 of the Subaru Canadian Rally shampionship, presented by Yokohama (driver, navigator, car, time):
Terry Epp, (905) 640-6444
David Hatter, (613) 231-3248