FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 12, 2003
For more information,
Contact: Mike Hurst
Rocket Rally Racing
Hagfors, Sweden -- Pat Richard’s weekend debut in the FIA’s World Rally Championship "the first Canadian driver to compete at that level" produced a respectable ninth-place finish in the Group N Production Car division at the Rally of Sweden and brought accolades from his co-driver, Mikael Johansson.
"I was impressed by his determination," said Johansson, a native of Sweden, following completion of the rally on Sunday. "Many other drivers would have pulled out of this event. When he has some time to reflect on it, he'll understand that it is quite an accomplishment to just finish your first Swedish rally."
Richard, the Sherbrooke, Quebec-born and Vancouver-based driver for Subaru Rally Team Canada, finished in 42nd position overall at the WRC's second event of the season, but first for the Production class. Finland's Marcus Gronholm, in a Peugeot, won the snow rally, that covered almost 1,900 kilometres and 17 special stages, while Sweden's Kenneth Backlund won the Group N division in a Mitsubishi.
Richard had to cope with plenty of adversity, prior to and during the race. He and his regular co-driver, Martin Headland, were involved in a collision with a non-rally vehicle during their first practice run early in the week. Headland suffered bruises that sidelined him in favour of Johansson, while Richard soldiered on despite considerable pain, especially in his wrists.
This year's Swedish Rally was also tougher for the competitors because of more snow than recent years, causing the driving line to change markedly, which had an impact on the pace notes.
"It's an awesome event and driving on studs is wonderful," remarked Richard, the defending Canadian rally champion. "But it's also a specialist's event. I'm a bit disappointed that my true potential did not emerge, given the radical circumstances we had to face. To finish where we did is amazing and if we hadn't been caught behind the two slower cars on stage 3, we would have definitely been in the points. Seven of the eight guys who finished in front of us are former or current World, British, European, Asian and Australian champions, so I don't feel so bad !"
Richard was impressed by the performance of the Impreza WRX STi Road Rocket and the work of his crew. The only problem on the final day of the race was a balky transmission that the crew replaced in less than 18 minutes, costing Richard no penalties.
Meanwhile, on the Canadian rally championship front, Sylvain Erickson, driving his Mitsubishi Lancer EVO IV over a course that wended through areas where he was born and raised, won the Rallye Perce-Neige Maniwaki on Saturday, the first event of the nine-race Subaru Canadian Rally Championship season.
Erickson, a Maniwaki native who now resides in Gatineau and his co-driver, brother Philip, took the lead in the fifth stage of the rally, which covered a distance of some 225 kilometres of special stages, and were never threatened as they went on to cross the finish line in a time of two hours, 35.59 minutes. It was the Ericksons' second victory in three years at Perce –Neige Maniwaki, Canada's oldest winter car rally. The brother duo won in 2001 and ceded that honour to Pat Richard last season, the driver to whom they were the runner-up in the overall championship standings.
The next event in the Canadian championship is the Rallye International de Québec, in Quebec City, Feb. 26-March 2, a rally in which Pat Richard and the Subaru Rally Team Canada will be competing.
High resolution photos of Pat Richard at the WRC Swedish Rally are available at the following website: www.morisoncom.com/srtc/media.
High resolution photos from Rallye Perce-Neige-Maniwaki are available at http://www.torchiacom.com/rally
For more information:
Rocket Rally Racing
(604) 619 1583