FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 3, 2003
For more information,
Contact: Mike Hurst
Rocket Rally Racing
Quebec City, Quebec -- Reigning Canadian Rally Champion Pat Richard, of Vancouver, B.C., triumphed over a strong international field and emerged as the winner of the 10th edition of the the Rallye Internationale de Quebec. Richard led the event from the start, despite strong challenges from Briton David Higgins, and Canadian ice and snow expert Sylvain Erickson. After both suffered off road excusrsions and eventual retirement, Richard did not look back, winning the rally by more than three minutes over six-time U.S. champion Paul Choiniere, of Shelburne, Vermont. p Driving an Impreza WRX in Group N for Subaru Rally Team Canada, Richard and his co-driver, Sweden’s Mikael Johansson, emerged victorious among all of the 53 entries in the first event of the newly announced "FIA Rally Series North America". The overall win was more significant because the entries also included a number of manufacturer cars built to the North American "Open class" specifications from Hyundai, Subaru and Mitsubishi.
"This is probably the most satisfying win of my career," said Richard, who last month became the first Canadian driver to score a point in the modern World Rally Championship (WRC) after finishing 8th overall in the Production Cup at the Swedish Rally. "It was an extremely challenging event and we drove aggressively. I'm ecstatic about the win."
Current British Group N and SCCA ProRally Champion David Higgins fought a hard battle with Richard, and trailed the Canadian for the entire first leg of the event until the final stage on Saturday. Eking out a 9.5-second lead over Richard into Sunday, the battle ended almost before it began. Higgins got stuck in a snow bank on the first stage of the day at Mare du Sault and was forced to retire. The same fate prevented Sylvain Erickson, winner of the last Canadian event in Maniwaki (Perce-Neige), from scoring points this weekend, after crashing heavily into an ice wall during Saturday night’s special stage held in front of thousands of spectators at the Quebec Hippodrome.
"I was ready for a big fight today but it didn't happen, and I was sad to see both David and Sylvain go out because we were ready to keep cranking it up, if we had to," explained Richard. "After hearing that David was out, we were able to back off and focus on the finish."
Alberta native Andrew Comrie-Picard took third place behind the wheel of his Mitsubishi Lancer, finishing a mere three seconds behind Choiniere’s Hyundai Tiburon. Five-time Canadian champion Tom McGeer, of Georgetown, ON, came in fourth position in the second Subaru car, after transmission problems hindered his progress during stage 11.
While the Canadian Rally Championship won’t see any further action until May, when the circuit makes its way to Alberta for the Bighorn Rally, Pat Richard, Canada’s lone representative in WRC competition, will have a busy schedule ahead of him with events in Mexico (March 14-15) and New Zealand (April 10-13).
High resolution photos of the Rallye International de Québec are available at this website: http://www.torchiacom.com/rally/index.html.
For more information:
Rocket Rally Racing
(604) 619 1583