FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 18, 2003
For more information,
Contact: Tim Gage
Phone: 604 505 5960
Rocket Rally Racing
Ajaccio, Corsica -- Canadian rally champion and North American Group N champion Patrick Richard was forced to retire from the Rallye de France today. Patrick and the Subaru Rally Team Canada suffered the setback when their Impreza WRX STi had a mechanical failure towards the end of the ninth stage of the World Rally Championship event.
Patrick and Norwegian co-driver Ola Flöene began the event well with a trouble free run on the first six stages. By the end of the first day they were in ninth place in the production car class and were confident that they could steadily improve on their position over the next two days.
Day two started less favourably. The car left the service area with dry weather tires, however, a sudden downpour meant that Patrick was forced to drive stages seven and eight with minimum grip.
"We were four kilometres into the first stage of the day when it came pouring down. I've never driven in the rain on slick tires so I think our times suffered. It was quite hair-raising but we made it through without incident" said Patrick. "Everybody went out on different tires. Some teams went out on slicks, some on intermediate tires, some on full rain tires. It was a roll of the dice and some people were just lucky to make the right choice" he added.
The team was able to switch to wet weather tires at the end of stage eight and Patrick and Ola's fortunes briefly improved. Stage nine saw Patrick get to grips with the wet asphalt conditions and set some good intermediate times.
"Pat was driving very well on the last stage and had made a big improvement since the start of the rally" said Ola. "Our split times were great and we had a good feeling in the car. I felt we were well positioned to finish in the points and I was confident, given the level of caution Pat was driving at, that we would make it to the end of the event."
Suddenly, about 30 km into the 40 km stage, the car lost all drive. Patrick described the incident as follows: "I was just braking for a very slippery left hander over a bridge. It was very wet and there were puddles everywhere. I downshifted from fourth into third but when I tried to accelerate around the bridge there was no drive. We coasted to a stop and that was that. The spectators had to push us off the stage."
While the cause of the problem is not yet known, it appears that there was a critical failure in the connection between the engine and the gearbox, pointing towards a problem with the clutch or input shaft. The team is currently investigating the exact cause and the final analysis will be posted on Patrick Richard's web site in due course.
Patrick, who is the only North American to be competing in the WRC, summed up his feelings about the event: "We had good split times on stage nine before the car broke down. So from my perspective, I feel very strongly about our ability to compete. We made a lot of progress over the course of this rally and, if nothing else, it's been a big step forward in my asphalt driving."
For high resolution pictures of Patrick and the team in Corsica go to:
For further information about Patrick Richard and the event go to:
Press inquiries: Tim Gage
604 505 5960