Pat Richard storms to victory at 2009 Rallye Baie-des-Chaleurs
NEW RICHMOND, Quebec -- With a dominating win at the 2009 Rallye Baie-des-Chaleurs, Pat Richard (Squamish, B.C.) and Alan Ockwell (Toronto, Ont.) of Subaru Rally Team Canada leap into the lead of the Canadian Rally Championship presented by Subaru and supported by Yokohama.
Richard and Ockwell came into the event fresh from a win at the Rocky Mountain Rally in Calgary in May, and were tied for the championship lead. The team suffered multiple flat tires through the weekend, but still managed to set the fastest overall time.
"This is great for the championship, and it's also my third career win here," said Richard. "We had some troubles, but we were able to set competitive times."
A career-high second place went to the local team of Martin Gauvin and Daniel Duchesneau of New Richmond, Que., who consistently perform well at their home event.
"This event is very rough, and you have to drive clean and fast to do well," said Gauvin. "We pushed very hard and never hit anything that would cause a problem. This is also the best finish for a Gaspesie team, so we're very proud of that."
Third place went to Craig Henderson and Lyne Murphy, also of New Richmond. "We had some real problems over the last two stages with smoke coming into the cabin, and losing power steering," said Henderson. "We found the problem and pushed very hard on the last stage -- maybe 150% - and knew we had the podium."
Top contenders Ken Block (Encinitas, California) and Alex Gelsomino (Los Angeles) of Subaru Rally Team USA crashed out of the event late Friday. Championship contenders, Antoine L'Estage and Nathalie Richard of St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec suffered mechanical problems and dropped down the order, clawing back to fourth place at the finish for valuable points.
In the two wheel drive class, a tight battle formed between the Mitsubishi Lancer of Jan and Jody Zedril (Winnipeg, Man.) and the Suzuki Swift of Peter Kocandrle (Acton, Ont.) and Jimmy Brandt (Michigan, U.S.). The veteran Zedril brothers traded times with the rookie Kocandrle, and managed to keep a lead to the end for the class win. Alberta competitors, Hardy Schmidtke and Adam Vokes brought their Subaru WRX to a top ten overall finish and a class win in Production GT. "It was a great competition with Peter," said Jan Zedril. "We saw how much time we lost on the second last stage and knew we were going to have to really fight to keep the lead."
Rally organizer Marc-Andre Leblanc was excited about the quality of the event. "I'm very proud of the quality of the entry and of course the results for the local teams," said Leblanc. "I am also proud of the level of this event in Canada and in North America."
Rally car racing is often described simply 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 kilometers 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 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.
The series stays in Quebec for the next round of the championship, the Rallye Defi, in Ste-Agathe-des-Monts and Montpellier, Que., September 11-12, 2009.
Rallye Baie Des Chaleurs Final Results (full results at www.rallyebdc.com)