Baie Des Chaleurs: Series round three preview

Shootout of the year at the 2009 Rallye Baie-des-Chaleurs STOUFFVILLE, ON (CARS Media) - A close championship battle will be contested by a deep field at the 2009 Rallye Baie-Des-Chaleurs in New Richmond, Que., third round of the Canadian Rally...

Shootout of the year at the 2009 Rallye Baie-des-Chaleurs

STOUFFVILLE, ON (CARS Media) - A close championship battle will be contested by a deep field at the 2009 Rallye Baie-Des-Chaleurs in New Richmond, Que., third round of the Canadian Rally Championship presented by Subaru and supported by Yokohama. Just six points separate the top four teams, with a win earning 22 points. Every move up the order is critical for the teams vying for the title of 2009 Canadian Rally Champion.

Subaru Rally Team Canada's Pat Richard, of Squamish, BC, and co-driver Alan Ockwell share the championship lead and are defending 2008 Canadian Rally Champions.

"We really need to manage our speed at this event," says Richard, "The championship is so close that you can't really back off to save the car, but this event is rough and you need to be careful."

Antoine L'Estage and co-driver Nathalie Richard of St-Jean-sur-Richlieu, Que., share the lead with Richard and Ockwell. The pair won the opening round of the series in the debut of their Mitsubishi Evolution X, but suffered development problems at the Rocky Mountain Rally in May.

"Baie-Des-Chaleurs is going to be a really interesting rally for the fans and teams, with so much competition," said L'Estage. "I don't want to let Ken Block win again!"

Ken Block and Alex Gelsomino both hail from California, U.S., and will be the entry from the Subaru Rally Team USA. The pair won the rally in 2008, their first time at Baie.

"The atmosphere is something very close to what you see in a WRC or European championship event and that makes Baie quite unique in North American rally," said Gelsomino. "Those are truly world class roads, really enjoyable to drive but they don't give much of a chance if you make a mistake."

Canadian Andrew Comrie-Picard and co-driver Jen Horsey will be in their Mitsubishi Evolution X. Andrew is a close contender just four points behind the leaders in the Canadian Rally Championship.

"It's great to have such a hotly contested event," said Comrie-Picard. "The depth of the field will really enhance the pleasure of the event for teams and fans alike."

Sylvain Erickson of Gatineau, Que., will also be mixing it up at the front, and sits just six points back from the championship leaders. Erickson has teamed up with veteran co-driver Brian Maxwell of Port Hope, Ont., in an effort to find more speed.

"This will be the first time working with a co-driver who is really good with stage notes," said Erickson. "Brian has a lot of experience that should help me go even faster."

This year's entry nears 50 cars, and will be highlighted by Martin Gauvin and Daniel Duchesneau of New Richmond, Que., and Craig Henderson and Lyne Murphy also of New Richmond, Que. Both have earned podium finishes in the past and are viable threats on their hometown roads.

Nick and Kelly Mathew of Caledon, Ont., will aim for more valuable championship points after a third place finish at the Rocky Mountain Rally.

Jan and Jody Zedril are entered after a bad crash at the Rocky Mountain Rally in late May left their two wheel drive Mitsubishi Lancer in need of repairs. Currently second place in the Two Wheel Drive Championship, and their rivals not entered, the Zedrils have a great opportunity to move up in the standings.

"Work started on the car as soon as we got home from Rocky, and we're all set to go," said Jody Zedril.

The event, held June 26-27, 2009, includes 190 kilometers of competitive stages run near the town of New Richmond on the south shore of the Gaspe Peninsula.

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 kilometres 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 Tire 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.

Full coverage of the championship will air on RDS and TSN. Check local listings.

-credit: carsrally.ca

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Series Other rally
Drivers Alex Gelsomino , Sylvain Erickson , Antoine L'Estage , Pat Richard , Andrew Comrie-Picard , Nathalie Richard , Alan Ockwell , Ken Block , Jen Horsey , Brian Maxwell , Martin Gauvin , Daniel Duchesneau , Craig Henderson , Jody Zedril , Kelly Mathew