Canadian Rally Championship up for grabs at Pacific Forest Rally
MERRITT, BC (Oct. 14, 2008) - The Canadian Rally Championship will be heading west to Merritt, British Columbia for the fifth event in its six round series. Teams from across the country will be attending in hopes of earning top honours on the mountain roads around Merritt.
Current championship leaders, Subaru Rally Team Canada's Pat Richard and co-driver Alan Ockwell have a healthy points lead in the series, and a solid result at the Pacific Forest Rally could secure the title for the team in their inaugural season.
"We've had a great season so far, especially with the development of the new car. This event is close to home for us, so we're hoping to win and lock up the championship here," says Richard, whose team is based at the driver's Rocket Rally shop in Squamish, British Columbia.
They'll face strong competition from rivals Antoine L'Estage and Nathalie Richard, from Saint -Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec. The two are defending Canadian Rally Champions who have suffered technical problems this year. L'Estage has been dominant at Pacific Forest Rally in the past, winning in 2005 and 2007, and finishing second in 2006.
"We've had a good history at this event, and we're of course hoping to continue that here. The car is in good shape and ready to go and so are we!" says L'Estage.
The entry list features a strong field of western teams including Norm LeBlanc of British Columbia and co-driver Keith Morrison of Alberta in their open class Subaru. The pair suffered a mechanical failure at the most recent national event and are keen to get back to the top of the standings in Merritt.
Warren Currie of Edmonton, Alberta will be on hand to contest the Production-four class in his Subaru Impreza WRX against fellow Albertan, Hardy Schmidtke, a newcomer who has shown considerable speed this year, scoring a podium finish at the Rocky Mountain Rally in May -- only his third event!
Two-wheel-drive entries are plentiful in this region, and the Pacific Forest Rally is no exception, with eight fast and experienced teams expected to attend.
Zebe Szewczyk and Tomasz Karzynski of Calgary, Alberta have been dominant in their Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart. Eric Grochowski and Leanne Junnila of Calgary are out to secure the Group Two class title in their VW Golf after a frustrating DNF at the most recent event.
The Pacific Forest Rally is known for its fast mountain roads. Added to the challenge of the event is the PIAA Eco Challenge -- an optional contest where the driver who goes the fastest using the least fuel takes the top honours. This is the only event in the Canadian Rally Championship to offer such a challenge.
The event, held from October 17-18, 2008, includes more than 150 kilometers of competitive stages run around the town of Merritt, BC. Falling so late in the year, sunlight is at a premium at this event, and teams who are comfortable driving in the dark will have a strong advantage.
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.