Pat Richard secures Canadian Rally Championship at Pacific Forest Rally
MERRITT, BC (CARS Media) -- Hyundai's Antoine L'Estage and co-driver Nathalie Richard earned their second win of the season at the Pacific Forest Rally, while Subaru Rally Team Canada has secured the championship title.
"We're very happy to have won, and this puts us in a good spot for the North American Rally Cup," said L'Estage. "We had some problems at this event, but thanks to our crew and sponsors, we were able to win again here."
L'Estage and Richard, the defending champions, have suffered from reliability problems this year in their Hyundai Tiburon, preventing this normally dominant team from enjoying the success they have had in the past.
After overcoming their own challenges this weekend, Subaru Rally Team Canada's Pat Richard and co-driver Alan Ockwell charged back from last to finish in third-place overall in their new Subaru WRX STi. The result makes it mathematically impossible for any other team to catch them for the series title at the final round next month.
"I'm really happy to have won the Canadian Rally Championship. I have been away from the Canadian scene since 2004 and so to come back and win the title is just awesome!" said Richard.
This year marks the return of Subaru Rally Team Canada, after the factory effort went on hiatus in 2004.
Second place went to Gord Olsen and Todd Patola of Alberta in their Subaru WRX. The pair steered clear of the troubles many other teams experienced to tie their best career finish.
"We're happy with the result, and it means we're third in the championship now, which is a new thing for us, so that's great too," said Olsen.
Pacific Forest Rally is an event that features treacherous roads and often changing conditions and this year saw many teams suffer mechanical trouble.
L'Estage and Richard dropped out of the lead early in the contest after a failed differential looked like it would end their event. The duo's crew were able to make repairs and the team was able to regain lost ground to eventually top the podium.
Richard and Ockwell suffered a flat tire during the first day of action and were unable to change it immediately. The resulting damage as the tire broke apart pushed the team down the order to the very bottom for the start of Saturday's action.
Warren Currie and co-driver Robin Chapelsky finished in fourth-place overall to take the top spot in the Production 4 class in their Subaru WRX, while Zebe Szewczyk and co-driver Tomasz Karzynski earned the Group 5 win in their Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart, Eric Grochowski and co-driver Leanne Junnila of Alberta drove hard in their Group 2 VW Golf GTI to earn the class win and finish eighth overall.
Brothers Jan and Jody Zedril finished seventh overall and took the Production class victory in their Mitsubishi Lancer. The duo also took top honours in the PIAA Eco Challenge, where entered teams measure who can go the fastest with the least amount of fuel.
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 final round of the series takes place in Bancroft, Ontario. The Rally of the Tall Pines is held over November 21-22, 2008.
Full coverage of the championship will air on RDS and TSN. Check local listings.