Subaru's Pat Richard wins tough Rallye Defi

Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts, Quebec (CARS Media) -- Subaru Rally Team Canada driver Pat Richard and co-driver Alan Ockwell came out on top at a difficult Rallye Defi to extend their lead in the Canadian Rally Championship.

Richard and Ockwell kept up a fierce pace throughout the two-day event to take the win in their 2008 Subaru Impreza STI. Now, with just two events remaining in Canada's six-event rally series, the team is all but assured of a championship victory with 80 points to Antoine L'Estage's 41.

"It's great to have won of course, but I was really looking forward to battling with Antoine (L'Estage) on the longer stages -- so in that sense it's a bit of a disappointment." said Richard.

L'Estage and co-driver Nathalie Richard were the favourites coming into the event, but midway through the Day 2 action, they suffered an engine failure in their Hyundai Tiburon that put them out of the contest.

"This is a really disappointing result for us, after having such a reliable car for the last two years." he said.

Second place went to Bill Bacon and Peter Watt in their Mitsubishi EVO IX. Bacon and Watt both have a wealth of rally experience and stayed calm in the face of the difficult final stages of the rally.

"We just tried to take it easy and not push too hard," said Bacon. "People started dropping out, so we let them do that and made it to the end."

Craig Henderson and Lyne Murphy of St-Constant, Quebec employed the same strategy, keeping cool heads to round out the podium in third place.

The local team of David Legault and Pat Levigne impressed many with their speed and determination finishing fourth in an event that caught out many with much more rally experience.

Another local team, Sylvain Bazinet and Patrick Piche, finished as the top two-wheel drive entry in their VW Golf GTI in tenth place overall, while Ted and Lise Mendham drove a steady event to finish sixth overall as the top production car in their 2002 Subaru Impreza WRX.

The challenging event saw fewer than half the teams who entered cross the finish line. Among its victims were Mathieu L'Estage and Yanick Napert who were on their way to a well-deserved podium finish before suffering a cruel transmission failure on the final stages.

Mitsubishi veterans Andrew Comrie-Picard and Marc Goldfarb also came to Rallye Defi 2008 hoping to gain some valuable points in the championship after suffering mechanical problems at previous rounds. However, the team was forced to retire on Saturday after taking an impact to the front of the vehicle that caused the engine to overheat.

Also retiring were Erik Grochowski and Leanne Junnila, who had travelled all the way from Alberta in hopes of securing the Group 2 Canadian Rally Championship in their VW Golf. Initially the event was going well, but the car began to suffer from a slew of mechanical problems on Day 2, and the pair was forced to retire late in the day.

"The event went really well, and we're really happy with all the work of the volunteers, as well as the depth and quality of the field this year" said Rallye Defi 2008 organiser B. Gilles Lacroix.

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 moves West to Merritt, British Columbia for the Pacific Forest Rally, October 17-18, 2008.

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

For more information: www.carsrally.ca or www.rallyedefi.com

Rallye Defi 2008 Final Results (full results at www.rallyedefi.com)

1 ) Pat Richard -- Alan Ockwell (Subaru WRX STI) - 1 hour 08 min. 27 sec.
2 ) Bill Bacon -- Peter Watt (Mitsubishi EVO IX) -- 1:15:23
3 ) Craig Henderson -- Lyne Murphy (Subaru Impreza WRX) -- 1:16:54
4 ) David Legault -- Pat Lavigne (Mitsubishi EVO IV) -- 1:17:12
5 ) Gord Olsen -- Todd Patola (Subaru Impreza WRX) -- 1:18:07
6 ) Simon Losier -- Maxime Losier (Mitsubishi EVO VIII) -- 1:18:46
7 ) Rejean Losier -- Philippe Poirier (Mitsubishi EVO VIII) -- 1:19:45
8 ) Ted Mendham -- Lise Mendham (Subaru Impreza WRX) -- 1:25:10
9 ) Hardy Schmidtke -- Adam Vokes (Subaru Impreza WRX) -- 1:25:52
10) Sylvain Bazinet -- Patrick Piche (VW Golf GTI) -- 1:26:46

-credit: carsrally