Rallye Defi: Series round four preview

Top Canadian rally teams in race for crucial mid-season points at 2009 Rallye Defi Just past the halfway mark in the 2009 season, Canada's top rally teams descend on the Mont Tremblant region of Quebec, September 11-12, to resume an exciting ...

Top Canadian rally teams in race for crucial mid-season points at 2009 Rallye Defi

Just past the halfway mark in the 2009 season, Canada's top rally teams descend on the Mont Tremblant region of Quebec, September 11-12, to resume an exciting points battle in the Canadian Rally Championship presented by Subaru and supported by Yokohama.

Defending Canadian champions Pat Richard (Squamish, B.C.) and co-driver Alan Ockwell (Toronto, ON) come to Rallye Defi with a ten point lead in the championship. The two are in their second year competing together as the Subaru Rally Team Canada.

"We stabilized the development of the car at Rallye Defi last year," said Richard about the level of preparedness within the team. "The car is ready to go, and so are we. A win will really help us towards wining the championship by getting a bigger points lead."

Top competition for Richard and Ockwell come in the form of Antoine L'Estage and co-driver Nathalie Richard. L'Estage won this event three years straight from 2005-2007, but suffered a mechanical failure that took him out of the rally in 2008. Back with a new Mitsubishi Evolution X, the pair from Ste-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, consider this their home rally, and are confident about their chances.

"This is my home event, and I know the roads very well," said L'Estage "We made a few more changes to the car this summer, and at our last event in Maine, everything was perfect. A win here will really help to close the championship standings."

Andrew Comrie-Picard (Toronto, ON) will be joined by co-driver Robbie Durant (Oxford, UK) for the event. The pair have shown impressive speed since teaming up early in 2009, including finishing second at the Rocky Mountain Rally in May. Comrie-Picard and Durant will be competing in a Mitubishi Evolution X, and sit six points behind L'Estage and Richard in the standings.

"The car has been developing well, and we're really confident about our level of performance," said Comrie-Picard. "A win here could move us into second place in the championship."

A number of crews will be on hand showing just how fast two wheel drive cars can be. Eric Grochowski and Leanne Junnila (Calgary, AB) will be making the long haul east to challenge the current class leaders, Jan and Jody Zedril (Winnipeg, MB). The young sensation Peter Koncandrle (Toronto, ON) and co-driver Jimmy Brandt (Lake Odessa, MI) in their diminutive Suzuki Swift will also be looking to improve on their current series standing. The Zedrils lead with 19 points, with Grochowski and Koncadrle chasing with 13 and 12 points respectively.

Sure to mix things up, Ken Block and Alex Gelsomino of Subaru Rally Team USA will be leaving the Impreza in the states and competing in a rear-wheel drive Ford Escort MkII. Block is an occasional competitor at Canadian events, having won the 2008 Rallye Baie des Chaleurs.

The fourth of six rounds, the Rallye Defi poses an endurance challenge for teams. With competitive stages getting longer on the second day of the event, competitors are forced to push faster just as they get more fatigued.

The event includes more than 150 kilometers of competitive stages run in the scenic Mont Tremblant region. One of the toughest events on the calendar, Rallye Defi is known to be hard on cars and crews alike.

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.

On the web: www.CARSrally.ca ; www.rallyedefi.com

-credit: crc

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Series RALLY