Subaru Canadian Rally Championship Presented By Yokohama
Round 7 Of 2001 Championship

Mcgeer's Roadside Repairs Win Him Canada's Biggest Car Rally

LA MALBAIE, Que. (Nov. 4/2001) - Tom McGeer won the Rallye International de Charlevoix in Quebec on Sunday after surviving a mechanical scare which threatened to sideline him on the last afternoon of the three-day competition.

McGeer, who had dominated the event since Friday, saw his hopes of victory almost dashed when the front driveshaft broke on his Subaru Impreza WRX on the second-to-last special stage (the competitive, high-speed portions of the event, held on gravel roads temporarily closed to the public).

He managed to make it to the end of the stage, pulled off the road and reached Subaru Canada's service chief on a Globalstar satellite telephone. With his guidance, McGeer and navigator Mark Williams were able to transfer some bolts from the rear driveshaft to the front and reattach the errant piece.

The roadside repairs took about 20 minutes, but McGeer just made it to the start of the next and final special stage - with a mere 10 seconds to spare.

"It was a exciting at the end. We were lucky," said McGeer, who completed the last stage with a final margin of victory of four minutes, 11 seconds over Jon Nichols. "Globalstar saved the day."

Unknown to McGeer, Nichols had his own problems in the late going, also on the second-to-last stage. The exhaust pipe broke on his Subaru Impreza WRX, which caused a total loss of turbo boost. But he too made it the finish.

McGeer completed 345.96 kms. of special stages over three days in a time of three hours, 32 minutes, 56 seconds, for an average speed of 97.48 km/h.

This was his 14th career win and his third at Charlevoix. Despite the late mechanical gremlin, it was a near-perfect weekend for him. On Friday, he clinched the Subaru Canadian Rally Championship, presented by Yokohama, for a fifth time, with one round still to go (at Bancroft, Ont., on Nov. 24).

The 41-year-old driver from Georgetown, Ont., who has now won five of seven Canadian events this year, claimed the championship when his only remaining rival for the title, Subaru Canada team-mate Pat Richard, hit a large rock and tore up the left-front suspension and steering of his Impreza WRX.

For Quebec rally champion Nichols, from Lachine, second place matched his best previous result in a national event. This was just his fourth appearance in a privately-entered Impreza WRX from the Subaru Lachute dealership, with Eric Tremblay, of St-Chrysostome, as his navigator.

Despite the late-event dramas for the two frontrunners, the overall running order remained static throughout this third and final day of competition. The top-10 finishing order was the same as it was at the end of Saturday.

Jean-Sebastien Besner, of Montreal, partnered by father Jacques, finished third in a Mitsubishi Lancer, more than seven minutes behind Nichols, but a minute clear of Belgian visitor Dominique Julien, also in a Lancer.

John Buffum, an 11-time U.S. champion who fell to last early on Friday when a radiator hose broke on his Hyundai Tiberon, charged back to take fifth, ahead of Auguste Turuani, of Monaco, in a Mitsubishi Lancer. Buffum was quickest on two of Sunday's six stages. McGeer was fastest four times and Nichols once.

John Paytner, of East Sackville, N.S., partnered by brother Clarke, finished seventh overall and took top production class honors in a Subaru Impreza WRX.

The top 10 was completed by U.S. visitor Vicente Frontinen (Lancer), Pierre Bazinet, of Bellefeuille, Que. (Impreza RS), and Peter Thomson, of Toronto (Impreza WRX). Bazinet and Thomson were second and third in production class.

The Rallye International de Charlevoix is Canada's longest and most grueling performance car rally and is the country's candidate for world championship status. An observer from the Federational Internationale de l'Automobile, former world champion Simo Lampinen, was on hand to assess the event.