Rocky Mountain: Round two preview

Top driving talents head to Alberta for Canadian Rally Championship's Round 2 The top driving talents in Canada are heading to the Calgary area on May 23-24 for the Rocky Mountain Rally, Round 2 of the Canadian Rally Championship presented by...

Top driving talents head to Alberta for Canadian Rally Championship's Round 2

The top driving talents in Canada are heading to the Calgary area on May 23-24 for the Rocky Mountain Rally, Round 2 of the Canadian Rally Championship presented by Subaru.

The contest will see a fierce battle for championship points and the debut of a much-anticipated new competition car from Subaru Rally Team Canada.

Defending champion Antoine L'Estage and his co-driver Nathalie Richard are looking to extend their championship lead after starting the season with a win in February at the Rallye Perce-Neige-Maniwaki.

The Hyundai-supported driver won this event in 2007. He has earned the championship title for the past two years, but is prepared to fight hard to defend his crown this season.

"This event has been good to me and I've won here the past two years," says L'Estage, "It's going to be a good fight with lots of competition, but I'm confident."

Among the challengers are Andrew "ACP" Comrie-Picard and co-driver Marc Goldfarb, the 2007 championship runners-up. The Edmonton native and his co-driver are running an aggressive campaign in 2008 that sees them competing on both sides of the border in their Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX. They are currently standing in second-place overall in both the Canadian and U.S. championships.

"This event is a homecoming for me," says Comrie-Picard. "My family has worked and lived in the Porcupine Hills for generations, and I want to give them a win on home turf."

Two-time Canadian Rally Champion Pat Richard is expected to debut his new 2008 Subaru Impreza STI rally car at this event. It's an exciting promise for Subaru fans who have been eager to see the new model in action since it was launched earlier this year. After the retirement of the factory Subaru Canada team at the end of 2004, Richard has returned to the series with Subaru Canada backing for 2008, co-driven by Alan Ockwell. The pair finished in third place at the first round of the season in their initial outing as teammates.

"I'm looking forward to this rally and debuting the new car," explained Richard, "Antoine hasn't had a lot of competition the past few years, so I want to be competitive with him. It's a new car and a new team, but I really won't be happy with anything less than second place."

In addition to these anticipated frontrunners, many other talented teams will be vying for victory on the fast mountain course.

Up-and-comer Simon Losier will be competing in a Mitsubishi EVO VIII, having previously campaigned a two-wheel drive Honda. Alberta's Gord Olsen will be back in action in his Open class Subaru WRX, while British Columbia's Norm Leblanc will challenge the leaders in his P4 Subaru. Relative newcomer "Crazy" Leo Urlichich, also in a Subaru, has set very fast times at recent events and is sure to be a top contender.

Two wheel drive entries include Colin Armstrong and co-driver Jason Thain in a Group 2 Volkwagen Golf GTI who will resume their battle against fellow Western crew Eric Grochowski and co-driver Leanne Junnila in another VW Golf. Kris and Jaclyn Schofield have also shown impressive speed at recent events in their rear-wheel drive Toyota Corolla, and will be pushing for a top spot. Alberta locals, Zbigniew Szewczyk and Tomasz Karzynski will represent the Group 5 class in their high-powered Mitsubishi.

The defending North American Production class champions Jan and Jody Zedril, in their Mitsubishi Lancer, have new competition in the Production 3 class from the all-female crew of Jen Horsey and Elise Racette -- who will be debuting their own Mitsubishi Lancer at this event.

The event, held from May 23-24, includes 185 kilometers of competitive stages. The official start takes place at 1:00pm at the Deerfoot Inn and Casino on Friday, May 23, and Race City Speedway hosts a rally display and spectator stage starting at 6:00pm. The action then moves to a series of fast mountain stages in the Porcupine Hills area on Saturday.

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.

-credit: carsrally.ca

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About this article
Series Other rally
Drivers Antoine L'Estage , Pat Richard , Marc Goldfarb , Gord Olsen , Jen Horsey , Simon Losier