Pat Richard wins the 2008 Rocky Mountain Rally in new Subaru Impreza STI
CALGARY, Alberta (CARS Media) -- Two-time Canadian Rally Champion Pat Richard made his return to the top of the podium in a new 2008 Subaru Impreza STI at the Rocky Mountain Rally, Round 2 of the Canadian Rally Championship, presented by Subaru.
Despite teething problems with the freshly prepared car, Richard swept into the lead this weekend after championship rivals Andrew Comrie-Picard and Antoine L'Estage suffered mechanical problems that forced both teams out of the rally.
"We didn't expect to win, but it's a great finish," said Pat Richard. "The team worked really hard to make this happen."
Antoine L'Estage and co-driver Nathalie Richard retired from the contest after their Hyundai Tiburon lost a wheel. "We didn't hit anything at all. If I make a mistake, that's OK, but when it is out of my control like this, it's very frustrating."
Andrew "ACP" Comrie-Picard and co-driver Marc Goldfarb struggled with a failing engine in their Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX on Friday. After a valiant effort by the team and crew to get the car to the end of the leg, they were unable to continue on Saturday.
"It's really disappointing just coming from a second place finish in the US last week," said Comrie-Picard, who is currently leading the U.S. championship. "The team worked really hard to get the car ready, so it's tough to end the event like this."
Second place went to Gord Olsen and co-driver Todd Patola in their Subaru WRX. The duo consistently finish well at this event every year. They established their speed early on and drove smart to maintain their second place position throughout the two-day contest.
"It was super slippery, but we were setting respectable times," said Olsen. "This also ties my best career national series finish."
Third place went to Calgary locals, Zebe Szewczyk and co-driver Tomasz Karzynski, who beat out many all-wheel drive teams in their two-wheel drive Mitsubishi Lancer.
"Last year we finished fifth here, and now third," said Szewczyk. "We had super tires from Yokohama, and a great car prepared by Rocket Rally."
The Rocky Mountain Rally is the first gravel event in the Canadian Rally Championship and is known for its unpredictable weather. The event -- the second of six in the series -- included nearly 200 kilometers of fast competitive stages through intense rain and mud-covered roads through the Rocky Mountain foothills south of Calgary.
"The tough conditions at the 2008 Rocky Mountain Rally really showcased what rally is all about," said Terry Epp, national series manager for the Canadian Association of Rallysport.
This win vaults Subaru's Pat Richard and Alan Ockwell into the championship lead.
Next, the series moves east to New Richmond, Quebec, for the Rallye Baie des Chaleurs (June 27-28) where a strong field will challenge for the title. Newcomer "Crazy" Leo Urlichich in a Subaru WRX STI, veteran driver Jon Nichols in his Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution and Sylvain Erickson also in a Subaru WRX STI are just a few of the drivers expected to attend.
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 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.
For more information: www.carsrally.ca or www.rockymountainrally.com
1 ) Pat Richard -- Alan Ockwell (Subaru WRX STI) - 1 hour 26 min. 43.83 sec.
2 ) Gord Olsen -- Todd Patola (Subaru WRX) -- 1:30:18.04
3 ) Zebe Szewczyk -- Tomasz Karzynski (Mitsubishi Lancer) -- 1:34:19.44
4 ) Simon Losier -- Maxime Losier (Mitsubishi EVO VIII) -- 1:36:33.86
5 ) Hardy Schmidtke -- Adam Vokes (Subaru Impreza WRX) -- 1:38:24.43
6 ) Mark Jennings-Bates -- Jennifer Daly (Subaru Impreza) -- 1:38:42.90
7 ) Warren Currie -- Robin Chapelsky (Subaru WRX) -- 1:39:36.05
8 ) Rejean Losier -- Phillipe Poirier (Mitsubishi EVO VIII) -- 1:40:41.05
9 ) Ken Maydaniuk -- Chris Maydaniuk (Subaru WRX STI) -- 1:43:05.38
10) Eric Grochowski -- Leanne Junnila (VW Golf) -- 1:43:31.83