Pat Richard dominates Rocky Mountain Rally to tie championship
In hot and dusty conditions, the Subaru Rally Team Canada pairing of Pat Richard of Squamish, B.C., and Alan Ockwell of Toronto won the 2009 Rocky Mountain Rally, round two of six in the Canadian Rally Championship presented by Subaru and supported by Yokohama.
The win earned critical championship points for Richard, who failed to finish the first event of the season. Richard and Ockwell are the defending Canadian Rally Champions and won this event in 2008. This event also marks the ten-year anniversary of Richard's rally career.
The pair took advantage of road position on Friday to take an early lead and held their first place position to the end.
"With us earning maximum points, this is the best possible result for the championship," said Richard.
Andrew Comrie-Picard of Toronto and co-driver, Robbie Durant of England finished second in their Mitsubishi Evolution X. The two recently teamed up and have showed impressive speed in American events. The 2009 Rocky Mountain Rally was their first Canadian event together.
"We came here with the car still needing a lot of development, so this is a really fantastic result for us," said Comrie-Picard. "We learned a lot about what we need to develop on the car to be even faster at the next event."
Third place went to Nick Mathew of Calgary and his sister Kelly Mathew of Caledon, Ont. The pair started rallying just last year, but have matured quickly and earned their first national podium finish.
"I'm floored. We ran a great, smooth rally, and we'd love to just keep running more stages," said Nick Mathew. "Hopefully this is a sign of things to come."
While battling for the lead, Antoine L'Estage and Nathalie Richard of Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que., suffered a mechanical failure, ending their event, and costing them valuable championship points. Coming into the Rocky Mountain Rally, L'Estage was leading the Championship, but now sits tied with Pat Richard.
Eric Grochowski and co-driver, Leanne Junnila, of Calgary won top points in the two-wheel drive championship in their Volkswagen Golf. The two struggled through the final stage after a rear wheel fell off, but were still able to cross the finish line with a nine-second lead.
"We didn't hit anything, the part just failed, but we made enough time earlier in the day to keep our win," said Grochowski.
"This was a tough event with some unique challenges thrown at the crews," said Terry Epp, the National Series Manager for the Canadian Association of Rallysport. "The high altitude stages rob the cars of power, making drivers really work for their results."
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 heads East for the next round of the championship, the Rallye Baie-des-Chaleurs, in New Richmond, Que., June 26-27, 2009.
Full coverage of the championship will air on RDS and TSN. The 2009 Rallye Perce Neige premieres on TSN on Saturday, June 13 at 11:30 EST, and the 2009 Rocky Mountain Rally premieres on TSN on Saturday, June 20 at 11:30 EST. Check local listings for more details.
Full results at www.rockymountainrally.com