Richard in Late, Going For Four at STPR This Weekend TOPEKA, Kan. (June 2, 2004) -- The absence of Pat Richard's name on the Susquehannock Trail ProRally entry list was the hottest topic up until about a week ago. Since then, conversation has ...
Richard in Late, Going For Four at STPR This Weekend
TOPEKA, Kan. (June 2, 2004) -- The absence of Pat Richard's name on the Susquehannock Trail ProRally entry list was the hottest topic up until about a week ago. Since then, conversation has shifted.
Now, everyone is talking about Pat Richard because he's on the list.
Richard, winner of the first three rounds of the 2004 SCCA ProRally Championship Presented by Hot Wheels®, is going for a fourth consecutive win; a mark that even last year's champion, British driver David Higgins, couldn't get.
This weekend, however, might pose the greatest threat to Richard's streak so far. Higgins lost his streak at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb after mechanical failure crippled his Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution.
So far this season, Richard has been fortunate in those regards, often taking full advantage of others' mechanical misfortunes en route to the win. However, there may be some other factors in play in the forests of northern Pennsylvania that haven't been a part of any other rally weekend to date.
Frank Sprongl, the multi-time Canadian champion, has thrown his name into the mix for the first time this year. Richard, a Canadian, regards Sprongl as one of his idols. Nervousness (the kind that can sometimes afflict the "understudy" when going up against the "teacher") is something that Richard, now in his fifth year of competition, has not dealt with this year. Not on American soil anyways.
That said, don't be fooled. Richard carries a confidence that comes with having speed and knowledge of when to use it. He is fast in his Group N 2002 Subaru Impreza WRX STi. Super fast. Crazy super fast. This year, Richard's strategy seemingly has had a "don't break" approach on the first day. Then he opens it up on the second day, setting a few fast stage times along the way to the win after others have dropped out because of poor decision making or mechanical failure.
Others, besides Sprongl, lie in wait if Richard slips up this weekend. Leon Styles leads the Open class point standings currently and is second overall (66-30) behind Richard. He is still learning the ins and outs of his new Rhys Millen-prepared Mitsubishi Evo, but has put together a solid season thus far.
Shane Mitchell, last year's Group N champion, is entered after a break from SCCA ProRally action, as is Paul Choiniere. Choiniere is the second-leading overall championship driver in SCCA ProRally history with eight to his credit. Though he is trying something new this weekend (driving a Group 5 Two-Wheel Drive Dodge SRT-4 for Team Mopar Dodge), Choiniere has run this event seemingly forever, which means no matter what vehicle he pilots, he knows the Pennsylvania roads well enough to be considered a front-runner.
No matter how it shakes out this weekend, if Richard pushes his streak to four, he will have earned it.
-scca pro racing-