Pat Richard and Subaru Team Canada prepare for the WRC Propecia Rally New Zealand. Reigning Canadian and North American rally champion, his co-driver Mikael Johansson and the rest of the Subaru Rally Team Canada are "down under" in preparation...
Pat Richard and Subaru Team Canada prepare for the WRC Propecia Rally New Zealand.
Reigning Canadian and North American rally champion, his co-driver Mikael Johansson and the rest of the Subaru Rally Team Canada are "down under" in preparation for the 33rd running of the FIA's Production Car (Group N) Rally New Zealand April 11-13.
This event, the "WRC Rally of the Year " in 2001, features over 400km of fast and challenging back country gravel roads that many of the top WRC drivers rate as the best rally roads in the most beautiful setting in the world. "I agree with them", noted Richard. "It's my first visit to New Zealand and its beautiful, like back home. The gravel roads are awesome, and fit my driving style so it will be a good test for the Subaru Rally Team Canada. We have a new engine in the car since Mexico and our early testing is going very well, so I'm excited and ready to get going".
This is the second 2003 FIA Production Car World Rally event for Pat, following his impressive 8th place finish at the Sweden Rally in February. In between WRC events, Pat and Mikael brought home a convincing win at the Rallye International De Quebec, beating several international open class competitors in their Group N Subaru Impreza Sti, and were in a comfortable 4th place at the Corona Rally of Mexico before a mechanical problem sidelined the team.
The Rally of New Zealand has maintained the highest level of oversees participation of any WRC event for the past 6 years and over 90 entries in 3 categories are competing this year. Competition will be tough throughout the field, but no more so than in Pat's Production Car category where New Zealand's Possom Bourne will head a field of 30.
"Possum has a distinct advantage here in his home event", said Richard. "He has had years of experience optimizing his Subaru on these roads. But all of the top competitors are here as well so it will be a great challenge for us"
The Propecia Rally New Zealand will start with a rally show and ceremonial start in Auckland on Thursday, April 10th, followed by 2 days of racing in the Kaipara region in North Land. The final day of racing is in the Waikato region, concluding in Manukau City. Please note that Auckland is GMT + 12 hours. The event should conclude at 4pm Sunday, local time or at 9pm Saturday night in Vancouver (PDT), and midnight in Toronto (EDT). Daily coverage is available at www.rallynz.org.nz