Pat Richard wins Pacific Forest Rally to keep title fight alive MERRITT, B.C. - The Subaru Rally Team Canada pairing of Pat Richard (Squamish, B.C.) and Alan Ockwell (Toronto) won the 2009 Pacific Forest Rally, the fifth round of the Canadian ...
Pat Richard wins Pacific Forest Rally to keep title fight alive
MERRITT, B.C. - The Subaru Rally Team Canada pairing of Pat Richard (Squamish, B.C.) and Alan Ockwell (Toronto) won the 2009 Pacific Forest Rally, the fifth round of the Canadian Rally Championship presented by Subaru and supported by Yokohama. Mixed conditions in the hills surrounding the Nicola Valley took a toll on both teams and cars, with battles raging all through the order.
Richard and Ockwell suffered a technical problem during the final service, requiring them to delay their departure and incur a penalty which nearly cost them the event. The duo proceeded to crush the stage record on the final stages to re-affirm their win.
"We were only three seconds ahead going into the last stages," said Richard. "We broke the stage record on Helmer, and made up 23 seconds on one stage alone."
Antoine L'Estage and Nathalie Richard (Ste-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que.) were tempted to fight for the win, but had their minds on a bigger prize. With a second place finish, the two retain a six point lead in the Canadian Rally Championship heading into the final event next month.
"It was very tempting to get into an all out battle with Pat," said L'Estage. "But we came here to make sure we keep as big a lead in the championship as possible, and it wasn't worth the risk to push."
Scott Trinder and Bill Westhead (Vancouver) finished third after a close battle with rivals in the last few stages. The result is the first national podium finish for the team.
"I'm totally stoked on the result," said an excited Trinder. "We came out here aiming to try to finish in the top few Subarus, but we're the top privateer Subaru entry, which is amazing."
Jan and Jody Zedril (Winnipeg, MB) earned the top two-wheel drive finish, clinching the 2009 Group 2 class title. The overall two-wheel drive championship is still to be decided at the final event.
"Competition in two wheel drive has really stepped up," said Jan Zedril. "You realize how many more risks you need to take just to gain a few seconds."
Eric Grochowski and Leanne Junilla (Calgary) finished second in two-wheel drive with their VW Golf, despite engine problems that worsened through the rally. Carl Barrell and Martin Burnley were third in two wheel drive, also driving a VW Golf.
"This has been one of the most exciting events we've had in a long time, with lots of battles throughout the field," said event organizer Paul Westwick. "We had really variable conditions -- snow, sand, mud, gravel -- and that kept things interesting."
The manufacturer's championship will also be decided at the final event of the season, where Subaru will defend a slim 10-point lead over rivals, Mitsubishi.
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 final round of the Canadian Rally Championship is the Rally of the Tall Pines, held in Bancroft, ON, November 19-21, 2009.