Rally of the Voyageurs preview

Round 6 of 2001 championship PARRY SOUND, Ont. (Sept. 27/2001) - Tom McGeer, currently the dominant driver in Canadian rallying, heads to the Georgian Bay region of Ontario this weekend hoping to clinch his fifth national championship...

Round 6 of 2001 championship

PARRY SOUND, Ont. (Sept. 27/2001) - Tom McGeer, currently the dominant driver in Canadian rallying, heads to the Georgian Bay region of Ontario this weekend hoping to clinch his fifth national championship title.

The Rally of the Voyageurs, based out of Parry Sound, takes place on Saturday (Sept. 29) and will be the sixth round of the eight-event Subaru Canadian Rally Championship, presented by Yokohama.

McGeer has won four of the five rallies so far this year in his 400-horsepower Subaru Impreza WRX. In the overall championship standings, he has a 42-point lead (80-38) over his Subaru Canada team-mate Pat Richard. A win is worth 20, so if he maintains his lead this weekend, he will take the championship crown.

The 41-year-old Georgetown, Ont., driver began rallying in 1985 and previously won the Canadian title in 1990, 1992 and 1993, as well as 2000 when he started the impressive winning streak which continues to this day. Going back to July, 2000, he has won eight of the past nine rallies.

But McGeer may have stronger competition at the Voyageurs than he has usually faced recently. He will be up against longtime rival Frank Sprongl, who won six Canadian titles between 1991 and 1999, but has limited his appearances the past two seasons. This will be his first Canadian rally since February.

Sprongl drives an Audi Quattro S2, which has roughly the same horsepower as McGeer's car, but which has been a little temperamental of late. The Audi had a bad misfire when Sprongl and his navigator, brother Dan, took it to a U.S. rally in July. But Dan says they think the problem is now cured.

The Sprongls, of Mississauga, Ont., won the Voyageurs in 1998 and 1999, while McGeer and his American navigator, Mark Williams, won the event last year.

While McGeer is well out in front in the championship, the fight for second is close. Six points separate the second-through-fifth placed drivers: Richard, of Vancouver (38), Sylvain Erickson, of Gatineau, Que. (37), Jon Nichols, of Lachine, Que. (34), and John Paynter, of Lower Sackville, N.S. (32).

Richard drives a 230-hp production class Impreza WRX. Erickson - who won the Rallye Perce-Neige Maniwaki in February when McGeer had motor problems - will be back at the wheel of a Mitsubishi Lancer after damaging his more powerful Mazda 323 GTR in a recent Quebec provincial championship event.

Nichols, the newly-crowned Quebec champion, drives an Impreza WRX from the Subaru Lachute dealership, while Paynter is the third driver (alongside McGeer and Richard) on the factory-backed Subaru Canada team.

The one-day Rally of the Voyageurs begins at 9.30 a.m. on Saturday. The first of 20 special stages - the competitive, high-speed portions of the event on roads temporarily closed to the public - will take place on a dirt and gravel lot at Georgian Green, just south of Parry Sound.

Teams will then head to gravel and dirt roads in the surrounding woods. The 20 special stages, varying in length from two to 20 kilometres, account for about 160 kilometres of a total rally distance of 530 kilometres. Competitors are expected back in Parry Sound at about 11 p.m.

-CARS-

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About this article
Series Other rally
Drivers Sylvain Erickson , Pat Richard , Jon Nichols , Tom McGeer , Mark Williams
Teams Williams