Rally of the Voyageurs preview

Richard chases first national title in Georgian Bay area. PARRY SOUND, ONT. (Sept. 25/2002) - Pat Richard heads to the Georgian Bay area of Ontario this weekend with a chance to clinch the 2002 Subaru Canadian Rally Championship, presented by ...

Richard chases first national title in Georgian Bay area.

PARRY SOUND, ONT. (Sept. 25/2002) - Pat Richard heads to the Georgian Bay area of Ontario this weekend with a chance to clinch the 2002 Subaru Canadian Rally Championship, presented by Yokohama.

The 28-year-old from Vancouver, who drives a factory-backed Subaru Impreza WRX with fellow British Columbian Ian McCurdy as navigator, is coming off his third win of the season, at the Defi Ste-Agathe/Duhamel in the Laurentian mountains of Quebec earlier this month.

Another win on Saturday's Rally of the Voyageurs could secure the overall title, with two events still to go, if main rival Sylvain Erickson, of Gatineau, Que., finishes outside the top seven.

A total of 36 cars are entered in the Voyageurs, a one-day event to be held on gravel and dirt roads near Parry Sound, about 220 kilometres north of Toronto.

Teams will leave Parry Sound at 8.45 a.m. on Saturday to tackle 17 special stages, the competitive portions of the rally on roads temporarily closed to the public. These special stages account for 165 kilometres of a total rally distance of 500 kilometres. Teams will return to the town at about 10 p.m.

The Bobby Orr Community Centre in Parry Sound will serve as rally headquarters and information about spectator viewing areas will be available there.

With his win on the Defi Ste-Agathe/Duhamel, Richard extended his lead over Erickson to 23 points, 85-62, after six of nine rallies. Erickson drives a Yokahama-sponsored Mitsubishi Lancer and has one win so far in 2002.

Erickson was third on the Defi, behind Richard and another Yokohama-backed car, the Subaru Lachute dealership's Impreza WRX, driven by two-time Quebec champion Jon Nichols, of Lachine.

Following a seeded draw earlier this week, Erickson will start first on the road on Saturday. This could be an advantage, as he will not have to contend with dust from preceding cars, sometimes a problem on the Voyageurs.

He will be followed a minute later by Nichols and then, at further one-minute intervals, by former Quebec champion Sylvain Vincent, in a privately-entered Impreza, Richard and U.S. visitor Jon Kemp in an Audi Quattro.

Richard is seeking his first overall Canadian championship crown, although he took top production class honors in 2000. He was second on the 2001 Voyageurs, behind six-time Canadian champion Frank Sprongl, who is not entered this year.

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Series Other rally
Drivers Pat Richard , Frank Sprongl , Jon Nichols