Subaru Canadian Rally Championship Presented By Yokohama Round 5 Of 2002 Championship Five-time champion McGeer returns to seek more success on The Gaspe. NEW RICHMOND, QUE. (July 3/2002) - Five-time Canadian rally driving champion Tom McGeer...
Subaru Canadian Rally Championship
Presented By Yokohama
Round 5 Of 2002 Championship
Five-time champion McGeer returns to seek more success on The Gaspe.
NEW RICHMOND, QUE. (July 3/2002) - Five-time Canadian rally driving champion Tom McGeer will make a rare comeback appearance this weekend at the site of some of his greatest successes on the Gaspe peninsula of eastern Quebec.
McGeer heads a record 55-car entry at the Rallye Baie-des-Chaleurs, which marks the midpoint of the 2002 Subaru Canadian Rally Championship, presented by Yokohama. The event, which begins Friday evening and continues through Saturday, is the fifth of nine rounds in the series.
The 42-year-old from Georgetown, Ont., scored his first-ever national victory at the Baie-des-Chaleurs in 1992 and also won the past two editions on his way to the 2000 and 2001 championship titles. His 2000 victory began a remarkable string of 10 wins in his next 12 events.
But this year, the factory-backed Subaru Canada driver has scaled back his schedule. This is just his second Canadian appearance of the season, the other being a victory at the Rallye de Quebec five months ago. And he will probably do just one more event, the Rallye International de Charlevoix in October.
McGeer, a pilot, has cut back because he is spending a lot of time overseas following a recent job promotion with a major Asian-based airline. When he is in Canada, he wants to spend as much time as he can with his young daughters, although he says he will likely return for a full rally campaign in 2003.
In McGeer's absence, his Subaru Canada team-mate, Pat Richard, of Vancouver, won two in a row in his Impreza WRX - at the Rallye Perce-Neige Maniwaki in Quebec and the Bighorn Rally in Alberta - but failed to finish the most recent event, the Rocky Mountain Rally, out of Calgary, in May.
Victory at the Rocky Mountain went to the Yokohama-sponsored Mitsubishi Lancer of Sylvain Erickson, from Gatineau, Que. The win moved him into a tie for Richard for the overall lead. Each now has 50 points, so the Baie-des-Chaleurs could prove pivotal in the course of the championship.
Andrew Comrie-Picard, who hails from Edmonton but now lives in New York, is third overall - and the season's top rookie - with 36 points, having finished on the podium in each of the past three events in his Mitsubishi Lancer.
As well as the North America regulars, the Baie-des-Chaleurs will also feature Belgian driver Dominique Julien. This is his third Canadian event in the past year. He was fourth at Charlevoix last October. He will drive Erickson's spare car, a powerful Mazda 323 GTR.
The Baie-des-Chaleurs is based out of New Richmond on the southern coast of the Gaspe peninsula. This is the 25th edition of the event, one of the most popular in Canada with crowds of 3,000 or more expected at some of the spectator points.
The rally will cover a total distance of about 300 kilometres, including 193.43 kilometres of special stages, the high-speed competitive portions of the event on gravel roads temporarily closed to the public.
The cars will leave from the New Richmond Arena at 5.45 p.m. on Friday and run the first six of a total 15 special stages that evening, including three runs through Camp Brule, a natural amphitheatre near St-Edgar.
On Saturday, spectators are invited to two special stages at Musselyville, near Caplan, east of New Richmond, beginning at 11.30 a.m. and to two more runs through Camp Brule, starting at 4.30 p.m. The rally wraps up back in New Richmond at 7 p.m.