Rallye de Quebec: Preview

Subaru Canadian Rally Championship Round 1 of 2002 championship McGeer Begins Title Defence Before Pay-Per-View Audience QUEBEC CITY (Jan 30/2002) - Tom McGeer begins his quest for a sixth Canadian rally driving title this weekend in Quebec...

Subaru Canadian Rally Championship
Round 1 of 2002 championship

McGeer Begins Title Defence Before Pay-Per-View Audience

QUEBEC CITY (Jan 30/2002) - Tom McGeer begins his quest for a sixth Canadian rally driving title this weekend in Quebec City and internet users will be able to follow all the action in an experimental pay-per-view webcast.

The Rallye de Quebec, round one of the Subaru Canadian Rally Championship, presented by Yokohama, will be shown on a near-live basis on the internet by TV2Go Productions. TV2Go has for many years produced the 30-minute rally highlight broadcasts seen on both TSN and RDS.

Senior producer Lawrence Partington says website visitors will be able to watch video of the event, including in-car camera work, just minutes after the action takes place. A satellite truck, equipped with editing facilities, will be on hand to relay footage almost instantly to a studio in Toronto.

On-site reporters will host hourly updates on the rally, in both English and French, and conduct interviews with the competitors. There will also be live scoring information.

All this comes with a price-tag of $10 (including taxes). Partington says the webcast is, in part, an experiment to see if there is a pay-per-view internet audience for events of this type which do not receive live TV coverage.

This is believed to be the first pay-per-view webcast of any Canadian sports event. TV2Go did a free trial run at the Rally of the Tall Pines in November and received 7,000 live hits (plus 40,000 hits on the archives since then).

The site can be accessed via tv2go.com, tsn.ca, rds.ca or rallyedequebec.com. High-speed internet access is required.

This year's ninth edition of the Rallye de Quebec, part of the city's Carnaval festivities, is bigger and faster than ever before.

It has been expanded to two full days of competition and has drawn a record entry of 70 cars. As well, teams are getting a rare chance to do practice runs (at legal speed) over the special stages on Thursday in order to prepare "pace notes" which should enable them to set faster times during the actual event.

The rally, to be held mostly in the Portneuf region west of Quebec City, gets underway on Saturday morning (Feb. 2). Teams will cover a total of 852 kms. over two days, including 219 kms. of special stages, the high-speed portions of the event on roads temporarily closed to the public.

Saturday's eight special stages will conclude with a pair of runs around the Hippodrome horse racing track in Quebec City, starting at 7.30 p.m. A further six special stages will be held on Sunday, ending with a pair of runs around the city's Parc Technologique, commencing at 3.30 p.m.

The first seven editions of the Rallye de Quebec, from 1994 to 2000, produced a remarkable winning streak for Frank Sprongl, of Mississauga, Ont. But that streak ended last year as McGeer beat him in the closest finish of the season.

McGeer's Quebec victory was his first of six wins in 2001 as he claimed his fifth national driving title in a factory-backed Subaru Impreza WRX. If the 41-year-old Georgetown, Ont., driver earns a sixth title, he will tie Sprongl for the most Canadian championship crowns.

Sprongl is not expected to be a championship contender this year, as he plans to run only a limited schedule. Quebec is one of the rallies he is skipping.

Still, McGeer should have plenty of competition, including Subaru Impreza driver Sylvain Vincent, of La Plaine, Que. - the 1999 and 2000 championship runner-up, who is returning after a year's absence from the sport - and 2001 runner-up Jean-Sebastien Besner, of Montreal, in a Mitsubishi Lancer.

Driver skill should be at premium this year because of new restrictions on turbochargers, intended to make the cars more equal. The power of McGeer's open-class (modified) Impreza WRX has been cut from 400 horsepower to 304 hp.

This weekend's event will also feature the rally debut of veteran road-racer, and popular Quebec TV personality, Bertrand Godin, whose resume includes a win in the Toyota Atlantic support race at the 1997 Canadian Grand Prix.

The 34-year-old from St-Hyacinthe has since forged a new career on television as a motorsport analyst and commentator. He will make his rally debut at the wheel of a production-class Subaru Impreza RS.

The Rallye de Quebec is the opening round of three championship series. As well as the Subaru Canadian Rally Championship, it also counts for the Quebec Cup and the newly-introduced Championship North American Rally (which includes events in Canada, the U.S. and Mexico).

Thirty-two of the 70 teams are contesting just the Quebec Cup, which will consist solely of Saturday's stages, while the remaining 38 national and international entries will compete over both days.

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About this article
Series Other rally
Drivers Bertrand Godin , Frank Sprongl , Tom McGeer