Round 2 of 2001 championship McGEER RETURNS TO SCENE OF PAST SUCCESS MANIWAKI, Que. (Feb. 7/2001) - Canadian rally driving champion Tom McGeer returns this weekend to the event where he launched his successful title quest last season. It was a...
Round 2 of 2001 championship McGEER RETURNS TO SCENE OF PAST SUCCESS
MANIWAKI, Que. (Feb. 7/2001) - Canadian rally driving champion Tom McGeer returns this weekend to the event where he launched his successful title quest last season.
It was a year ago at the Rallye Perce-Neige Maniwaki - round 2 of the Subaru Canadian Rally Championship, presented by Yokohama - that McGeer scored the first of the five victories that propelled him to the 2000 championship crown.
Coming to the Perce-Neige Maniwaki this year, the 40-year-old driver from Georgetown, Ont., is already ahead in his bid to defend his title. Driving a Subaru Impreza, with Mark Williams navigating, he won the season-opening Rallye de Quebec two weeks ago to take the early points lead.
McGeer's victory in Quebec City completed a personal grand slam. He has now won each of the eight rallies that make up the Canadian championship.
The Perce-Neige is the oldest winter rally in Canada, dating back to 1964, and for a second straight year it is being run out of Maniwaki, about 120 kms. north of Ottawa. A total of 48 cars are entered.
The rally begins at 10 a.m. Saturday (Feb. 10) with a short sprint around the Chateau Logue hotel in Maniwaki. This is the first of 12 special stages, the competitive portions of the rally on roads temporarily closed to the public.
The rest of the rally will take place mostly on snow and ice-covered forest roads to the south and west of the town in the Foret de l'Aigle region of the Haute Gatineau. The 12 special stages account for 208 kms. of a total rally distance of 450 kms. Competitors return to the Chateau Logue at 10.20 p.m.
McGeer's main challengers are expected to include Frank Sprongl and Keith Townsend, who were second and third, respectively, in Quebec City.
Sprongl, of Mississauga, Ont., was not sure at mid-week which car he will be driving. He and his navigator, brother Dan, were still trying to ready the Audi Quattro S2 which has carried them to more than 30 wins in the past 10 years. It has been sidelined by motor problems for the past nine months.
If the Quattro S2 is not ready, Sprongl will run a significantly less-powerful Quattro Coupe, the car he drove in the Rallye de Quebec. Sprongl has won the Perce-Neige twice before, in 1995 and 1999.
Townsend, of Toronto, and his navigator Ian McEwen, of Thornton, Ont., will be in a Mitsubishi Lancer, a car which is also prepared by the Sprongls.
Besides McGeer and Sprongl, one other past winner of the Perce-Neige will be returning this year - for the first time since 1988. Jean-Paul Perusse won the rally in 1975, the first time it counted for the national championship, and again in 1977. Now 57, the Montrealer is making a comeback to the sport this year. He was 10th on the Rallye de Quebec at the wheel of a Volkswagen Golf.