FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 8, 2004
For more information,
Contact: Christopher Richards
Rocket Rally Racing
Lancaster, California -- Fighting hard through thick dust and tough road conditions, SCCA ProRally Championship leader Patrick Richard emerged victorious at this past weekend's Rim of the World ProRally, matching last season's Championship winning record of three overall victories in a row. Despite driving a car in the internationally-recognized Group N class against higher-powered Open class cars, which allow virtually unlimited modifications, Richard overhauled interim rally leader Leon Styles in the closing stages of the event, after having experienced problems earlier on which saw him drop to as low as fourth overall before staging a dramatic, come from behind victory.
"We had a bad puncture on Friday night's stages, which were a mix of asphalt and gravel roads," explained Richard. "An unavoidable rock took out the right front tire, and we had to drive for four miles on a very twisty downhill section, unable to make left hand turns without reversing in some places." Despite having to overcome Friday's puncture and a second, less costly puncture on Saturday morning, Richard and his co-driving sister, Nathalie Richard, battled hard on the remaining stages of the American-based championship's toughest event to find themselves at the top of the leader board when it all came to an end.
"We ended up having poor road position which meant we were catching cars on the stages, and we were never able to get out of the choking dust," complained Nathalie. "But coming into the last few stages, we knew that the 'game' was on, and we increased our speed accordingly." Setting times on the events' closing stages that were over 2 seconds a mile quicker than their earlier pace, the Canadian brother and sister duo put significant pressure on rally leader Leon Styles, who inherited his first position after Irishman Seamus Burke's car was disabled following a heavy landing on one of the rallies' many jumps.
"Leon was complaining about having some small problems, and I knew that it was time to push," recalled Richard. "We had been taking small chunks of time out of his lead all afternoon, and after having had our own problems earlier, we knew that pushing for the lead might create an opportunity for ourselves."
On the events' penultimate stage, the brother and sister team ended up catching the rally leader on the rally stage, despite the inevitable dust trail behind him. "The brakes got so hot that we lost them completely, but it was only a mile from the end of the stage and I was able to handbrake the car to the finish."
Richard's third consecutive win places him dominantly at the top of the SCCA ProRally Championship standings, both for the overall and Group N titles. "We've been pleasantly surprised at our results this season, and Patrick's experience last year in the World Rally Championship has definitely helped define his driving style," commented team coordinator, Ken Kwong. "This weekend was one of ProRally's largest media events, and we have had a lot of interest from potential title sponsors, but we haven't finalized a deal to complete the season at this point." Richard and his Rocket Rally Racing team are currently only supported by personal funds and their associate sponsors, Globalstar, DMS, Motul, and OMP. "Given where we are in the standings, it would be a shame to miss any future rounds of the championship at this point."
While the Rim of the World ProRally and all SCCA ProRally Championship events are broadcast internationally on Speed TV, Patrick and Nathalie Richard will be heading to their next event, taking place at the Rocky Mountain Rally held near Calgary, Alberta. The Rocky Mountain Rally is the second round of the Canadian Rally Championship, where Patrick, driving a Subaru Impreza WRX for the factory-backed Subaru Rally Team Canada, already has a championship lead over six-time Canadian Champion Frank Sprongl. If Richard can manage to win both Canadian and American championships in a single year, it will be the first time for a Canadian driver to have done so.
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