FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 4, 2004
For more information,
Contact: Christopher Richards
Rocket Rally Racing
Wellsboro, Pennsylvania -- Patrick Richard, SCCA ProRally Championship points leader, will be returning to action this weekend at the Susquehannock Trail Pro Rally (STPR), held near Wellsboro, Pennsylvania. Richard, having won all the rounds of the American- based SCCA ProRally Championship held so far this year, as well as every round of his homeland Canadian Rally Championship, comes into this weekend feeling heavy pressure for his sixth consecutive victory in as many starts.
"I've never been to this rally before, and itís the only traditional one in the American championship that I've never seen," explained Richard. "We just won our fifth North American championship event in a row, at the Rocky Mountain Rally in Calgary, and obviously a lot of people are asking if we can make it six," he joked.
Richard's top rivals will take the form of six-time Canadian Champion Frank Sprongl, and 2003 SCCA ProRally Group N Champion Shane Mitchell. "I went head- to-head against Frank back in January, on the ice and in fairly equal cars," declared Richard. "We won, but just," he explained, referring to his closely- fought victory over the North American rally legend at the Rallye Perce Neige in January 2004.
Richard, and his co-driving sister, Nathalie Richard, will be driving a 2002 Subaru Impreza WRX, built to the specifications of the internationally- recognized FIA Group N class. Group N rally cars, while modified for rallying, closely mimic their street-based counterparts and thus do not have the exotic and expensive modifications usually reserved for cars entered in the "Open" class. "Open" class vehicles are allowed virtually unlimited modifications, with the top vehicles boasting significantly more power than the Group N cars. Despite having a power disadvantage, Richard has piloted his Group N vehicle to three overall victories in the 2004 SCCA ProRally Championship, and is undefeated so far this season.
"This time around, Frank Sprongl will be competing in the Open class, while we are still driving a slower Group N car. I have to say that I don't expect us to be that close, given that our pace was similar when we were in equal machinery," declared Richard. Shane Mitchell, the second placed finisher at the SnoDrift ProRally held earlier this year, has also switched to the Open Class, despite having run in Group N for the majority of the 2003 season and capturing a podium earlier in 2004.
"It's a bit frustrating at times, but we have limited access to funds this year, and that means we must compete for Group N points, not the overall championship," explained Nathalie Richard. "That being said, we will take any points we can get, but we're not going to get drawn into a fight with any well- driven Open class cars."
The brother and sister duo, driving for Rocket Rally Racing, had not initially planned to attend this year's STPR, and their entry to the event was a last minute decision. "Our plans for this season are evolving based on our budget and points positions," explained Marketing Coordinator Christopher Richards. The team had originally published plans to contest just the first three events of the American-based SCCA Pro Rally Championship, focused exclusively on the Group N title, with some additional events coming later in the year. "Our three victories mean that we've had increased budget available to us, and at this point it seems more logical to try and score points earlier in the year as opposed to later. From this point forward, weíre planning on an event-by- event basis, but our championship hopes are looking very, very good if some key sponsorship materializes."
Fighting a heavy flu and high fever, driver Patrick Richard is not feeling 100% ready for the event. "I've missed three days of work this week and haven't really been out of bed. I'm nursing some sort of cold and it doesn't seem to go away - but hopefully my head will be clear once the rally starts. We need to stick to our game plan. I will be happy with anything in the top five overall - but only as long as itís first in Group N!"
This weekend's action, the fourth round of the SCCA ProRally Championship, starts Friday afternoon in Wellsboro, and continues all day Saturday with final results available Sunday morning. All rounds of the SCCA ProRally Championship are televised internationally on SpeedTV.
For additional information, please contact:
Rocket Rally Marketing Coordinator