FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 6, 2004
For more information,
Contact: Christopher Richards
Rocket Rally Racing
Wellsboro, Pennsylvania -- A sixth consecutive overall North American Rally Championship victory eluded series points leader Patrick Richard at this weekend's Susquehannock Trail Pro Rally (STPR), held near Wellsboro, Pennsylvania. Although Richard was leading at several points during the rally, severe brake problems forced him to slow for the events' final five stages, bowing out to Shane Mitchell, the eventual winner of the event.
"At the beginning of stage six, we had absolutely no brakes at all," explained Richard. Patrick Richard and his co-driving sister, Nathalie Richard, had just re-taken the lead of the event from six-time Canadian Rally Champion Frank Sprongl, who dropped out of the event on the fifth stage.
"We started the stage anyhow, but we then had two huge moments on the first two real corners, one after the other. After that, I knew that we had to slow down if we intended to finish, and we drove using only the handbrake until the next service." Richard's brake problems forced him to give up his lead, dropping approximately 30 seconds to the second-placed vehicle, driven by Shane Mitchell.
Following repairs at the next scheduled service stop, the team was prepared to mount a challenge to regain their deficit to the leader, when disaster struck. "We left the service, and on the way to the stage, the brake pedal went dead again. At the service, we originally thought I had just boiled off all of the brake fluid, but it turns out that we had a leaking rear caliper." Forced to make roadside repairs to diagnose and then disable the rear braking system completely, the team went on to maintain their second position on calculated stage times, but was awarded a nine minute penalty for making their roadside repairs.
"Stunned is the only way to describe it," declared Nathalie. "We persevered through the event, scoring very respectable times despite our problems, and we arrived at the finish believing we had finished the rally second overall." The Susquehannock Trail ProRally is one of a handful of events which heavily penalizes teams for arriving late at a stage start, handing teams a one minute penalty for each minute late. In international events, as well as the Canadian Championship and virtually all events in the American-based SCCA ProRally series, the penalty is ten or twelve seconds per minute late.
"We had enough of a cushion over the third placed car to have taken a 10 or even 12 seconds per minute late penalty. Even the scoring officials didn't realize that the penalty was a total of nine minutes. It took over an hour at the finish ceremony to figure out who was on the podium." Despite the team's situation, there was nothing that they were able to do to prevent themselves from taking a penalty. "Had we not stopped to disable our brakes, we would not have finished the rally, so it's still a positive result for us, and we are walking away from this event with good points towards the overall championship."
Dropping from second overall to seventh in this rally's final results, the team still holds a commanding lead in the SCCA ProRally championship series, and looks poised to be the first Canadian team to win the American-based championship in many years. "We have struggled with funding so far this year, but given our strong position in the championship, and the new television package for the series, we've received a few interesting sponsorship enquiries," explained Marketing Coordinator Christopher Richards. The team is currently privately funded, supported by its associate sponsors Globalstar, OMP, DMS North America and Motul Lubricants. "We know that if we can make it to the remaining events in the series we have a strong chance of clinching the Group N title, and possibly the overall championship. I hope we can try to make that happen."
The next round of the SCCA ProRally Championship, the Pike's Peak International Hillclimb, is scheduled to take place June 26-27. The Susquehannock Trail ProRally, as well as all events of the SCCA ProRally Championship series, is televised internationally on SpeedTV. Please check your local listings for details.
For additional information, please contact:
Rocket Rally Marketing Coordinator