FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 13, 2004
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Contact: Christopher Richards
Rocket Rally Racing
St. AGATHE, QC, CANADA -- Canadian rally driver Patrick Richard, co-driven by his sister Nathalie Richard, rallied to his fourth consecutive victory in the Canadian Rally Championship at this weekend's Rallye Defi, held in and around St. Agathe, Quebec. Richard's performance earned him the title of 2004 Canadian Rally Champion, despite two races still remaining to be run in the series. His hard-fought victory also gives Richard, by virtue of his three wins in the American-based SCCA ProRally Championship, the title of Overall 2004 North American Rally Champion.
"Its been a great season so far, and to clinch the championship in style with another overall win is great for myself and the team," delcared Richard. "After having a tough season in 2003, I have to say this is a great load lifted off of my shoulders."
Richard, driving a brand new 2004 Subaru Impreza STi for the Subaru Rally Team Canada, came to the event with mixed expectations. Needing to only finish fourth or better to clinch the Canadian title, his rally was complicated by the fact that Richard was not able to complete any test mileage in the new car prior to the event.
"The car was being worked on right up to the start of the event. We spent the first few stages getting used to the car and doing a lot of setup work up the differentials, brakes and suspension. I knew I was losing time to the leaders, but we were confident that we would be able to push once I was comfortable with the car." Richard and the team worked hard to get the handling under control after a near-spin on the first stage, and didn't look back from then on. "After we established a decent setup, I was able to get back into the lead of the event by the sixth stage, and from there on we had a great battle with Sylvain Erickson until he succumbed to gearbox woes on the penultimate stage."
Richard's victory established him as the 2004 Canadian Rally Champion, and also clinched him the overall victory in the 2004 North American Rally Championship.
"We've had an awesome year," explained his co-driving sister Nathalie Richard, "I hope that we can take this momentum forward to put a good program together for 2005, perhaps including some international rounds." Richard drove in the 2003 Produciton Car World Rally Championship, but suffered from mechanical problems in 5 of the six events he contested. "Pat definitely has some unfinished business in the WRC."
For the team, this victory marks an unheard of opportunity in the North American Rally scene - the possibility of a single driver winning the Canadian, American and North American overall titles in a single year. Richard has clinched two of the three titles, and is already the 2004 Group N Champion in the United States, where he drives a 2002 specification Group N car against the unlimited Open class machinery found there. With two rounds of the American-based SCCA ProRally series remaining, Richard has a significant point lead for the overall driver's title.
"We've been talking to a few interested parties about helping us make it to the last few rounds of the American Championship, to try and go for the overall U.S. title. We've met and exceeded our both our expectations and budget for this year, but a decent finish is all we need to deliver a perfect record for the team and its 2004 sponsors."
The next round of the SCCA ProRally Championship is the Colorado Cog Rally, held in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. With two rounds to go, a second place or better at either round will assure Richard of the championship.
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