Stellar come from behind podium finish locks it up with one round remaining

Subaru Rally Team Canada driver Patrick Richard along with his co-driver Alan Ockwell clinched the 2008 Canadian Rally Championship title in style at this weekend’s Pacific Forest Rally, held near Merritt, BC. Driving a 2008 Subaru Impreza WRX STI, the duo staged a monumental comeback from last place to climb up the leaderboard to finish third overall, dominating the second half of the event in the process. The mind-blowing performance was enough for the team, operated by Rocket Rally Racing of Squamish, BC, to mathematically clinch the overall championship title with one round still remaining.

“Winning the Canadian Rally Championship at our home event, in front of our home crowd, with a come from behind result has been a fantastic way to cap off an outstanding season for both Subaru Canada as well as the entire team, who have worked hard all year long for this result,” beamed Richard. “We have been competitive on every event we have entered this year, and the fact that we’ve won the championship with one race to go shows how dominant the new Subaru 2008 platform has been.”

Earlier in the year, Subaru Canada partnered with Rocket Rally to operate a brand new 2008 Subaru Impreza WRX STI in the Canadian Rally Championship, with Crawford Performance, Motul, ACT and Vision-X Lighting joining the team as associate sponsors for the entire season. When the car was launched at the first round of the championship, at the Rocky Mountain Rally in May, the team was able to earn the first worldwide victory for the new 2008 Impreza WRX STI vehicle platform. Since then, the team has been dominant in the championship ever since: the third place finish at this weekend’s Pacific Forest Rally was in fact the team’s lowest placing all year, despite having had to compete against X Games Rally stars including Subaru of America’s Ken Block and Hyundai’s Antoine L’Estage, who have both dominant in the Rally America Championship.

“Up until the fifth stage we were in a great battle for the lead, but an unseen rock forced us to drive through the next four stages with no air in the left front tire,” explained co-driver Alan Ockwell. Up until that point, Richard and Ockwell were just 2 seconds behind eventual event winner Antoine L’Estage. The time lost bumped the team back into last place, setting up for a fantastic finale, with Richard and Ockwell going for it all in a bid to win the championship. “We had no other choice to go flat out from that point on, as the championship was on the line, and we had the green light from the team to push as hard as we wanted to.” The pair won 10 of the event’s 12 remaining stages and put themselves onto the podium on the very last stage of the event, giving Ockwell his first ever overall Canadian Rally Champion title as co-driver. “I grew up around rallying, and winning the championship has been a dream of mine since I was seven years old. To now realize that dream is the best feeling in the world!”

This championship victory marks the third overall Canadian Rally Championship driver’s title for Patrick Richard, who in the past has also won several American Rally Championships and the overall North American Rally Championship crown. “If someone had told us at the beginning of the year that with a new co-driver, a new team, and an entirely new car, we’d win the championship with one round left… I’d have told them they were crazy! I can’t say enough thanks to everyone that has allowed this to happen including my co-driver Alan Ockwell, the entire staff at Rocket Rally who operate the team, and especially to Subaru Canada for providing such an awesome platform to work with, and our associate sponsors Crawford Performance, ACT, Motul and Vision-X Lighting. This wouldn’t have happened without all of their support.”

The next and final round of the Canadian Rally Championship is the Rally of the Tall Pines, held near Bancroft, ON on Nov 22, 2008. With the championship already locked up and the best drivers from all across North America expected to attend, it will surely be a hard fought battle for top honors at what is considered one of the most difficult events in the North American championship. The Pacific Forest Rally, as well as all the rounds of the Canadian Rally Championship, are televised on TSN and RDS. Please check your local listings for broadcast details.

Rocket Rally Racing is based in Squamish, BC, Candada and operates the Subaru Rally Team Canada on behalf of Subaru Canada, with associate sponsors Crawford Performance, ACT, Motul and Vision-X Lighting providing product support for the 2008 championship campaign.

Photo Copyright 2008 Warwick Patterson | Formula Photographic

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