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Richard sets all-time victory record while Block crashes out

Subaru Rally Team Canada driver Patrick Richard took a hard-fought victory at the Rallye Baie des Chaleurs, held this past weekend near New Richmond, QC, beating the entire field of 48 cars and solidifying his overall lead in the 2009 Canadian Rally Championship.

Driving a Subaru Impreza WRX STi, Squamish, BC based Richard and his co-driver Alan Ockwell, of Toronto, ON, took the lead after the fourth stage and never looked back, marking Richard’s second overall win in a row, and third overall win at this particular event. Three victories by a single driver is a new record for this classic event which has been held for 32 years.

“This was billed as the North American showdown of the season,” explained Richard, “we had the fastest drivers in North America at this event and it didn’t disappoint in terms of action for the fans.” The entry list included the top ranked teams from the American national championship including Ken Block, who won the last round of the Rally America series and is a 2 time X Games medalist. Despite a flat tire on the second stage, Richard and Ockwell shared the best stage times with Block, who eventually crashed out on stage 4. “After Ken crashed out we pretty much paced ourselves to the end. It was one of those rallies where you either broke or crashed trying to keep up.”

The team’s event wasn’t without some drama, however. “We decided to try some different suspension settings, which didn’t really work out,” explained Ockwell. “Once we reverted back to the original setup, the only issues we had were with the tires.” Despite leading the event from the fourth stage, the team endured a total of four flat tires. “It wasn’t like we were pushing, we had several minutes of advantage, but we kept pulling tires off the car. In the end, the car ran flawlessly but we’ll have to look at what we can do about our tire situation before the next event.”

The Rallye Baie des Chaleurs is considered the toughest round of the Canadian Rally Championship, and normally teams fight to stay in the event with engines, transmissions and suspension components pushed to the limit in this tough test of speed and endurance. “I have to give credit where credit is due – the car was absolutely flawless. Aside from the tires we didn’t have anything go wrong at all, and that is despite the fact that we were leading the toughest event in the championship. Our Squamish, BC-based Rocket Rally crew did a fantastic job.” Rocket Rally Racing is based in Squamish, BC, Canada and operates the Subaru Rally Team Canada on behalf of Subaru Canada, with associate sponsors Vision-X Lighting, Crawford Performance and ACT providing product support for the 2009 Canadian Rally Championship.

This victory puts Richard and Ockwell solidly in the lead of the 2009 Canadian Rally Championship, now at the halfway point of its season. Richard and Ockwell are the defending champions from 2008. All rounds of the Canadian Rally Championship are televised nationally on TSN, TSN2 and RDS, as well as internationally. For television times, please check your local listings. More information about the Canadian Rally Championship can be found at the Canadian Association of Rallysport’s website www.carsrally.ca. Photos, videos and more information about the team can be found at the team’s website www.rocketrally.com.

Photo by Andrew Harvey, www.andrewharvey.ca

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