Subaru Canada Rally Team driver Patrick Richard and his co-driver Alan Ockwell made an impressive start in their campaign to win their third consecutive Canadian Rally Championship, at the 2010 Rallye Perce Neige, held this past weekend near Maniwaki, QC, Canada. Overcoming an early deficit, the pair clearly demonstrated that they were the fastest team in the field, but an unknown mechanical issue on the events 9th stage forced the team to withdraw, meaning the defending Canadian champions failed to score any points at the first event of the 2010 championship season.

“We were running pretty strong, and we were getting ready to re-claim the lead,” explained co-driver Alan Ockwell, of Toronto, ON. “But on a road section we noticed an odd sound coming from the engine bay. Despite that, we started the stage, but when the warning lights came up on the instruments, we pulled over and that was that. We still dont know what caused the problem but the mechanics will be going over it when we get back.”

Despite retiring from the event, Richard and Ockwell both remained buoyant for the remainder of the season. Driving a Subaru Impreza STI prepared by Rocket Rally Racing, of Squamish, BC, the team was able to dramatically claw back an early deficit, putting on a great show for fans and specatators lining the ice covered roads. An off-road excursion on the first stage of the event saw the team momentarily lie in 50th position out of a total of 55 entires. Once repairs were effected, the team dominated the remainder of the event, winning every stage but one, and at times being nearly 2 seconds per kilometer faster than their nearest championship rivals. This raw demonstration of speed put the team firmly into a podium position and in contention for the lead of the event when they had their problem.

“As usual, if I put myself in a position where I need to respond with really fast times, its not a problem, but it puts a lot of stress on the equipment, and the co-driver,” joked four time Canadian Champion Patrick Richard. “Its too bad we couldn’t finish the event, as we had already reclaimed all of the time we had lost at the beginning, and we were having a lot of fun in the process.”

It was also a fantastic debut for the team’s new tire supplier, Yokohama Tire Canada. Having recently signed a deal with Yokohama to run ADVAN Motorsport tires for the entire 2010 Canadian Rally Championship, the driver was adamant that running their tires was the right choice. “In Canada, unlike in most other rally championships world-wide, drivers must compete on ice covered roads without using any studs, meaning tire choice and selection is critical. On the ice and snow, the Yokohama product clearly gave us an advantage over the rest of the field, and we wouldn’t have been the fastest car out there without them.”

Despite not scoring any points at this seasons’ opening event, the team’s primary championship rivals also did not fare very well, with the 2009 Championship runner up also failing to score points due to an off-road excursion. “With all the championship contenders falling to finish, the championship is basically going to re-start at the next rally, and with the speed we’ve shown we’re confident for the rest of the season.”

The next round of the 2010 Canadian Rally Championship will be the Rocky Mountain Rally, held in Calgary, AB. All events of the 2010 Canadian Rally Championship are televised nationally in English on TSN and TSN2, and in French on RDS. The Canadian Rally Championship is also internationally broadcast in Europe/Asia on MotorsTV, please check your local listings for details.

Rocket Rally Racing is based in Squamish, BC, Canada and operates the Subaru Rally Team Canada on behalf of Subaru Canada, with associate sponsors Yokohama Tire, Gulf Lubricants, Vision-X Lighting, Crawford Performance and ACT providing product support for the 2010 championship campaign.

Photo: Andrew Harvey / www.andrewharvey.ca

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