Team Canada in the WRC


Well-Known Member
Montreal, February 6, 2003 – Karlstad, Sweden, and Maniwaki, Quebec, are
an ocean apart, but the two places have something in common this weekend
as the starting point for the first events of the season in the World
Rally Championship for Production Cars and the Canadian Rally
Championship respectively.

In Sweden, Sherbrooke-Quebec-born, Vancouver-based driver and defending
national champion Pat Richard, will be making his debut in the world
championship in the Group N category, the first Canadian to do so.
Richard and co-driver Mikael Johannson, of Sweden, will be at the wheel
of the Impreza WRX STi road rocket, as Subaru Rally Team Canada (SRTC)
becomes the first Canadian-based car maker to back a driver’s run for an
FIA world title.

Richard will be without his regular co-pilot, veteran Canadian rally
driver Martin Headland, who sustained injuries to his sternum and ribs
when he and Richard were involved in a collision with a non-rally
vehicle on the first day of reconnaissance for the Swedish rally,
earlier this week. Richard has been medically cleared to compete,
although he is still experiencing considerable pain and does not expect
to be in peak form.

"I'm just glad to be able to run," said Richard, who will be competing
in six events in the 2003 Group N World Rally Championship, as well as
selected events in the Canadian and North American championships. "It
was touch and go for a while whether I was going to be able to enter the
rally. I don't feel that I'm doing 100%, but it’s not 70% either."

With reconnaissance cut short by the accident, Richard was unable to
make pace notes for stages 1, 9 and 13, and the Canadian driver is
concerned that this will put him at a disadvantage, at least at the
start. This is where Johansson, who has more than 10 years of rallying
experience and has competed in the Swedish rally on five previous
occasions, is expected to play a major role.

"I think Pat is a good driver, but you can tell he is not used to
studs," said Johansson. "That first stage is like a dance floor with
ice. After the first couple of stages, I think we will go very well."

The Rally of Sweden is the only winter event in the FIA World Rally
Championship, and one of two World rallies where studded tires are
permitted. Event organizers expect course conditions to be conducive to
good rallying, with a hard base to the special stages and at least some
snow in the Hagfors region, the site of a new "sprint" stage.


While Richard is making history in Sweden, about 50 drivers will be
tackling the tight, snow-banked course in the Maniwaki-Upper Gatineau
region of Quebec, north of Ottawa at the Rallye Perce-Neige Maniwaki on
Saturday, a rally that Richard won last year. There is no shortage of
solid contenders in the open-class category at this year’s event, the
oldest winter car rally in Canada and part of the Canadian championship
since 1975. As the 2003 season opener, the date clash with Sweden means
Richard will start his Canadian title defence at the second round, the
Rallye Internationale de Quebec.

Hi-res media-ready photos of Pat Richard at the WRC Swedish Rally are
available daily at the following website:

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Well-Known Member
Pat Richard Takes 9th in Sweden!

Hagfors, Sweden, February 9, 2003 – Pat Richard’s weekend debut in the
FIA’s World Rally Championship – the first Canadian driver to compete at
that level – produced a respectable ninth-place finish in the Group N
Production Car division at the Rally of Sweden and brought accolades
from his co-driver, Mikael Johansson.

"I was impressed by his determination," said Johansson, a native of
Sweden, following completion of the rally on Sunday. "Many other drivers
would have pulled out of this event. When he has some time to reflect on
it, he'll understand that it is quite an accomplishment to just finish
your first Swedish rally."

Richard, the Sherbrooke, Quebec-born and Vancouver-based driver for
Subaru Rally Team Canada, finished in 42nd position overall at the WRC's
second event of the season, but first for the Production class.
Finland's Marcus Gronholm, in a Peugeot, won the snow rally, that
covered almost 1,900 kilometres and 17 special stages, while Sweden's
Kenneth Backlund won the Group N division in a Mitsubishi.

Richard had to cope with plenty of adversity, prior to and during the
race. He and his regular co-driver, Martin Headland, were involved in a
collision with a non-rally vehicle during their first practice run early
in the week. Headland suffered bruises that sidelined him in favour of
Johansson, while Richard soldiered on despite considerable pain,
especially in his wrists.

This year's Swedish Rally was also tougher for the competitors because
of more snow than recent years, causing the driving line to change
markedly, which had an impact on the pace notes.

"It's an awesome event and driving on studs is wonderful," remarked
Richard, the defending Canadian rally champion. "But it's also a
specialist's event. I'm a bit disappointed that my true potential did
not emerge, given the radical circumstances we had to face. To finish
where we did is amazing and if we hadn't been caught behind the two
slower cars on stage 3, we would have definitely been in the points.
Seven of the eight guys who finished in front of us are former or
current World, British, European, Asian and Australian champions, so I
don't feel so bad !"

Richard was impressed by the performance of the Impreza WRX STi Road
Rocket and the work of his crew. The only problem on the final day of
the race was a balky transmission that the crew replaced in less than 18
minutes, costing Richard no penalties.

Meanwhile, on the Canadian rally championship front, Sylvain Erickson,
driving his Mitsubishi Lancer EVO IV over a course that wended through
areas where he was born and raised, won the Rallye Perce-Neige Maniwaki
on Saturday, the first event of the nine-race Subaru Canadian Rally
Championship season.

Erickson, a Maniwaki native who now resides in Gatineau and his
co-driver, brother Philip, took the lead in the fifth stage of the
rally, which covered a distance of some 225 kilometres of special
stages, and were never threatened as they went on to cross the finish
line in a time of two hours, 35.59 minutes. It was the Ericksons' second
victory in three years at Perce –Neige Maniwaki, Canada's oldest winter
car rally. The brother duo won in 2001 and ceded that honour to Pat
Richard last season, the driver to whom they were the runner-up in the
overall championship standings.

The next event in the Canadian championship is the Rallye International
de Québec, in Quebec City, Feb. 26-March 2, a rally in which Pat Richard
and the Subaru Rally Team Canada will be competing.

High resolution photos of Pat Richard at the WRC Swedish Rally are
available at the following website:

High resolution photos from Rallye Perce-Neige-Maniwaki are available at
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