Richard leads first day at PFR

Posted on 02. Oct, 2009 by in Pacific Forest Rally 2009

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Pat Richard and Alan Ockwell have taken the lead at the 2009 Pacific Forest Rally in Merritt, B.C., after five opening stages.

“We've got one game plan, and that's to win,” said Richard after the first three stages. “If Antoine wants to settle for second and let us win, that's ok but we really want to have a battle.”

Richard and Ockwell need to win here to retain a chance for the Canadian Rally Championship. After the first three stages, the pair were leading by 11 seconds.

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Antoine L'Estage and Nathalie Richard sit in second at days end, after a problem cost time on the first stage.

“We had a problem on the first stage, where the lights weren't working for half the stage,” said L'Estage. “As for the championship, I don't need to win here, but I want to keep the pressure on Pat.”

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Third place is “Crazy” Leo Urlichich and Martin Headland. This is Leo's first time at Pacific Forest Rally, and the pair have had a few troubles adjusting to the roads.

“I'm not happy with the notes yet,” said Urlichich. “The hairpin wasn't really well marked, so it was hard to tell where to turn.”

For Simon Losier, who is trying PFR for a second time, the 2009 edition has already been kinder to the Quebec driver.

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“Last year I broke the clutch here,” said Losier, waiting for a second run through the Railyard Mall super special. “Already it's better than last year, and we're only a couple of second behind Leo.”

A healthy battle is shaping up in 2wd, with four teams all in striking distance of a class win.

Gord Olsen, who has won three national titles, has returned in his Group 2 VW Golf, and after a short adjustment period is already back on the pace.

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“I'm not really watching times right now,” said Olsen. “I haven't really driven this car since I parked it, and so I have to remember how to drive it, but it's all coming back.”

Olsen and the Zedrils shared the 2wd lead heading into the fourth stage this evening, showing that Olsen still has “the jam.”

“On the first pass, we struggled a bit with rhythm,” said Jody Zedril. “With the stages all being repeats, we picked up speed, probably like everyone.” The Zedrils are also using GPS tracking at this rally, and fans can follow along at home by going here.

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Eric Grochowski and Leanne Junilla as well as Zebe Szewczyk and Tomasz Karzynski are also both in the hunt for 2wd.

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“We're working as hard as we can,” said Grochowski. “We're at a bit of a power disadvantage, and todays stage was a bit of a hill climb, but tomorrow should be good, we can really work the momentum.”

Tomorrow, teams will contest more than 130 kms of stage. The high altitude stages were coated with snow, and will likely be wet and slushy for the teams tomorrow.

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