January 22, 2003
Subaru Canada partners with Patrick Richard to compete in 2003 World Rally Championship
Vancouver, B.C. – Patrick Richard and Subaru Canada, the reigning Canadian and North American Group N rally champions, announced today a strategic partnership which will see Subaru Canada, Inc. provide product and technical support for Richard’s recently-announced 2003 World Rally Championship campaign. Richard is the first Canadian to ever be accepted into a World Rally Championship, and this announcement marks the first Canadian team entry into the WRC.
The program will see Richard contest the 2003 World Rally Championship for Production Cars in a Subaru Impreza WRX, prepared and maintained by the Subaru Rally Team Canada. Starting at the Swedish Rally on February 7th, the championship includes additional stops in New Zealand, Argentina, Cyprus, Germany, Australia and Corsica. Subaru Canada, Inc.’s and Richard’s 2003 program will include defending their Canadian Rally Championship (CARS) title, and also competing in selected North American (CNAR) events. The core staff and team management for all events will be the same individuals who have won over a dozen Canadian and North American rally titles for Subaru Canada, Inc.
“This is a new venture for us,” noted Brian Hyland, Director, Sponsorships for Subaru Canada, Inc. “One we are proud and anxious to participate in. Together with Patrick, we will be putting the World Rally Championship in the eyes of Canadians. We will be representing Canadian and North America rallying on the world stage. We’ve been supporting rallying in Canada for the past 10 years, so this announcement is a natural progression of our sponsorship of the Canadian Rally Championship, which we will also continue in 2003.”
“This partnership guarantees that firstly, Patrick will be contesting the World Rally Championship in a Subaru, the car that he has successfully won with here in North America,” explained Mike Hurst, marketing manager for Richard’s management company, Rocket Rally Racing. “Secondly, as a technical and product marketing partnership, it strengthens our team yet doesn’t preclude us from obtaining other corporate partners. This means that together we can exploit additional marketing opportunities within our WRC program.”
Completing the all-Canadian effort, veteran Canadian co-driver Martin Headland joins the team for its 2003 WRC debut. Headland, one of Canada’s most celebrated and experienced co-drivers, adds over 25 years of co-driving experience to the team. Having won multiple overall and class championships in both Canada and the USA, Martin is one of the few Canadians able to bring World Championship experience to the team. “Martin comes from a strong background and is arguably the Canadian co-driver with the most reconnaissance and pace note experience,” explained Richard. “He’s a serious competitor and I am sure that we will work well together.”
“Being able to take the team and the car that I know to the WRC is a major step forward for the sport back at home,” commented Richard. “People can identify with the program that Subaru Canada are supporting, and it should create a visible path for other aspiring North American drivers. Most importantly, I can count on my team 100%, which will make the difference between finishing in the points versus just finishing.”
Richard, born in Quebec and now residing in Vancouver, began rallying in mid-1999. Although a relative newcomer to the sport, his rapid rise to success since then includes 3 North American and 3 Canadian class championships, including the 2002 Overall Canadian Rally Championship and the 2002 North American Group N Championship with the Subaru Rally Team Canada. He recently returned from competing in his first ever WRC event, the Rally of Great Britain in Wales, where he set some top Group N times despite encountering mechanical difficulties. Richard departs early next week to begin tire testing in advance of Rally Sweden, to be held February 7th to 9th.