Richard Wins PFR, L'Estage Clinches Canadian Championship

Merritt, BC The 2011 Pacific Forest Rally in Merritt, BC might have marked a return to form for Pat Richard, but it was Antoine L'Estage who once again stole the show by securing his fourth Canadian Rally Championship. It has been a stellar season for the Quebec native and co-driver Nathalie Richard, who had won every single round prior to Pacific Forest.

Richard, driving once again with Alan Ockwell, who replaced Leanne Junilla in the right-hand seat for Subaru Rally Team Canada, finished almost 48 seconds ahead of second-placed L'Estage. Remarkably, it was Richard's first win since last season's Rallye Baie Des Chaleurs - a massive winless streak for an accomplished competitor like Richard. And it was a relatively trouble-free weekend for the former Canadian Champion, who has suffered through more than his share of reliability issues this season.

"Crazy Leo" Urlichich rounded out the podium in third position, continuing his streak of top three finishes. The popular driver was leading at one point on Friday, but boost issues limited the Can-Jam crew throughout the weekend, and they were eventually passed by both Richard and L'Estage. At one point, Leo claimed that he "almost blew the turbo out", but co-driver Martin Brady took a more optimistic tone, adding "well not really, but that's Leo for ya."

Max Riddle and Aaron Neumann topped the regional podium and placed fourth in the overall rally standings. Part of the Rocket Rally family, the 20 year old - who has only been racing competitively for a year, has shown tremendous potential in such a short period of time. There is little doubt that he will be a podium contender at the national level very soon.

Onur Teczan and Angela Cosner, another Rocket Rally crew, finished second regionally. Mike Goodwin and Martin Burnley rounded out the regional podium in third position.

Although Antoine L'Estage and Nathalie Richard have clinched the drivers' and co-drivers' titles respectively, the Manufacturer's championship is still up for grabs. Pat Richard has scored enough points this season to help give Subaru a chance to claim that title at the Canadian Rally Championship season finale at the Rally of the Tall Pines.

That event runs from the 25th to the 26th of November in Bancroft, Ontario. With some of Ontario's best roads and notoriously unpredictable weather conditions, it will, without a doubt, be a great way to cap off another fantastic season.