Latest News  Top spot in Canada for Fagg
Wednesday, February 6, 2013

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Archive News

By Claude Lamoureux /


All the rushing around after a late call up to contest the opening round of the Canadian Rally Championship, Rallye Perce Neige, was rewarded for Isle of Man co-driver Rob Fagg with an outright win. Competing alongside former Canadian and American champion Pat Richard in the Rocket Rally Racing prepared Subaru Canada Impreza, the new pairing would take the win by over two minutes from their closest rival.

Having only agreed to do the event the week prior, Fagg arrived at Ottawa Airport having never actually spoken to Richard and having previously only communicated with him via e-mail following the recommendation to Pat from Manx man Martin Rowe. The pair would spend the drive onwards to host town Manawaki, Qubec getting to know each other and discuss the rally ahead.

With a two pass reconnaissance of the stages on offer from the event organisors, this provided an ideal opportunity for Pat and Robert Graham & Co Quantity Surveyors sponsored Rob to gain vital knowledge from each other on stages which were reported as the worst they have ever been in terms of the grip they would offer.

A successful day in the car was bought to a close with a pre event shakedown over a 4km test and would allow Rob to gain his first experience of rallying on snow and ice and also without the benefit of studded tyres as used in Europe, another worthwhile lesson ahead of the main event the following day.

Following the seeded draw it was determined that the Subaru Canada pairing would run first on the road in their Yokohama shod Impreza with Leo Urlichich/Carl Williamson (Subaru Impreza) second and reigning champions Antonie L’Estage/Nathalie Richard (Mitsubishi Evo X) third.

It would be first blood to the reigning champions who built up a six second lead from Urlichich over the first two stages, with Richard/Fagg a further 12.6 seconds back. But that would be the end for L’Estage as he retired on the next test with engine failure, leaving Richard to take the lead following a clean run 13.3 seconds quicker than the next crew. Although as the crews reached first service following a repeat of the first three, it was Urlichich who led the way 7.6 seconds up on Richard with Steeve Hobbs (Subaru Impreza) holding onto third, Richard happy though with the start.

“We had a plan to play ourselves in today, Rob and I have not worked together before and had not met until the day before the event so this was key to the event” explained Pat, “We dropped a bit too much time on the second test and it’s repeat but were in a good position, the stages get tougher as the event progresses so this has been a good grounding for Rob.”

Stage 7, Farley, a favourite of Richard’s saw the lead retaken but by only a small margin which would be as close as 0.3 as the crews repeated Farley. A charge by Pat and Rob saw them establish a 19.9 second lead as the new pairing continued to grow and headed back to service with just four stages left.

As crews approached the 33km Kitigan Zibi test, everyone knew the next stages would decide the rally with conditions reported as very icy and grip was going to be at a minimum. Urlichich was the first to hit trouble as he ran first on the road, a puncture which was changed in stage removing him from contention and on passing the Impreza Richard backed of his pace to ensure he got through cleanly. But while running on the wrong tyres, having saved the ideal tyres for the final stage, he in turn dropped 47.8 seconds to the now chasing Hobbs and a further 15.7 on the 15km Lac a l’Arche stage to reduce the lead to 42.5 seconds while Urlichnich dropped back to fourth place.

With final service complete and the correct Yokohama tyres on the Subaru Canada Impreza, Pat and Rob tackled the 49.5Km final test, a join up of the previous two stages. Arriving at the finish they waited for the chasing Hobbs, to find out they had consolidated their lead, going an incredible 71.9 seconds quicker to lead by almost two minutes with just the 1km spectator special remaining.

A conservative approach saw Richard and Fagg fastest over the short stage to reach the event finish and win the opening round of the Canadian Rally Championship and take an early lead in the series while their closest rivals failed to score with Urlichich retiring on the penultimate stage adding to that of the earlier retirement of L’Estage.

“The car has run flawlessly,” said Richard. “We have two wins in a row and if we can keep this going it can be a fantastic year. It was very slippery and the icest Perece-Neige I’ve seen and Rob did a great job, especially for his first event on the ice and snow.”

Speaking after the event, it was obvious that Rob had enjoyed and taken the most from his experience.

“What an event! Pat has unbelievable car control and the way these guys get around on the ice with no studs is amazing,” explained Rob. “I must thank Pat and Subaru Canada for the opportunity and also Martin Rowe for his recommendation, to win is amazing!”

Rob is supported in 2012 by Robert Graham & Co Quantity Surveyors, Nicky Grist Motorsport ( and Fastime Stopwatches (