Pacific Forest Rally returns to the Nicola Valley
The Canadian Rally Championship makes its annual Pacific Forest Rally (PFR) pit stop on Oct. 12 and 13, in Merritt.
The 2012 PFR, which is the fifth event in the CRC series, attracts rally teams from around Canada and the U.S. They compete in production-based cars on the challenging backroads of the Nicola Valley.
The ongoing battle between Mitsubishi and Subaru will continue this weekend with Antoine L’Estage sitting in first place for Mitsubishi with 83 points, followed by Leo Urlichich in second place for Subaru at 59 points.
Local favourite Pat Richard of Squamish, driving for the Subaru national team, has had some bad luck with mechanical problems. They have relegated him to third place after four rounds of the six-round championship series.
Anything can happen in motorsports, and all eyes are focused on Merritt where a change in the standings will increase the excitement leading up to the series’ finale on Nov. 24 at Rally of the Tall Pines, in Bancroft, Ont.
Meanwhile, the organizers of the Pacific Forest Rally are working hard to deliver a national calibre event centred in downtown Merritt, with eight challenging stages on the closed roads of the surrounding mountainside.
All the action will be broadcast in English on TSN and in French RDS as well as internationally in more than 89 countries.
“Rally officials, volunteers, the City of Merritt, the Chamber of Commerce and local businesses have all collaborated to produce this extreme motorsports spectacle and I want to thank everyone for the past 10 years of dedication and support,” Paul Westwick, rally organizer, said.
“PFR has earned its reputation as the premiere rally event in Western Canada through the skilled volunteers, superb organization and a rally course in the picturesque Nicola Valley that is respected for its challenging terrain by all drivers and crews.”
There will be plenty of opportunities to catch the teams in action — both on the mountain roads and right in downtown Merritt.
The event begins with a display of rally cars on Quilchena Avenue on Friday, followed by the 5 p.m. ceremonial start as the cars head off on their first stage.
Local motorsport and classic car clubs have been invited to add to the festivities by displaying their vehicles.
The rally and street displays resume on Saturday morning when teams depart and return after each stage to the service paddock on Coutlee Ave. in downtown Merritt, where later, in the early evening, the winners’ Champaign Splash will be held.
A special Rally for the Prize draw for a VIP package that includes a ride in a fast rally car will be held Oct. 8 as part of the rally promotion.
The Pacific Forest Rally supports the work of the Abilitas Foundation, and encourages all drivers and rally fans to get behind its fundraising drive for the sake of kids and adults with disabilities.
The Pacific Forest Rally is organized by the Westcoast Rally Association and is sanctioned by ASN Canada, FIA, and the Canadian Association of Rally Sports.
The 2012 Pacific Forest Rally celebrates its 35th anniversary in B.C., and tenth running at the Merritt venue. The event has an economic impact of approximately $185,000 on the Nicola Valley area and is considered the premier rally event in Western Canada, with more than 30 rally teams taking part.