|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
May 27, 1999
|For more information, contact: Frank or Dan Sprongl|
Calgary, Alberta -- Three wins, 60 series points and a commanding lead in the national rally championship chase would be considered a good start to any season, but five-time Canadian Rally Champions Frank and Dan Sprongl believe Saturday's Rocky Mountain Rally here will literally be an uphill battle in their quest for a record sixth title.
"It's a very demanding rally -- lots of elevation changes, highly technical and very fast," is how driver Frank Sprongl describes the route of the event, fourth round in the Subaru Canadian Rally Championship presented by Yokohama. "The roads are hard and dusty when it's dry, and you can carry a lot of speed," explains Frank, winner of the 1998 edition of the Rocky. "But when it rains, it's very soupy, very slippery. It's treacherous."
The weather forecast for the Pincher Creek area, which includes part of the rally route, is for heavy rain.
Frank, Dan and their Audi Dealer Team Castrol S2 coupe won both Alberta rounds last year on their way to claiming their fifth national title with a record of six victories in seven starts. Their commanding win in last weekend's Big Horn Rally in Hinton, Alberta, has given them a comfortable 18-point cushion over the Quebec team of Sylvain Vincent and Dominique Cyr in an Eagle Talon. Former national champs Tom and Trish McGeer of Ontario (Subaru Impreza) are a further 17 points back.
"Having a lead in the points doesn't mean you can relax," explains co-driver Dan Sprongl. "You have to stay focused for a rally like Rocky. You can't let up." The Sprongls tried a new hydraulic shifting system on their Audi last weekend, but abandoned it in favour of conventional shifting. "You have to keep trying new things to keep competitive," says Frank, "but you can't give anything away, either. We'll only use the new system if we're sure it gives us an advantage." And advantage is something the brother team from Mississauga, Ontario would be pleased to have rushing up -- and down -- the route through the Porcupine Hills here.
The eight events in the national rally championship are televised nationally in English on TSN and in French on RDS, and internationally via satellite.