Press Release - February 5, 2017
Successful Return for Leo Urlichich, Winner of the 2017 Rallye Perce-Neige !
February 5 2017.- Rallye Perce-Neige was held this weekend in Maniwaki, Québec, as the opening round of the 2017 Eastern Canadian Rally Championship (ECRC). This event was welcomed for the 52nd time on the snow and ice-covered roads in and around Maniwaki, in the Haute-Gatineau (Outaouais) region of Quebec. Changes in the leaderboard were frequent but in the end, Ontario resident Leo Urlichich, co-driven by American Alex Kuhirani, took the honours in his brand new Production Class Subaru WRX STI.
Almost half (18 of 41) of the teams entered in the 2017 edition of Rallye Perce-Neige were registered in the ECRC, which set the stage for some spectacular battles. The early leader was the young Karel Carré, who, after succumbing to mechanical problems, handed the top spot over to Leo Urlichich. The Russian took control and never looked back. In addition to winning the Canadian Championship’s portion and the Quebec Championship portions of the event, he also finished third overall behind Brit David Higgins and American Travis Pastrana, who were exclusively entered in the American Rally Association portion of the event. It should also be highlighted that Urlichich, making his comeback after a three-year absence, was at the wheel of a brand new Production Class 4WD Subaru WRX STI, which much more closely resembles a street car.
Urlichich/Kuhirani won with a lead of three minutes and eighteen seconds over Ontarian Jeremy Norris, co-driven by American Brian Johnson. Second in ECRC and top Open Class competitors, Norris and Johnson finished two minutes and forty-one seconds ahead of Quebeckers Steeve Hobbs and Philippe Poirier, who also shone in their return to competition, successfully making their way through the 2017 edition of this event, held in good but tricky winter conditions, primarily contested on roads in the Aigle forest and in the town of Maniwaki.
Behind this 100% Subaru podium sat the fourth place team of Quebecker Simon Vincent and American Aaron Crescenti, only 57 seconds off of Hobbs/Poirier, and also driving a Subaru WRX STI. Five other Quebec teams followed suit including the duos from the Gaspesie region consisting of André and René Leblanc and Mikael Arsenault/Manuel Arsenault, who rounded off the Top 6, also in Subarus.
Nicolas Laverdière (co-driven by Vincent Trudel), who was in his first rally at the wheel of ex-Bruno Laverdière Mitsubishi Lancer Evo.8, finished in seventh place after a big battle with the Arsenaults, who eventually beat them by 29 seconds. Laverdière/Trudel also finished second in 4WD Production.
Next up were Quebeckers David Bérubé/Marilou Leblanc (Subaru) and Mathieu Dupelle/Francis Paquet, who were at their first rally at this level of competition. They finished ahead of Nova Scotian driver Malcolm Swann (co-driven by Timothy Dine), who was sitting in for Max Méconse Larocque as he awaited the birth of his first child.
In two-wheel drive, the duo of Patrick Marcoux/Chantal Villeneuve (Honda Civic) took first place honours ahead of Jean-Charles Carrière/Catherine Asselin, also in a Honda. In total, 17 of the 18 ECRC entrants completed the 2017 Rallye Perce-Neige.
The Eastern Canadian Rally Championship (ECRC) is comprised of nine regional-level events spread across Ontario, Quebec, and the Maritimes. The next round, the Lanark Highlands Forest Rally, will take place on May 6th in Ontario.