@PerceNeigeRally •February 7 2016.- This past weekend, the Rallye Perce-Neige was held in Maniwaki, Québec, the first round of the 2016 Eastern Canadian Rally Championship (ECRC).
A tricky event taking place on snow and ice that had many surprises and several different leaders throughout the day before top honours were eventually awarded to Quebec driver Maxime Labrie, co-driven by his father Robert, in a Swap Shop Subaru WRX STI.
First rally leaders were Jean-Sébastien Besner and Yvan Joyal (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9) followed by young Karel Carré and Samuel Joyal (Subaru WRX STI). The rally then saw the Labrie duo, who were only sitting in fifth spot a third of the way into the day, slowly climb their way ahead to definitively take the lead in the second half of the rally and then cross the finish line one minute and forty-eight seconds ahead of Besner/Joyal. This win at Rallye Perce-Neige is Maxime Labrie’s first career overall national victory and one of his first in the Eastern Canadian Rally Championship.
In these tricky conditions, where the most minor “off” could result in minutes lost trying to get your car out of a snowbank, there was nothing too surprising about Labrie and Besner’s performances, seeing as they are two experienced drivers. At the same time, finding a rookie driver on the ECRC podium is a completely novel situation, which is exactly what happened with Simon Vincent, son of Sylvain Vincent (winner of the series’ inaugural season’s first event, last year). Co-driven by his mother, Dominique Cyr and using the Subaru WRX STI prepared by Test Racing, with which his father concluded his own driving career at the end of 2015, Simon contested a remarkable Rallye Perce-Neige to finish in third place. Naturally, he also finishes as top rookie and has positioned himself as one to watch for the 2016 title.
The Top 5 was completed by Quebeckers Bruno Laverdière and Pat Lévesque (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8) and Ontarian Eric Vlasic, co-driven by Quebecker Hubert Gaudreau, in a Subaru Legacy. Behind them were André and René Leblanc (Subaru WRX STI) from the Gaspesie region, and the father/daughter duo of Sylvain and Chloé Érickson, who swapped their un-ready Hyundai Accent WRC for the Subaru Impreza RS, with which Sylvain gave the most spectacular show to all the spectators lining the roads in the Forêt de l’Aigle during the 2016 edition of this popular event.
Mikael and Manuel Arsenault finished in eighth spot with their Subaru WRX STI, just ahead of 2WD winners Simon Dubé et Éric Lachance (Volkswagen Golf GTI). For Dubé/Lachance, finishing the event was victory enough after breaking a half-shaft early in the rally seriously compromised their chances. The 2WD podium was rounded off by Nicolas Laverdière/Vincent Trudel (Honda Civic) and Richard Kirton, co-driven by veteran driver Steve Walkington, in a Volkswagen Golf GTI.
Also to note was Karel Carré and Samuel Joyal’s tenth place finish, following mechanical problems in the second half of the rally that cost them their fight as they battled for the overall victory.
The Eastern Canadian Rally Championship (ECRC) consists of nine rounds this season, all at the regional level, spread out between Ontario, Quebec, and the Maritime provinces. The next round will take place on May 7th, in Ontario, for the Lanark Highlands Forest Rally.
For information, visit the website www.ecrc-crec.ca