Contested over eight stages, totalling under a hundred kilometers of competitive stages, the Rally of the Voyageurs is the shortest in the ECRC calendar but everything went perfectly to celebrate this 2017 edition in the best of ways, including Mother Nature with her warmth and sunny skies, as well as the fast and smooth roads.
Quebeckers Simon Vincent and Hubert Gaudreau lead from beginning to end. Victors on six of the eight stages, they however did not gain a cushion of more than thirty seconds over their closest competitors.
"I worked really hard !," exclaimed Simon at the finish.
"I fully attacked on the first few stages so that we could try to get a good lead. But the stages were shorts and it was impossible to establish much of a gap, not to mention that the guys behind me were pushing hard, too," he added.
The fight for second place was indeed intense between former Canadian champions Peter Thomson/Frank Sprongl (the latter was co-driving for Thomson in his Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX) and Martin Donnelly/Alan Ockwell (Subaru WRX STI). Thomson/Sprongl claimed fastest time on two of the special stages and eventually finished in second place (twenty-five seconds behind the winners), but the spread between the two battling Ontario teams never exceeded fifteen seconds. In the end, only eleven seconds separated second and third place.
Nicolas Laverdière and Jean-Mathieu Tremblay (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo XIII) rounded out the Top 4. Despite a spin, they maintained fourth place overall throughout the duration of the event, and also won 4-wheel drive Production Class.
Americans Dmitri Kishkarev/Ryan Dunham (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo XIII) and Ontarians Matthew Ballinger/Bruce Leonard (Subaru WRX STI) completed the first six, just ahead of the two-wheel drive winners Gary Sutherland and Kylee Davis, who had a perfect rally in their Ford Focus ZX3.
In the overall classification, Sutherland/Davis finished ahead of rookies Aymeric Levasseur and Sam Roxon (Subaru WRX STI) of Ontario, while the two-wheel drive class podium was completed by Zoltan Kovacs/Jonathan Desgroseillers (Mitsubishi Lancer) and Mathieu Ayotte/Thomas McCabe (Volkswagen Golf GTI). Two-wheel drive Production Class victory went to Scott Comens and Jeff Hagan (Plymouth Neon).
Fourteen teams contested this new version of the Rally of the Voyageurs, a rally in which all competitors were able to experience an excellent calibre of organization. For Simon Vincent and Hubert Gaudreau, it was a second win of three events this season. Will their domination continue through to the next rally? We’ll know on August 12th, when the sixth round of the 2017 season, the Black Bear Rally, takes place in Gilmour, Ontario.
The Eastern Canadian Rally Championship (ECRC) is comprised of nine events, all at the regional level, spread out between Ontario, Quebec, and the Maritimes.
For more information, consult the site www.ecrc-crec.ca