Monday, February 9, 2015

Antoine L'Estage takes the victory at the 50th edition of the Rallye Perce-Neige

Maniwaki, Que., February 8, 2015 – Subaru Rally Team Canada's new driver and co-driver, Antoine L'Estage (St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, QC) and Alan Ockwell (Toronto), began the 2015 Canadian Rally Championship season with a victory at the 50th edition Rallye Perce-Neige, in Maniwaki, Que. The winter event runs through logging roads deep in the forests outside of town, and is traditionally the first event of the championship. In 2015, the organizers celebrated the 50th anniversary of the event with a special rock concert on the Friday night. Podium celebrations following the rally were complemented by a fireworks show.

“This is a perfect way to start the collaboration with Subaru,” said L'Estage. “I really need to thank everyone on the team for preparing the car for the event. It's been really important for all of us to come out and put this car on top of the podium for the first time.”

L'Estage and Ockwell signed on to represent Subaru Canada for the 2015 season, and have adapted quickly to the new 2015 Subaru Impreza STI rally car. L'Estage's longtime sponsor Yokohama continue to support the reigning champion for the new season.  

The husband and wife team of Sylvain Vincent and Dominique Cyr (Terrebonne, Que.) drove a measured rally. The two have not competed together in over a decade, and so concentrated on finding a good rhythm and avoiding any big risks. The tactics paid off with a strong result.

“You cannot have big mistakes because they can cost you too much,” said Vincent. “You have to be really precise in these conditions. That's how I try to drive it.

“It's encouraging to have such a good result here. It's very motivating.”

Karel Carré (Laval, Que.) and Philippe Poirier (St-Rédempteur, Que.) teamed up for the Rallye Perce-Neige, their first event together. Carré is new to rally driving, having started last year. However the 22-year-old has benefitted from the tutelage of his father, Bruno, who has finished on the podium many times at Perce Neige. Bruno as opted to step back from the competition and instead support Karel's ambitions as a driver.

“I wasn't expecting to finish on the podium here, but things went really well and we had a blast,” said Carré. “This has been my first time here at Perce-Neige and it has been amazing. My dad gave me some great advice for how to pace my driving to stay in third.” 

Simon Dubé (Jonquière, Que.) once again was victorious in the two-wheel-drive class. The reigning two-wheel drive champion's success at the Rallye Perce-Neige came in spite of the fact he did get stuck in a snowbank and had other technical problems through the event. Dubé was also joined by new co-driver Eric Lachance (St-Bruno, Que.).

“Eric and I knew we had to focus and learn to work together,” said Dubé. “We lost time with some problems here and there, but overall everything went well. There were some rough roads but we were able to keep things smooth to help go fast.”


Celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2015, the Rallye Perce-Neige demanded the most of the drivers on forest roads that totalled over 220km of competitive distance. Temperatures climbed up to a frigid -15 degrees Celsius during the day, though winds added an extra chill. Roads quickly became polished ice as the entire field raced along the narrow, twisting course. The conditions combined with the duration of the event forced drivers to overcome exhaustion in their efforts to complete one of the most gruelling events on the calendar.

The Canadian Rally Championship is comprised of six events held nationwide in a season that extends from February to November. The series is presented by Subaru Canada, supported by Yokohama Tire Canada and features a contingency program from Subaru Canada. The Canadian Association of Rallysport (CARS) is the official sanctioning body for rallying in Canada.

Rally car racing is often described simply as “real cars, real roads, real fast.” The all-season motorsport sees drivers and their co-drivers take modified road cars to the limit as they achieve blistering speeds over closed-road courses that typically cover more than 150 kilometers of gravel, dirt or snow-covered roads. Fans can get up close to the cars in the service areas and catch all the action from  designated spectator points located at the best spots on the route.

Photos: Maxime Riendeau

Rallye Perce-Neige Final Results
Antoine L'Estage – Alan Ockwell – two hours, 22 minutes, 51.1 seconds
2. Sylvain Vincent – Dominique Cyr – 2:31:06.3
3. Karel Carré – Philippe Poirier – 2:32:55.9
4. Ugo Desgreniers – Jean-Mathieu Tremblay – 2:34:32.0
5. Jeremy Norris – Donald Crooke – 2:40:37.9
6. Simon Dubé – Eric Lachance – 2:45:16.8
7. Bruno Laverdière – Catherine Asselin – 2:48:20.7
8. Maxime Méconse – Cindy Spencer – 2:49:29.3
Maxime Labrie – Anik Barrette – 2:50:34.1
10. Alexandre Béland – Lyne Murphy – 2:57:45.8