Leo First on the Road at Rallye Perce Neige

Posted on 03. Feb, 2012 by in Canadian Rally Champs, CRC 2012, Event Coverage, Perce Neige 2012

“Crazy” Leo Urlichich and co-driver Carl Williamson will open the 2012 Canadian Rally Championship, as first car on the road for the Rallye Perce Neige. in Maniwaki, Quebec. “I think it's perfect to be first on the road, it'll be less polished,” said Urlichich after the start order draw. “I have to be smooth, and not too wild. Drive smart like at Sno*Drift last weekend.” Pat Richard and Alan Ockwell will be second on the road, followed by main rivals Antoine L'Estage and Nathalie Richard. “I think Pat has the perfect road position,” said L'Estage. “Sometimes you get too far back [in the order] and you can get pulled into the icy tracks. It's not easy.” Bruno Carre and Yvan Joyal will run fourth on the road, followed by Craig Henderson and Lyne Murphy. Any one of these teams can challenge for the podium, and they aren't the only ones. Ugo Desgreniers has finished on the podium here before, and Steeve Hobbs is also capable of a top three finish. Also on hand to mix things up is Max Riddle, back after a heavy roll at the final rally of 2011. He's excited for a good finish here, and has done well at the snowy Big White regional rally in Kelowna, BC. Keith Townsend and Jen Horsey have reunited after running Targa Newfoundland together, and will be running in Leo's back up car. While it's been a while since the two have run a Canadian Rally Championship event, they could surprise a lot of people with a smooth and mature drive. Two wheel drive also has an interesting field. Thierry Menegoz has entered, in his easily recognized Ford Fiesta, and Peter Kochandrle will be eyeing a two wheel drive win in his Group 2 VW Golf. You can also expect a strong performance from Martin Walter in his rear wheel drive Nissan 240SX. With light snow falling, and expected to continue through the night, tomorrow's stages will be coated with a light dusting of snow, though what is underneath varies from stage to stage. Some of the in town stages have decent grip, while the stages held deeper in the forest, to the west of Maniwaki are icy in spots, and deep snow in others. Tire strategy will be key, and changes to the schedule - no remote service and a new final stage run in town - will also mean drivers accustomed to how things have run in the past will need to be careful to rethink service and tire strategies. As per Canadian Rally Championship rules, no studs are allowed, meaning cars can get sideways, and drivers will use snowbanks to stay on the road. One wrong move, and the snowbanks that could help can pull you right off the road, often forcing a team to retire from the rally. Rallye Perce Neige starts first thing tomorrow morning, and as usual, we'll be brining the news back to you at home.

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