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17 February, 2009
A strong field of top North American snow rally drivers was on hand in Maniwaki, Québec, this past weekend for the annual Rallye Perce Neige. It was the first rally on the six-event calendar of the Canadian Association of Rallysport (CRC) 2009 Championship season.

Defending 2008 CRC champions, Subaru Rally Team Canada's Patrick Richard and Alan Ockwell found themselves embroiled in a tough battle from the beginning of the rally, trading winning times on many of the early stages with veteran drivers Antoine L'Estage, Frank Sprongl, and Sylvain Erickson. By the eleventh stage they had a firm one-minute lead over the rest of the field.

With only two stages remaining, victory was virtually in hand and Richard was running hard in his 2008 WRX STI when disaster struck.

"After our hard-fought battle against a really competitive field, we were in the lead at the start of the twelfth stage when the engine started to overheat," said Patrick Richard. "We clearly demonstrated that the 2008 car is competitive against the top North American cars, but with only two stages to go I was forced to stop because there was no way we could continue. At this time we have not had a chance to investigate, but we suspect the problem originated from snow packing the front of the car."

Top Québec driver Sylvain Erickson and co-driver brother Philip, pushing hard in their Subaru 2005 WRX, took over the lead, but last-minute engine problems slowed the team just enough to allow Antoine L'Estage and co-driver Nathalie Richard in their new EVO X the opportunity to secure the win. Despite his problems, Erickson determinedly hung on to finish a mere four seconds behind L'Estage for second spot on the podium, while third place went to Peter Thomson and co-driver Rod Hendricksen.

A total of 18 Subaru vehicles contested Rally Perce Neige and five finished in the top ten. Winners of the 2008 Subaru President's Trophy, Craig Henderson and Lyne Murphy, finished in sixth position overall in their 2007 Subaru STI, and the 2008 Canadian Rally Championship Novice team of Hardy Schmidtke and Adam Vokes won the Production GT class and finished twelfth overall.

Final Results for Rallye Perce Neige 2008 (full results available at
1) Antoine L'Estage - Nathalie Richard (Mitsubishi EVO X) - 1 hours 59 min. 17 sec.
2) Sylvain Erickson - Philip Erickson (Subaru Impreza STI) - 1:59:21
3) Peter Thomson - Rod Hendricksen (Mitsubishi EVO IX) - 2:03:26
4) Bruno Carre - Yvan Joyal (Subaru Impreza STI) - 2:04:26
5) Jean-Sebastien Besner - Jacques Besner (Mitsubishi EVO VIII) - 2:12:03
6) Craig Henderson - Lyne Murphy (Subaru Impreza STI) - 2:12:37
7) Rejean Losier - Francois Morin (Mitsubishi EVO VIII) - 2:13:35
8) Martin Losier - Patrick Losier (Mitsubishi EVO V) - 2:13:41
9) Chris Martin - Phil Narini (Subaru Impreza) - 2 :16 :23
10) Andrew Wallbank - Robin Fleguel (Subaru Impreza STI) - 2:18:09

CONTACT: Elaine Griffin (905) 568-4959


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