Press Release - September 10, 2017
"Crazy Leo" Wins the 2017 Rallye Défi !
September 10, 2017.- Held this weekend in and around Montpellier, in the Outaouais region of Quebec, The Rallye Défi celebrated the twenty-fifth edition and its thirty-fifth anniversary since inception. It was also the seventh round of the 2017 Eastern Canadian Rally Championship (ECRC) and an exciting rally that was eventually won by Ontarian Leo Urlichich, co-driven by American Alex Kihurani.
At the wheel of his Subaru WRX STI, "Crazy Leo" dominated the ECRC portion of this event. By the end of a flawless rally, he and Kihurani won with a lead of two minutes and thirty-nine seconds ahead of André and René Leblanc, of Gaspé, also in a Subaru WRX STI. The overall podium was completed by Nicolas Laverdière and Vincent Trudel in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo XIII, who also finished second in the Production 4WD class behind Urlichich/Kihurani. Finishing only thirty-six seconds behind the Leblanc brothers, Laverdière/Trudel's strong finish enables them to further close the gap to championship leader Simon Vincent.
Vincent, co-driven by Hubert Gaudreau, completed the event in fourth place in his Subaru WRX STI, keeping top spot in the overall championship standings, four points ahead of Laverdière and twelve in front of Urlichich.
This 2017 Rallye Défi, contested on muddy and somewhat damaged roads from rain in the weeks leading up to the event, saw the Top 5 rounded out by Patrick Rainville and Timothy Dine. The duo, respectively from from Quebec and Nova Scotia, was almost always among the leaders during the fourteen competitive stages that made up the ECRC portion of the rally.
Two-wheel drive winners from the most recent event as well as the Rallye Baie-des-Chaleurs last July, Mathieu Leblanc and Alex-Samuel L'Italien-Leblanc once again took top class honours in their Honda Civic. This third ECRC win for the duo from Gaspé was always in their sights, as they also claimed sixth place overall, a remarkable seven spots better than the next highest 2WD competitor. Second place in the class went to John Merry and Jacek Gielas (Honda Civic), followed by Michael Ketchum and Brandon Pace (Mazda 323), who were also top Production 2WD finisher.
As for the remaining Rallye Défi Top 10 overall, behind Mathieu Leblanc and Alex-Samuel L'Italien-Leblanc, were the WRX STIs of Mathieu Perron/Élizane Cyr (also third in Production 4WD), David Bérubé/Marilou Leblanc, Jason McNicoll/Bérengère Lottin, and Emmanuel Cecchet/Daniel Downey. In all, seventeen teams that were entered in the ECRC, completed the event.
The next round of the ECRC will take place on October 20th and 21st, also in Quebec, for the Rallye de Charlevoix. This event, which is always well attended by spectators and competitors alike, will be the penultimate outing of the 2017 season.
The Eastern Canadian Rally Championship (ECRC) is comprised of nine events, all at the regional level, spread out between Ontario, Quebec, and the Maritimes.