The intention was to shoot for a win in the production class, but when it came time to perform, returning Canadian rally star “Crazy Leo” Urlichich pulled it all together in spectacular fashion to win the Canadian Rally Championship portion of the 2017 Rallye Perce Neige.
In the early morning stages, Subaru Canada Rally Team ace Antoine L’Estage, paired with returning co-driver Alan Ockwell, was fastest on the road, with Urlichich hanging out in the top five, just a handful of seconds behind L’Estage’s open class machine. Canadian rally legend Frank Sprongl assured me via Facebook that Antoine’s style was more suited to the fast and open forest stages which were to follow. Unfortunately for L’Estage, that was not to happen, as technical gremlins left him wrestling with a mostly rear wheel drive Subaru.
By Special Stage 6, Urlichich had won his first stage and not long after was running in third position overall behind American Rally Association entries David Higgins and Travis Pastrana.
Always a fan favourite thanks to his flamboyant driving style, Urlichich commented through the day that the addition of studded tires, which are legal at Quebec events, made all the difference, offering a consistent level of grip at all times.
By the completion of the final stage, Higgins had won the overall event and the ARA portion, followed by teammate Pastrana. Urlichich took third spot in both, while claiming the overall win in the Canadian championship.
Teams now have until May to prepare their machines for the Rocky Mountain Rally in B.C.
Image credit: Maciej Janiak