by Chris Leone
Image via Tavernier Clement

After missing most of the 2018 season, 10-time Canadian national champion Antoine L’Estage and Alan Ockwell reunited for an impressive victory in Saturday’s Rallye Perce-Neige, held in Maniwaki, Quebec. With a total time of 2:36:55.2, L’Estage/Ockwell defeated defending event winners and Canadian champions Karel Carre and Samuel Joyal by just under five minutes. “Crazy” Leo Urlichich and Max Freeman completed the overall podium and won the Production 4WD class.

L’Estage and Ockwell won five of the 15 stages and finished second on five others. Initially, Carre and Joyal won the first three stages of the event, only to lose the top spot at Kitigan Zibi. In fact, the two crews were about neck and neck for the lead through most of the rally. Unfortunately for the defending champions, an encounter with a snowbank on SS11 cost them nearly four minutes, keeping them from mounting a proper charge to reclaim the top spot.

In the Open 2WD class, Philippe Benoit carried his momentum from a victory at Rallye Mekinac earlier in the month to take another win at Perce-Neige alongside co-driver Ian Guite. Mal Swann and Martin Cadieux were second, while initial winners Chris Greenhouse and Ryan Dunham were eventually scored third.

The discrepancy came after Benoit went off at Farley 1, where another competitor who also went off the road failed to place triangles marking the scene of the incident. Benoit successfully submitted an inquiry to the stewards to get back the time that he was stuck in the snow. Swann also submitted a successful inquiry for time lost at Kitigan Zibi due to blocked roads. Greenhouse did not submit any inquiries during the event and indicated in a video shared earlier today that he will not protest the results.

All told, 20 of the 24 crews that started the 240-kilometer rally were able to make it to the finish.

Rallye Perce-Neige overall and class winners are listed below:

  • Overall/Open 4WD: Antoine L’Estage/Alan Ockwell, 2:36:55.2
  • Production 4WD: Leo Urlichich/Max Freeman, 2:42:12.2
  • Open 2WD: Philippe Benoit/Ian Guite, 3:12:54.2