Contact: Terry Epp
Tel: (905) 640-6444
Tel: (514) 279-3290
|Date: February 21, 2002|
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
WIDE OPEN CONTEST EXPECTED AT RALLYE PERCE-NEIGE MANIWAKI
MANIWAKI, QUE. - The Rallye Perce-Neige Maniwaki on Saturday promises to be one of Canada's most fiercely contested motorsport competitions of the year.
In the absence of five-time national champion Tom McGeer, who has chosen to skip this event, any one of half-a-dozen different drivers has a realistic chance of winning this second round of the 2002 Subaru Canadian Rally Championship, presented by Yokohama.
Local favorite Sylvain Erickson may be seen by many as the driver to beat. The rally takes place on his home turf - on forestry gravel roads in the Haute Gatineau region of Quebec, to the north of Ottawa. He was born in Maniwaki, the rally headquarters, and now operates a garage in Gatineau.
Driving a Mitsubishi Lancer, Erickson won this event last year after a close battle with McGeer, whose car eventually succumbed to motor problems. Erickson was second to McGeer in the season-opening Rallye de Quebec three weeks ago and a good result here would give him the overall lead in the championship.
But he will face stiff competition from fellow Quebec drivers Jean-Sebastien Besner, of Montreal, also in a Mitsubishi Lancer, and Jon Nichols, of Lachine, in a Subaru Impreza WRX, and from the Subaru Canada duo of Pat Richard, from Whistler, B.C., and John Paynter, of Dartmouth, N.S., both in Impreza WRXs.
While Erickson has won twice before, each of these latter four drivers will be seeking his very first win in a Canadian championship rally, as will regular U.S. visitor Brian Scott in another Mitsubishi Lancer.
Besides Erickson, the one other past winning driver of the Perce-Neige competing again this year is veteran Jean-Paul Perusse, who had victories in 1975 and 1977. Driving a VW Golf, the 58-year-old from Montreal is among the favorites in the Group 2 class (for modified two-wheel-drive cars).
Dan Sprongl, of Mississauga, has won here as a navigator, paired with his brother Frank. This year, in the absence of Frank Sprongl, Dan is doing the driving himself, at the wheel of a Ford Escort Cosworth.
A total of 60 cars are entered in the rally, which begins with a short special stage by the Chateau Logue in Maniwaki at 10 a.m. on Saturday (Feb. 23). The special stages are the competitive, timed portions of the event on roads temporarily closed to the public.
Competitors will then head out of town for the remaining stages on forestry roads in the region. They are expected back in Maniwaki late that evening.
The Rallye Perce-Neige Maniwaki is the oldest winter car rally in Canada, dating from 1964. It has been part of the Canadian championship since 1975.
For further information:
Canadian Association of Rallysport
Terry Epp (905) 640-6444
David Hatter (514) 279-3290