Perce-Neige season opener summary

AFTER A HARD FOUGHT BATTLE... ... Antoine L'Estage wins Perce-Neige Maniwaki, QC , February 5, 2006 -- Set on the icy roads of Maniwaki, north of Ottawa, the 41st edition of the Perce-Neige Maniwaki Rally was the stage of an epic battle ...

AFTER A HARD FOUGHT BATTLE...

... Antoine L'Estage wins Perce-Neige

Maniwaki, QC , February 5, 2006 -- Set on the icy roads of Maniwaki, north of Ottawa, the 41st edition of the Perce-Neige Maniwaki Rally was the stage of an epic battle between two-times winner Sylvain Erickson and daughter Chloe, in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 4, and would-be winner Antoine L'Estage and Mark Williams, in a Hyundai Tiburon 4WD.

Right from the start, Sylvain Erickson pulled ahead toward a third win in what is known as the Great White Adventure, the only winter rally in the Canadian championship. After building a 3 minute lead over L'Estage/Williams during the course of the rally, the Erickson team suffered a clutch problem in the very last stage that destroyed all hopes of victory. Antoine L'Estage and Mark Williams took over the lead for the first time in the rally and won the event by a 45 second margin.

Spectators witnessed another great duel for third place, between Jon Nichols/Carl Schenk, in a VW Golf GTI, and Frank and Dan Sprongl, in a Suzuki Swift +. During the long forest stages, these two teams even managed to beat the leaders in 4WD cars. In the end, the Sprongl brothers edged out Nichols/Schenk by 13 seconds.

The next five cars in the top 10 were all Subarus, led by Philippe Dube/Daniel Paquette, in an Impreza L; followed by BC team Norm Leblanc/Keith Morison; Quebeckers Marc Bourassa/Jeremy Levert and Martin Losier/B.Gilles Lacroix and Americans Ted and Lise Mendham. All four latter teams in Impreza WRXs.

Last year's winners, Peter Thomson and Rod Hendricksen, were eliminated early, going off-road twice in the first part of the rally. Andrew Comrie-Picard, another favorite since his win at the Sno*Drift Rally last week, also went off as the result of a steering failure.

The Perce-Neige Maniwaki Rally is the first event of the 50th season of the Canadian Rally Championship. All information pertaining to the series and the competitors is available on the Canadian Association of Rallysport website, at www.carsrally.ca.

<pre> Perce-Neige Final Results (complete results on www.rallyscoring.com) :

1)  Antoine L'Estage, Mark Williams             Hyundaï Tiburon 4WD     2h28'25"
2)  Sylvain Erickson, Chloe Erickson            Mitsubishi Lancer Evo.4 2h29'10"
3)  Frank Sprongl, Dan Sprongl                  Suzuki Swift+           2h35'36"
4)  Jon Nichols, Carl Schenk                    Volkswagen Golf GTI     2h35'49"
5)  Philippe Dube, Daniel Paquette              Subaru Impreza L        2h42'32"
6)  Norm LeBlanc, Keith Morison                 Subaru Impreza WRX      2h43'12"
7)  Marc Bourassa, Jeremy Levert                Subaru Impreza WRX      2h43'23"
8)  Martin Losier, B.Gilles Lacroix             Subaru Impreza WRX      2h45'31"
9)  Ted Mendham, Lise Mendham                   Subaru Impreza WRX      2h49'08"
10) Jean-Paul Perusse, Marcel-Paul Raymond      Mitsubishi Lancer Evo.6 2h51'18"

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