Canadian Rally Championship on the road again for the 50th year!

Stouffville, ON, February 1, 2006 -- The 50th edition of the Canadian Rally Championship will be launched this week-end with Rallye Perce-Neige Maniwaki, taking place in Maniwaki (Quebec), north of Ottawa.

The only winter event of the year, Perce-Neige is bound to be an epic battle with about 40 entries and no less than 10 teams competing for victory.

Number one contender will be Torontonian Peter Thomson (with co-driver Rod Hendricksen), standing champion and winner of last year's edition. Perce-Neige was his first national win, and he went on to win two more events to clinch the championship.

Runner-up is Antoine L'Estage, who had been leading last year's event until mechanical failure sidelined him. Having lost the 2005 Canadian Rally Championship in the last event of the year, L'Estage is back with his John Buffum-prepared 4WD Tiburon looking to win the title. This year, though, he will team up with American co-driver Mark Williams. Well known for his flamboyant driving style, L'Estage will need to score as many points as possible, because this year all results will count toward the championship, as opposed to last year's four best out of six.

Another point of interest this year will be the return of Sylvain Erickson and Andrew Comrie-Picard, each in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 4. Winner of the Sno*Drift Rally last week in Michigan, Comrie-Picard, co-driven by Marc Goldfarb, is still looking for his first overall win in the Canadian championship. Very spectacular on snow, he will be a strong competitor for Thomson and L'Estage.

On the other hand, Sylvain Erickson, with daughter Chloe in the co-driver's seat, is also a favorite of the crowd, since he was born in Maniwaki and has won the Perce-Neige twice with his Lancer. Perce-Neige has never had a triple winner-- so Erickson is also going for the win and the hat trick.

Other contenders are double champion Jean-Paul Perusse, in a Lancer Evo 6, with co-driver Marcel-Paul Raymond and 2WD expert Jon Nichols in his VW Golf Gti, with co-driver Carl Schenk, with a well-deserved reputation for driving in the snow. Last but not least, six times champions Frank and Dan Sprongl are also back in their Suzuki Swift+.

With its short stages in town and long forest stages, including a 50-km stage, the 2006 Perce-Neige will be quite a challenge for every competitor. The first car will start at 9:30 AM on Saturday, February 4. And the finish should be clocked around 10:30 PM.

The official event program is presently in the stands, in Pole Position Magazine. The rally will be filmed by ATV Productions, for television broadcasting later in the year. Information on the Canadian Rally Championship can be obtained at www.carsrally.ca. Information on the Perce-Neige is at www.rallyeperceneige.com, while results will be posted live at www.rallyscoring.com.

-cars-