The first round of the Canadian Rally Championship will be held this weekend in Maniwaki, Quebec, capital city of the Upper Ottawa Valley. Standings will be reset for the fifty-six entries that will take to the harsh logging roads that this event is famous for. Mitsubishi will have ten teams vying for national titles, among them Canadian vice-champions and 2009 defending winners Antoine L’Estage and co-driver Nathalie Richard from St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, in their 09 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution.

For some teams, the season kicked off last week in Michigan where Mitsubishi earned three of the top four places at the Snowdrift Rally, the first event on the Rally America calendar, with L’Estage coming in second and Andrew Comrie-Picard, defending North American champion taking fourth place in his Lancer Evolution 9 with co-driver Jeremy Wimpey.

This weekend, in addition to these two star drivers, the Mitsubishi brigade will have Top 5 contenders with Simon Losier and Francois Morin steering their Evolution 8, Mathieu L’Estage and Yanick Napert in their Evolution 4, and Martin and Patrick Losier in their Synchro Racing entry. Jan and Jody Zedril from Winnipeg, three-time Canadian 2WD champions, will seek another title in their Lancer.

Competition will also be fierce in the new Production Sport class between the two Mitsubishi entries of driver Jeffrey Dowell partnered with Yavor Klostranec and Philip Deans and teammate Carmel Burke in stock Lancers. The only female driver, Michelle Laframboise will start her Evolution 4 from 39th place with co-driver Dave Getchell and the Picton, Ontario crew of Ian Crerar and Doug Draper will complete the Mitsubishi brigade.

“Hopes are running high amongst our teams as they try to reach their goals in 2010. We trust our rally program, now in its third season, will help them fulfill their dreams,” said Kogi Soga, President and CEO of Mitsubishi Motor Sales of Canada Inc. “Mitsubishi has a long standing motorsport tradition and we know these teams can add their names to the honour list.”

Rallye Perce-Neige : profile
The first round of the season, Rallye Perce-Neige, ran first in 1964 and moved to Maniwaki in late 1970. This annual ice, snow and drift fest will showcase 14 speed sections totalling 201 kilometres included in the 425 kilometre trek over 14 hours. The 56-car grid will leave Maniwaki Saturday morning at 9:30 am only to return around midnight. Road conditions are reported as hard packed snow over ice : crews will be able to drive in convoy through the speed stages Friday to witness the conditions.
More information is available at www.rallyeperceneige.com.

Antoine L’Estage and co-driver Nathalie Richard (left) on the podium in 2009 after their outright victory in their Lancer Evolution. Jan and Jody Zedril, the returning Canadian 2WD and Group 2 champions.

Credit : Philip Ericksen

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