Leblanc Brothers Launch Comeback in OPRC Opener

Andre and Rene Leblanc won the Ontario Performance Rally Championship season opener at Rallye Perce Neige in Maniwaki, Quebec.

The pair spent much of the rally battling with fellow siblings Alexandre and Nicholas Ouellette, and the two sets of brothers traded stage times throughout the day. But in the end, the consistency of the Leblancs paid dividends, and the brothers walked away with their second ever regional victory at Rallye Perce Neige.

The Ouellettes, last year's regional winners, also drove a relatively clean rally en route to a very impressive second place finish. They were actually leading up until the first pass of the Kitigan Zibi stage, but the Leblanc brothers used the 33KM stage to erase the minute lead of the Ouellettes', and create a forty second lead of their own.

With the Leblancs never looking back, Alexandre and Nicolas had to settle for the runner-up spot.

Third place went to returning series veteran and former Ontario champion Warren Haywood. The Tonik Motorsports driver's experience, along with that of co-driver John Merry, paid off as he stayed on the road and largely out of trouble. Haywood and the rest of the Tonik team got very little sleep in the two weeks leading up to the rally, as much of the preparation work to rebuild the car was done during that time.

The only blemish on Haywood's careful approach occurred when he lost third gear in the latter half of the rally, jamming the transmission into second. While this didn't help his stage times, it certainly didn't hurt his overall result.

Jeremy Carle and Logan McAlear looked set to claim a podium position of their own before a mistake on the last loop of stages cost them a chance at a top three spot. However, the second Tonik Motorsports crew showed some of their best speed to date at Perce Neige, and had run very consistently up until their off.

Martin Walter and Ferdinand Trauttmansdorff came home first in the 2wd category to go with their second place on the national podium. Last year's 2wd champions pushed through several encounters with Perce Neige's many snow banks to bring their Nissan 240SX home in first.

Kurt Thiel and Russell Norton took second place in their 1988 VW Golf GTI. The New York based crew beat out third place finishers Chris Krepski and Sébastien Richard, driving a 1991 Golf.

The Ontario Performance Rally Championship returns to action much sooner than the Canadian Rally Championship, with the Shannonville Stages rally being held on April 12th. Shannonville of course follows a slightly different format than other rally events, with the majority of the action taking place on a racetrack as opposed to forest stages.