Vincent Wins Defi OPRC Regional, Takes Over Series Lead

Simon Vincent returned to the top step of an OPRC podium for the first time since the season opener at Rallye Perce Neige. Using the preceding day's national stages to get into the rhythm, Vincent got the kind of start he's been seeking all season.

Vincent and co-driver Hubert Gaudreau's only real challenge came from Jean-Sébastien Besner, who won the first regional stage. But that stage turned out to be the only one Besner would run, retiring early in the rally after suffering an off. From there, Vincent rode raw pace to the first overall position.

"The day went perfect for me," Vincent recalled, "It puts me in a great position for the last round of the OPRC at Tall Pines so I'm really looking forward to that final round and I hope to become champion of the OPRC in 2016 - that's my goal."

The battle for second place started out as a three-way fight between Pat Rainville, Bruno Laverdière and Justin Bayliff. But mechanical problems for Rainville lead to his retirement, leaving the Mitsubishi teams of Laverdière and Bayliff to battle for the runner-up spot.

Looking to put himself into the best position going into the season finale, Bruno Laverdière pushed hard to stay ahead of the charging Bayliff. And in the end, his persistence paid off. Laverdière and Pat Lévesque finished in the runner-up spot.

"I started a bit slow," Laverdière admitted, "Then it got better during the day, and the feeling with the car was better. Whatever the result, I had a good time."

Justin Bayliff and Chrissy Bayliff rounded out the podium in their first trip to Rallye Defi. The Australian crew showed good pace throughout the rally, but Bruno Laverdière's experience proved to be the difference maker.

"The roads were great, we got faster and faster as the day went on," Justin remarked, "it was really, really good - we had a great time."

In 2WD, Philippe Benoit and Maxime Fortin-Gagnon finished first in class - once again putting on a clinic in their Mini Cooper. The pair had a good battle for the lead with Nicolas Laverdière, but eventually pulled away as the day wore on.

Laverdière and Vincent Trudel finished on the second step after a solid event. At several points during the rally, Nicolas demonstrated astounding pace in his Honda Civic - perhaps a sign of things to come in future rallies. And returning to gravel for the first time since the 2014 edition of Rallye Defi, Chris Krepski rounded out the podium, with reigning champion Jeff Hagan calling his pacenotes.

With his victory, Simon Vincent moves ahead of Bruno Laverdière for the series lead, meaning that the OPRC Championship once again comes down to the final round - The Rally of the Tall Pines. Vincent simply needs to finish at Pines to clinch title. Without a doubt, however, Bruno Laverdière will be pushing hard to maximize his chances of a championship of his own should Vincent run into trouble.