by Chris Leone // Website // Twitter
Image via Antoine L’Estage

Another exciting season of Canadian rally kicks off this weekend in Maniwaki, Quebec, with the return of Rallye Perce-Neige to start the 2019 season. With more than two dozen top teams signed up for Friday and Saturday’s stages, we’re sure to see the best of the best from the sport’s best Canadian teams—as well as a handful of American outfits making the trip north.

Most intriguing on the entry list, of course, is the return of former American and Canadian national champion Antoine L’Estage, who only ran an abbreviated schedule in 2018 as Subaru of Canada shifted its priorities for the season. That left the championship wide open for the rest of the field, and it was TEST Racing’s Karel Carre who eventually claimed the top spot over teammate Simon Vincent.

Carre actually enters Perce-Neige as the defending winner, as the 2018 opener was his first of three wins in a five-star, five-podium season. “Crazy” Leo Urlichich was second, and will return this year to try and finish one spot better. Other Canadian notables from last year’s event who will be returning to action in Maniwaki in 2019 include Andre Leblanc (sixth in 2018), Philippe Beniot (who won Rallye Mekinac earlier this month), and Jean-Sebastien Besner (looking to make up for a DNF last year).

In addition, six Americans—three drivers and three co-drivers on four total crews—will be running Perce-Neige. The two all-American crews include Arek Bialobrzeski and Aris Mantopoulos, whose last event saw them take sixth overall and second in class at October’s Lake Superior Performance Rally, and Chris Greenhouse and Ryan Dunham, partnering in the familiar Dodge Neon SRT4. Greenhouse will look to make up for a DNF suffered in this event last year.

At 16 stages of nearly 230 kilometers of racing roads, Perce-Neige will provide competitors with plenty of challenges, even without the frigid temperatures seen through most of North America this week. Recce and shakedown will take place on Friday, while the whole racing portion of the event will take place during a marathon day on Saturday.