Sunday, September 13th, 2015
Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts, Que., September 13, 2015 – Joël Levac and Stéphanie Lewis of Montreal marked a new high point in their rally career by winning the Rallye Défi, their first-ever victory at a round of the Canadian Rally Championship. Driving a former World Rally Championship MINI, the pair attacked on the first day of the rally, and then slowed on day two when rain contributed to slippery conditions.
“For us, this has been a perfect weekend,” said Levac. “We stuck to the plan of trying to increase our pace from last year, and the result at the end is magical. I want to thank all the people who have helped me on this adventure. It takes so much time and dedication so to win our first event is an amazing feeling.”
During the first day of competition, the team were able to match the times of the eight-time Rallye Défi winner Antoine L’Estage (St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que) and Alan Ockwell (Toronto), of Subaru Rally Team Canada. When conditions became challenging in the rain, L’Estage and Ockwell pressed hard to build a lead until fuel problems forced the team to retire, handing the lead over to Levac and Lewis.
Karel Carré (Laval, Que) and co-driver Philippe Poirier (Quebec, Que) drove a spectacular event to finish second after a challenging battle with season-long regional rivals Jean-Sebastien Besner (Montreal,Que) and Yvan Joyal (Terrebonne, Que). Carré is only in his second year of rallying and Rallye Défi marks his second national level event. The second place finish marks a career-high finish for this talented young driver.
“It’s my second year in rally, so I am getting used to the car and pacenotes and my competitors,” said Carré. “We had a great fight, and Besner has always been a great sportsman, so it is a lot of fun to battle on the stages.”
Besner and Joyal struggled with minor car problems through the event, and despite the pair’s best efforts, they slipped back to third place overall. Besner last finished on the Rallye Défi podium when he won the event in 2001.
“I never take a position for granted when Karel is around,” said Besner, who is also leading a road racing championship. “It’s really nice to be on the podium for the first time since my return to rallying a few years ago, but I would have liked to beat Karel.”
The team of Nicolas Laverdiére (Laval, Que) and Jean-Mathieu Tremblay (Montreal, Que) were consistent in their two-wheel drive Honda, to finish in eighth place. Although the team faced suspension problems on the rough roads used to open the event, they were able to make repairs without having lost a lot of time.
The 2014 Canadian Two-Wheel-Drive champion Simon Dubé (Jonquière, Que) and stand-in co-driver Aaron Crescenti (Glen Gardner, NJ) were leading two-wheel drive until mechanical problems halted their rally on day two. A restart rule allowed the team to continue after making repairs, but incurred heavy penalties forced the team down to tenth place.
The Rallye Défi marks the start of the fall rally season in Canada. Held on roads that snake through the scenic Laurentian mountains surrounding Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts, the event takes place over two days and consists of more than 175kms of competitive sections. As often happens, conditions for the first day were hot and sunny with dust trails kicked up behind each rally car. Overnight, a storm system moved in and rain turned the gravel roads into slick surfaces that caught out many experienced teams.
The Canadian Rally Championship is comprised of six events held nationwide in a season that extends from February to November. The series is presented by Subaru Canada, supported by Yokohama Tire Canada and features a contingency program from Subaru Canada. The Canadian Association of Rallysport (CARS) is the official sanctioning body for rallying in Canada.
Rally car racing is often described simply as “real cars, real roads, real fast.” The all-season motorsport sees drivers and their co-drivers take modified road cars to the limit as they achieve blistering speeds over closed-road courses that typically cover more than 150 kilometers of gravel, dirt or snow-covered roads. Fans can get up close to the cars in the service areas and catch all the action from designated spectator points located at the best spots on the route.
Full coverage of the championship will air on RDS and TSN. Check local listings.
Stay up to date with the Canadian Rally Championship by following the series on social media
Rallye Défi’s final results
1. Joël Levac – Stéphanie Lewis – une heure, 37 minutes, 54.2 secondes
2. Karel Carré – Philippe Poirier – 1:41:58.6
3. Jean-Sebastien Besner – Yvan Joyal – 1:42:46.1
4. Sylvain Vincent – Simon Vincent – 1:45:49.6
5. Marc Bourassa – Daniel Paquette – 1:45:58.3
6. Jeremy Norris – John Hall – 1:46:11.4
7. Martin Bruneau – Anthony Bruneau – 1:56:39.2
8. Nicholas Laverdière – Jean-Mathieu Tremblay – 2:05:03.5
9. Nick Mathew – Kelly Mathew – 2:11:46.0
10. Simon Dubé – Aaron Crescenti – 2:30:15.5
FOR MORE INFORMATION – Canadian Association of Rally Sport offices : (855) 640-6444
Photo Credit: Philip Ericksen