Canadian rally driver, “Crazy Leo” Urlichich will be back in action in February 2017, as he will contest the Rallye Perce-Neige in Maniwaki, Québec.
Leo Urlichich, who competed and won events of the Canadian Rally Championship a few years ago “retired” from rallying after he drove a works M-Sport Fiesta R2 rally car in five rounds of the 2014 FIA World Rally Championship in the WRC3 category as part of the Drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy. That turned out to be a very difficult experience, as Leo needed to change co-drivers four times in five events because of unexpected family problems or medical issues.
Having created and run his own Race Lab Advanced Driving School, Urlichich recently announced that he would be contesting the Rallye Perce-Neige, opening round of the 2017 Canadian Rally Championshipand and the 2017 American Rally Association, February 3-4. The Toronto resident will be driving a Cam-Jam Motorsport entry to be revealed early next year.
Motorsport.com spoke to Leo Urlichich about his return to rallying.
Why this comeback, Leo?
Rally racing is my life, and I'd be back sooner, if I could afford it! Rallying is relatively inexpensive to get into (you can start with decent $3,000 rallycross car), and when your experience and driving skills allow you to play at the sharp end of the field, it's damn pricy! I'm still paying the debt I have because of the bad luck with co-drivers' injuries in WRC's Drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy back in 2014. So I'm back now because there wasn't an opportunity before!
Did you miss rallying? What did you miss the most?
Hell, yes! The thrill of racing at stupid speeds inches away from the trees. Driving at Race Lab - my new advanced driving school - helped somewhat, and I've been getting a lot of rallycross level practice, but it's still not the same. Oh, and I was lucky enough to win Canada's most competitive rallycross championship in a 4WD turbo class, using one of the school cars.
Did your WRC experience make you a better rally driver?
Yes, 100%. The level of difficulty of the roads we used in the WRC was truly eye opening! I've always been pretty quick in the fast stuff, but hated technical sections... simply because I didn't understand how to be fast through them. After WRC's Vodafone Rally de Portugal, I fell in love with the technical stuff! I just wish I didn't have to take two years off between my last World Rally Championship event and the first one back in the Canadian Rally Championship.
What’s your goal for the Perce-Neige?
As always - to go flat out! However, there's some news still in the making, and I'll tell you about it soon enough!
In 2012, Urlichich posted a video that went rival when he and his co-driver Carl Williamson spun their Subaru Impreza STI, called "The Beast", and hit a pole backwards. Amazingly, they managed to continue and claimed second place!