Quebec driver Antoine L’Estage and his co-driver Nathalie Richard, both of St-Jean-sur-Richelieu (Qc), will compete at this weekend’s Rally in the 100 Acre Wood, Round 2 of the Rally America series. After a well-deserved second place finish at Michigan’s SnoDrift Rally last month, this trip to Salem, Missouri will be the Rockstar Energy Drink/Royal Group team’s second voyage south of the border this year.

Antoine L’Estage, two-time Canadian and two-time North American rally champion, is heading to Missouri with one main goal : qualifying for the dynamic ESPN Summer X Games to be held in Los Angeles this coming August. “In addition to the entire Canadian Rally Championship, our calendar includes a minimum of four Rally America events in order to maximize our chances of being invited to this year’s X Games. ” he explains. “I competed at the X Games two years in a row but missed out on last year’s. After our second place finish in Michigan in January, there’s a good possibility of placing well in the overall championship hunt too and we’ll take every opportunity to acquire critical points towards that, as well as taking home victories. ” adds the Quebec driver.

This will be the second time in three years that the L’Estage/Richard duo will take to the start of the Rally in the 100 Acre Wood. While the rally is normally run on gravel roads, Mother Nature was a force to be reckoned with, leaving snow and ice-covered roads during the past two years of competition. “Whatever the conditions and road surfaces, we have a fantastic lineup of Yokohama tires to rely on. We are very motivated and are looking forward to Friday’s start. The few modifications that have been made to our Rockstar Energy Drink Royal Group Mitsubishi will allow us to continue to be amongst the fastest teams out there ” added the Quebec driver.

Five-time and reigning North American champion co-driver, Nathalie Richard, is also anxious to get back in the rally car : “As always, I have a lot of confidence in Antoine’s driving ability. Similarly to in Canada, competition is really strong again this year in the United States – we compete head to head with some really big manufacturer teams and we’ve proven to be right alongside them in terms of competitiveness and speed. The team’s ready, the car is reliable, and we’re aiming for the victory ” she mentions.

The Rockstar Royal Group team’s 2010 program includes the entire Canadian Rally Championship and four of six rounds in the Rally America series. Antoine L’Estage has two Canadian Championship titles (2006 and 2007), as well as two North American Rally Championship titles (2007 and 2008) and nineteen overall national victories in Canada and the US. Last year, he and Nathalie Richard were awarded the Bertrand-Fabi Trophy, which recognizes motorsports driving excellence and international exposure. Nathalie has four national titles (two Canadian and two American) as well as twenty-eight overall national victories. In 2009, she won her fifth North American Rally Championship title in six years.

Antoine L’Estage and Nathalie Richard participate in the 2009 Canadian Rally Championship with the support of Rockstar Energy Drink, Royal Group, Yokohama Tires, Mitsubishi Canada, Garrett Turbos, Energie Cardio, Libra Racing, OMP Racewear and MBF Racing. For more information on the team or on rallying in general, visit Coyote Rallye .

Photo : A.L’Estage and N.Richard thrilling the spectators while leading the Rallye Perce-Neige 2010.

Photo credit : Maxime Poirier

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