Quebec driver Antoine L’Estage and his co-driver Nathalie Richard finished in second place at this past weekend’s Rally in the 100 Acre Wood, Round 2 of the Rally America series and the third event counting towards the North American Rally Cup. After a strong second place finish at the first round of the year, the duo from St-Jean-sur-Richelieu (Qc) arrived to the two-day gravel rally in Missouri five points behind the series leader. Driving their Rockstar Energy Drink Royal Group Mitsubishi Evo X to another second place finish this past weekend vaulted the team into top spot on the leaderboard.
Antoine L’Estage finished 21 seconds behind Ken Block, who earned his fifth consecutive victory at this particular rally. “At the end of Friday night, we were comfortably in second place, over forty seconds ahead of Ken. Our plan Saturday morning was to push hard and close the gap between us and first place (Travis Pastrana). On the second stage of the morning, we drove through a watersplash and our windshield completely fogged up, forcing us to stop on the stage. That and a subsequent puncture on the same stage cost us almost a minute and a half, and dropped us down to third place,” explained L’Estage. “Travis eventually didn’t finish the rally and we were unable to make back the time we had lost earlier in the day. We went to the rally with the intentions of winning it and the same still applied for the next event” he added.
“We often don’t know what to expect in terms of weather or road conditions at the Rally in the 100 Acre Wood so to be fully prepared, we brought many different reliable Yokohama tires with us. The speeds were really fast on most of those stages and when big rocks get pulled out onto the driving line, they’re sometimes unavoidable. We got caught out twice but it’s just part of the sport,” commented co-driver Nathalie Richard.
Antoine and his five-time North American champion co-driver Nathalie Richard set the fastest time on four of the competitive road sections. This podium finish almost guarantees L’Estage an invitation for his third trip to the ESPN Summer X Games, to be held this August in Los Angeles. It also marks important points for the North American Rally Cup, a championship that L’Estage and Richard are also currently leading. Winning this year would be Antoine’s third North American title in four years.
With the Rally America series lead, and no damage to the competition vehicle, L’Estage and Richard would like to travel out west to Round 3 of the championship, the Olympus Rally, in April. L’Estage has never competed at this Olympia, Washington event but hopes to add the rally to their 2010 programme.
Antoine L’Estage holds two Canadian Championship titles (2006 and 2007), as well as two North American titles (2007 and 2008) and a total of 19 overall victories on both sides of the border. As for Nathalie, she has four national championship titles (Canada and USA) and twenty-eight overall victories. In 2009, Nathalie was crowned North American Rally Champion for an impressive fifth time.
Antoine L’Estage and Nathalie Richard participate in the 2010 Canadian Rally Championship and select Rally America events with the support of Rockstar Energy Drink, Royal Group, Yokohama Tires, Mitsubishi Canada, Drenth Motorsport Gearboxes, 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 : Antoine L’Estage and Nathalie Richard, leaders of the Rally America series and North American Rally Championships
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