Quebec driver Antoine L’Estage (of St-Jean-sur-Richelieu) and his co-driver Nathalie Richard (of Halifax, Nova Scotia) lead this weekend’s New England Forest Rally from start to finish, winning the penultimate round of the 2012 Rally Ameria series for the third consecutive year. This is the Rockstar Energy Drink Rally Team’s fourth victory in a row in less than two months, making their bid for yet another North American Rally Championship title virtually unbeatable.
At the wheel of their Mitsubishi Evo X, Antoine L’Estage and Nathalie Richard dominated the 2012 New England Forest Rally, setting the fastest time on the first competitive stage of the event and were not catchable from that point on. This success followed a perfect strategy. “It was insanely hot so the roads were very dusty. We started the rally as first car on the road, which allowed us to avoid the dust but it also meant that we had to sweep all the loose gravel for the cars behind us, which ended up being the lesser of two evils,” comments Nathalie Richard. “After the second forest stage on Friday, each team was given an extra ‘dust minute’ window for the remainder of the rally, which eliminated the visibility problems for the others but we still had to do the sweeping. Despite that, we completed our mission and the entire Rockstar Energy Drink team did a great job, the car was again perfect, as were the Yokohama tires,” adds the co-driver from Nova Scotia.
This is the third year in a row that reigning Canadian and North American champions Antoine L’Estage and Nathalie Richard win the New England Forest Rally. “Along with the Rallye Defi in September, NEFR is like my home event. We’re not at all far from Quebec and I’ve been coming here for years. It’s a great rally with fun new roads and I’m proud that we were able to win here again and mark our fourth victory in a row this year, including the Canadian events two weeks ago and at the end of May. To top it off, the icing on the cake this weekend was smashing the record for the Concord Pond stage,” indicates L’Estage.
This fantastic result further increases Antoine L’Estage and Nathalie Richard’s lead in the North American Rally Cup. However, with the team’s two American DNFs earlier in the season and only one event left in this year’s Rally America series, the Rockstar duo’s British rivals can no longer be caught in the title hunt. “I want to congratulate David Higgins, his co-driver Craig Drew, and their entire team for their 2012 Rally America title. They are great competitors and our battles are always intense but remain fun and very sportsmanlike” indicates Antoine L’Estage.
Antoine L’Estage holds four North American championship titles (2007, 2008, 2010, 2011), four Canadian titles (2006, 2007, 2010, 2011), one American title (2010), and thirty-six overall victories in Canada and the US. Nathalie Richard holds seven overall national championship titles (2011, 2010, 2007, 2004 in Canada and 2010, 2005, 2004 in the US), as well as forty-two overall rally wins on both sides of the border. She also holds a record seven North American Co-Driving Championship titles (2004 – 2011, excluding 2006).
Antoine L’Estage and Nathalie Richard participate in the 2012 Rally America and Canadian Rally Championships with the support of Rockstar Energy Drink, Formica Group, Fenetres Concerto, Mitsubishi Canada, Yokohama Tires, Drenth Motorsport Gearboxes, Energie Cardio, VP Racing Fuels, Exe-Tc Suspensions, Hawk Performance Brake Pads, Driver’s Edge Autosport, and Libra Racing. For more information on the team or on rallying in general, visit antoinelestage.com.
Photo: Antoine L’Estage and Nathalie Richard, winners of the 2012 New England Forest Rally, by Mat Janiak