pfr07_carspost.jpgL’Estage closes in on a second title

Antoine L’Estage and Nathalie Richard reached a further step in their quest for another Canadian Rally Championship title after winning the Pacific Forest Rally, the fifth round in the 2007 calendar. L’Estage drove the Concerto Yokohama Hyundai masterfully, taking the lead early into the competition on Friday night and increasing the gap right through to the end of the rally. The defending Canadian national champion attributes his decisive victory – by more than six minutes – to an excellent car, wise tire choice and error-free driving in deteriorating conditions. The St-Jean-sur-Richelieu team will arrive at the last event of the season – Ontario’s Rally of the Tall Pines in late November – with a 15-point lead in the Driver’s championship. Finishing anywhere higher than sixth place will guarantee L’Estage back-to-back titles. Nathalie, a multi-time champion in her own right, clinched the Canadian Overall Co-Driver’s Championship with the team’s recent victory in British Columbia.

“The rally really played out in the long stages on the second day of the event,” recalled the winner. “During reconnaissance the day prior to the start of the rally, we found ourselves on several snow covered roads and I knew tire selection would be a critical factor in the competition. We opted for Yokohama snow tires, which were amazing and allowed us to set fantastic stage times. With a Tiburon that was perfectly prepared by John Buffum, in addition to Nathalie’s excellent work, all I needed to do was keep the car on the road to the finish. We took a solid lead and just had to concentrate on getting to the end of competition without making any silly mistakes.”

It’s a twelfth victory for L’Estage in the last 18 Canadian national championship rallies, and his fourth consecutive win in the five events so far this year. Each outright victory earns the team 22 points, giving the defending champion a 15-point cushion at the top of the championship leader board. Even with a Tall Pines victory for his main competitor, L’Estage only needs to finish fifth to maintain his title for the second year in a row. “I’ve won this event twice in the past three years and it’s one that has a special significance to me; I know Nathalie will constantly remind me that we need to drive for the championship and not necessarily the rally win but it’s not always easy to hold back.”

Last meeting of the season : November’s Rally of the Tall Pines

Antoine L’Estage and Nathalie Richard will be present at the start of the last 2007 Canadian event, the Rally of the Tall Pines at the end of November – with the goal of once again winning the title. “This is a very special event,” admits L’Estage. “At that time of year in the forestry roads around Bancroft, Ontario, we never know what Mother Nature has in store, nor what kind of road surface to expect. Reconnaissance prior to the start of the rally is imperative to eliminate as much danger as possible and to gather information for our tire selection. Our Yokohama tires are the best in these difficult conditions and Nathalie excels at reading pacenotes, which gives me the confidence I need to drive the way we do. We have a winning car and a fantastic crew and all that remains is to put the pieces of the puzzle together.”

Antoine L’Estage is the defending 2006 Canadian Rally Champion and is currently leading the overall Canadian and North American championship titles with his co-driver Nathalie Richard. Their next rally will be November 23 and 24 in Bancroft, Ontario, a small town located 70 km west of Ottawa.

Antoine L’Estage participates in the 2007 Canadian Rally Championship thanks to the support of : Hyundai Canada, les Fenêtres Concerto, Yokohama Tires, Énergie Cardio, Libra Racing, OMP Racewear, Belle Gueule beer, Castrol Canada and MBF Racing. For more information, please visit Coyote Rallye, a source for rally and the Coyote Rallye Team.



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