Next weekend, Quebec driver Antoine L’Estage, co-driven by Nathalie Richard, both of St-Jean-sur-Richelieu (QC), will contest the Rallye Defi, a key event in the Canadian and North American rally championships. Reigning North American champions, the L’Estage/Richard duo’s plan is to finish this competition with their Rockstar Royal Group Mitsubishi Evo X at the top of the podium, giving Antoine his fourth Rallye Defi victory and equalling the long-standing record of rally legend John Buffum.

“Defi is an important race to us … It launches the second half of the season and it’s also our home event. It’s the closest rally to where we live and we have plenty of family, friends, and sponsors that come out to support us,” explains Nathalie Richard. The champions’ goal will be two-fold at this rally. “First and foremost we will attempt to reclaim top spot in the Canadian Championship, and the secondary goal is to win the event once again,” she adds.

If Antoine and Nathalie win the 2009 edition of the Rallye Defi, Antoine L’Estage will have accumulated his fourth victory at this event, equalling the Defi record held by the legendary John Buffum, who is also Antoine’s mentor. “John Buffum prepares our Rockstar Royal Group Mitsubishi Evo X so it would be an honour for me to tie his record in a car he built,” highlights Antoine, who anticipates this rally with confidence. “We were very competitive and had a fantastic battle with the current four-time US champion at July’s New England Forest Rally. The car was great and we had an almost perfect rally.” Antoine L’Estage and the entire team now rest assured that the teething problems of their new car, one of only a few in the world, are over. “We have crossed that bridge and we can now fully concentrate on our performance,” confides the Quebec driver.

Taking place in the Laurentians region (Ste-Agathe) on Friday, September 11th and in the Petite Nation region (Montpellier-Duhamel-Ripon) the following day, Mother Nature is often an uncertainty at the Rallye Defi, something that doesn’t bother Antoine L’Estage. “I hope for nice weather for the thousands of spectators that come to support us and the sport but in terms of the competition, rain doesn’t bother me at all. I do well in adverse conditions and I have Yokohama tires that I can trust to do the job regardless of whether it’s wet or dry”. With a reputation as being one of the toughest rallies in North America, the Rallye Defi is also one of the most popular amongst fans and competitors alike. Close to fifty teams will start the first leg of the rally in Ste-Agathe on Friday at 2pm. On Saturday, the competition will resume in the Petite Nation region between 7:30am and 6 pm.

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

Photo: Antoine L’Estage and Nathalie Richard, impressing the crowds at the Rallye Baie-des-Chaleurs.

Photo by Gordon Sleigh



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