Quebec driver Antoine L’Estage and his co-driver Nathalie Richard finished in second place at this past weekend’s SnoDrift Rally, Round 1 of the Rally America series and the first event of the North American Rally Cup. Held on the icy roads of Michigan’s Montmorency County, this rally presented some of the most treacherous and challenging conditions the teams have ever experienced. The duo from St-Jean-sur-Richelieu (QC), will again be at the wheel of their Rockstar Energy Drink Royal Group Mitsubishi Evo X this coming weekend at the Canadian Rally Championship season opener, Rallye Perce Neige

Antoine L’Estage finished a strong second behind four-time American champion and X Games superstar Travis Pastrana at the SnoDrift Rally, an event that has been won only by these two drivers in the past four years. “To say that these roads were icy would be a huge understatement. Some people attributed faster times to the guy that was first on the road (Pastrana) with a bit better traction but he drove a great rally and was the fastest out there. I tried to keep the pressure on at the start of Saturday morning’s competition but I also didn’t want to take any huge risks in those conditions” commented L’Estage.

Antoine and his five-time North American champion co-driver Nathalie Richard set the fastest time on five of the competitive road sections. This strong finish earned L’Estage valuable points towards qualifying for his third trip to the Summer X Games, to be held this August in Los Angeles. It also marks important points for the North American rally championship, a title that L’Estage already won in 2007 and 2008.

“So many times throughout the rally I was in awe of Antoine’s driving. I very rarely get scared in the rally car but in talking with some of the other top co-drivers, this was definitely the scariest event for us – it was like we were all at the mercy of the ice! I thought that Antoine was just amazing going those speeds and keeping it on the road without getting even a scratch on the car,” confessed Richard, L’Estage’s co-driver since 2006. “It’s one of those rallies that we’ll remember for a long time.”

The team’s focus will now shift a little north to the Maniwaki region of Quebec for the Rallye Perce Neige on February 5 & 6, the first round of the Canadian Rally Championship. L’Estage and Richard won this event the past two years and are very confident coming into their second winter rally in as many weekends. Although L’Estage hopes for more snow to fall between now and the start of the event, he will again rely on his Yokohama tires regardless of what Mother Nature decides.

Antoine L’Estage and Nathalie Richard participate in the 2010 Canadian Rally Championship 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 drive to a second place finish at Michigan’s SnoDrift Rally.
Credit : Neil McDaid



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