Antoine L’Estage and Nathalie Richard, both of St-Jean-sur-Richelieu (QC), will participate in this coming weekend’s Rocky Mountain Rally, the second round of the 2010 Canadian Rally Championship. The Rockstar Energy Drink Royal Group team, who is currently leading the North American Rally Cup as well as the Rally America series, has been on the podium for four of the five rallies so far this season on both sides of the border.

“The Rocky Mountain Rally is one that I’ve competed at every year since 2003, including two outright wins and we’re heading there with confidence. Our Mitsubishi Lance Evo X is really reliable and we have the best line of Yokohama tires for the roads in Kananaskis Country and the Porcupine Hills.” explains Antoine, a two-time Canadian and North American champion.

With the championship title in mind, Antoine and Nathalie are eagerly anticipating jumping back into Canadian competition having just completed the longest break in Canada’s 2010 calendar. “Since the end of the 2009 season, we have improved many little things on the car and all the seat time I have had competing in the entire Rally America series has been fantastic for me,” adds Antoine.

February’s Rallye Perce Neige was the last national event held in Canada. Since then, the Rockstar Royal Group team has been very busy in the premier American championship, Rally America. Their most recent outing was on May 16th at the Oregon Trail Rally, where the team finished third. After a wheel problem early in the rally cost them four and a half minutes and dropped them to 17th overall, L’Estage and Richard charged back, winning a total of eleven of the fifteen competitive stages to climb back to a podium spot. “We were pretty disappointed when we had to stop on stage, knowing it was going to cost us any chance we had at the win,” explains co-driver Richard. “We then agreed we were going to fight to climb as high as we could before the end of the rally and Antoine drove amazingly well in some really dusty conditions, winning all of the remaining stages. He was a man on a mission and it allowed us to keep our championship lead,” she adds.

Antoine L’Estage and Nathalie Richard had initially planned on competing at only four of the six Rally America events this season with the intention of qualifying for their third trip to the Summer X Games in Los Angeles at the end of July. With their successful results, the support of their sponsors, and the efforts of John Buffum’s Libra Racing shop, the duo elected to add the two remaining event to their schedule, all the while not losing focus of their bid for the Canadian title. “The Rally American calendar has more events in the spring while the Canadian Championship is at rest” explains L’Estage. “winning an American championship is something that I’ve often thought about but I never considered it was possible before this year. There’s still two events to go and anything can happen but at the end of the day, we’re tackling three championships this year (Canadian, Rally America, and North American) and we’re in a place where we can eye all three titles”.

Antoine L’Estage has won two Canadian championship titles (2006 and 2007), as well as two North American titles (2007 and 2008) and nineteen overall victories in Canada and the United States. Co-driver Nathalie Richard has earned four national championship titles (two Canadian and two American) and twenty-eight outright rally victories. In 2009, she won her fifth North American Championship for co-drivers.

The 2010 Rocky Mountain Rally starts this Friday, May 28th in downtown Calgary and moves to the Porcupine Hills for Saturday’s competitive stages. A record number of registered teams are expected for this year’s edition.

Antoine L’Estage and Nathalie Richard participate in the entire 2010 Rally America and Canadian Rally Championships with the support of Rockstar Energy Drink, Royal Group, Yokohama Tires, Mitsubishi Canada, Drenth Motorsport Gearboxes, Garrett Turbos, Energie Cardio, Libra Racing, Driver’s Edge Autosport (OMP), and VP Racing Fuels. For more information on the team or on rallying in general, visit Coyote Rallye.



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