After a two-month break in the Canadian Rally Championship calendar, that was put to good use by Antoine L’Estage and Nathalie Richard as they became the 2010 Rally America Champions and won a bronze medal at the popular ESPN Summer X Games, the Rockstar Energy Drink Royal Group team will be back in competition this weekend for the Rallye Defi (September 10 & 11), round four of six in the Canadian championship. The Quebec team from St-Jean-sur-Richelieu has already won the Rallye Defi on four separate occasions and a victory this weekend would be a new record for this particular event.

Victorious at the Rallye Defi in 2009, Antoine L’Estage and Nathalie Richard are among the heavy favourites at the wheel of their Rockstar Royal Group Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X. “I’m impatiently awaiting the start of Defi, it’s our home event and last year’s win allowed us to tie John Buffum’s record. If we win again this weekend, Nathalie and I will move up into the record books as the only ones with five victories at Defi” mentions Antoine L’Estage, “our current standing in the championship dictates that we have to go for the victory” he adds.

In preparation for the Rallye Defi, the Rockstar Royal Group team tested its Mitsubishi Evo X at the end of August, a test session that went off without a hitch. “The point of our test was to put the car back to our regular rally-spec after making a few adjustments for the X Games in July. I was really happy with the car and it just reinforced my confidence heading into the rally,” explains Antoine, who hopes to continue the momentum after winning the Rally America title and his success at X Games. Another title up for grabs at the Rallye Defi this weekend is that of the overall North American Rally Cup. Antoine and Nathalie’s two closest rivals that qualify for this championship would need to win all remaining Canadian events in order to maintain a mathematical chance of claiming the title. With the unlikelihood of these competitors attending this weekend, the entire Rockstar Royal Group team is heading into Rallye Defi confident of locking-up the title as soon as they start the event.

Contested on dirt and gravel roads in the Ste-Agathe region (Friday) and the Parc Papineau-Labelle (Saturday), the Rallye Defi is known for its challenges. Antoine L’Estage and Nathalie Richard will make use of Yokohama Canada’s newest generation of gravel tires. “Defi is often an unknown in terms of surface conditions, with roads that can be tough on the equipment. The Yokohama tires are new and improved, which allows me to attack these roads worry-free,” adds Antoine.

Antoine L’Estage currently holds two Canadian titles (2006 and 2007), one American (2010), as well as two North American (2007 and 2008) and twenty-two overall victories in Canada and the United States. Co-driver Nathalie Richard has earned five national championships (Canada and USA) and thirty-one rally victories on both sides of the border. She also holds five overall North American Championships.

Antoine L’Estage and Nathalie Richard is the only team to 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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