Antoine L’Estage and Nathalie Richard, of St-Jean-sur-Richelieu (QC), won this past weekend’s Rally of the Tall Pines, the final round of the 2010 Canadian Rally Championship. At the wheel of their Rockstar Royal Group Mitsubishi Evo X, L’Estage and Richard lead the race from the very beginning and never looked back, sealing their position by a margin of over ten minutes. This victory also clinched for them the 2010 Canadian Rally Championship title, which, in conjunction with the Rally America championship (United States) and the North American Rally Cup claimed earlier in the season, earns L’Estage and Richard the coveted “Triple Crown”.

The Rockstar Royal Group team arrived to the rally in Bancroft with a two-point lead in the championship. Confident with their chances, Antoine L’Estage and Nathalie Richard planned on pushing hard right from the start in order to build up a lead ahead of their main rivals. And that’s exactly what they did as they won the first competitive stage by nine seconds. “We followed our game plan to perfection; go fast without hurting the car,” confides Antoine L’Estage, “Tall Pines is a very tricky and difficult event. That held true for this year particularly because with dry road conditions, speeds get very high and the jumps multiply. Several teams had accidents and flat tires but that wasn’t the case for us. I drove a clean rally, Nathalie was fantastic, and after pushing hard in the morning we just focussed on managing our lead without taking risks. Our car was flawlessly prepared and our Yokohama tires were worry-free. It’s what you could call a perfect rally,” adds the champion.

This success earned Antoine L’Estage and Nathalie Richard their third Canadian Championship title. Aside from this overall championship, the duo is also awarded the 2010 Open Class Championship and the coveted “Triple Crown” given to a team winning the North American, American, and Canadian titles in the same year. Antoine is only the second driver in history to achieve this. As for Nathalie Richard. she claimed the Triple Crown honours in 2004, which makes her now the only competitor to have done it twice.

“We are a private team with a limited budget. We are very proud of what our small team has been able to achieve against several manufacturers’ teams on both sides of the border. I owe a big thanks to John Buffum and our mechanics as well as commercial partners,” indicates Antoine L’Estage. “We worked extremely hard all season and our Mitsubishi Evo X was super reliable at every rally. We finished every one of our twelve national rallies this year, including six victories and four other podiums,” states co-driver Nathalie Richard.

Already three-time North American champion (2007, 2008, 2010), Antoine L’Estage also conquered his third Canadian title (2006, 2007, 2010). He is the reigning champion in the premier American rally series and he has won twenty-five national rallies to date. Nathalie Richard holds six overall national championship titles (3 in Canada and 3 in the USA), as well as thirty-one overall rally wins on both sides of the border. She is also six-time North American Co-Driving Champion (2004 – 2010, excluding 2006).

After an extremely successful year, the Rockstar Royal Group team will return to competition in January 2011. The team’s plans and partnership details are to be announced at a later date.

Antoine L’Estage and Nathalie Richard make up the only team to have participated 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 .

Action photos: Claude Lamoureux
Antoine & Nathalie photo: Mat Janiak



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