Invincible in a Full Year of the Canadian Rally Championship…

Leaders of the Canadian Rally Championship and the North American Rally Cup heading into this weekend’s Rallye Defi, Quebec driver Antoine L’Estage (of St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, QC) and his co-driver Nathalie Richard (of Halifax, NS) had a problem-free performance, which was capped off with the overall victory. In doing so, they set a new record of six wins at this particular event and clinched the 2011 North American Rally championship. Unbeatable in a full year of Canadian Rally Championship competition, the Rockstar Royal Group duo just earned their seventh consecutive win in the series.

The Rockstar Royal Group team arrived with a lot of confidence to the start of this rally, one of the most popular in North America but also one of the most demanding with twenty-three competitive stages over two full days in the Laurentides and Outaouais regions of Quebec. This confidence was translated into the best imaginable result for Antoine L’Estage and Nathalie Richard. “We won the first stage by 9 seconds and maintained the lead right through to the end of the rally, winning by over three and a half minutes,” explains Antoine.

This victory clinched the 2011 North American championship for Antoine and Nathalie with two events remaining in the series. As for the Canadian Rally Championship title, the Rockstar Royal Group team was able to double their lead to forty-one points over the second place team. “Winning the North American Rally Cup is one of our goals at the start of each season. We’re both very happy as this marks my fourth NARC title and Nathalie’s seventh, which ties her for the all-time co-driving record!” shares the Quebec driver, who adds, “We can’t celebrate 2011 Canadian Rally Championship honours but it puts us in a very comfortable position heading into the two remaining events.”

The layout of the 2011 edition of the Rallye Defi once again allowed the Rockstar Royal Group team to demonstrate just how well John Buffum and Libra Racing have prepared a strong and reliable Lancer Evo X, as explains Nathalie Richard: “This is a great win for our entire team. Our car was perfect from the first kilometer to the very last. Knowing that we can focus on our jobs inside the car without having to worry about whether the car can take the beating, makes it easier for us and is a testament to our three mechanics.”

On the tricky Rallye Defi roads, the Rockstar Royal Group team also benefited from their lineup of Yokohama tires. “The tires were definitely a factor in our victory. Several other teams suffered from flats during the rally but it was never an issue for us and I have to say that I was once again very impressed with the performance and quality of my Yokohama Tires,” confides Antoine L’Estage.

Antoine L’Estage holds four North American championship titles (2007, 2008, 2010 and 2011), three Canadian titles (2006, 2007 and 2010), one American title (2010), and thirty-one overall victories in Canada and the US. Nathalie Richard holds six overall national championship titles (3 in Canada and 3 in the USA), as well as thirty-seven overall rally wins on both sides of the border. She is also a seven-time North American Co-Driving Champion (2004 – 2011, excluding 2006).

Antoine L’Estage and Nathalie Richard participate in the 2011 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), VP Racing Fuels, Exe-Tc Suspensions and Hawk Performance Brake Pads. For more information on the team or on rallying in general, visit antoinelestage.com.

Photo Credit (podium): Rockstar Concerto Team
Photo Credit (action shot): Melina Lamoureux / WorldRallySport

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