Quebec driver Antoine L’Estage (of St-Jean-sur-Richelieu) and his co-driver Nathalie Richard (of Halifax, Nova Scotia) head to Portland, Oregon for Round 3 of the Rally America series, the Oregon Trail Rally. After a great start to the 2012 season with a win and a second place finish at the first two North American events, mechanical failure sidelined the team in Missouri last February while they were less than three seconds behind eventual winners Ken Block and Alex Gelsomino. L’Estage and Richard are now ready to redeem themselves in Oregon, which marks the end of the longest break in the team’s 2012 program.

“I really enjoy this rally – it’s a long week but there are some great roads with a mix of technical sections and fast sections. A clean run at this event has eluded us so far but I’m hoping this year will be it” admits L’Estage, who needs strong points to keep his championship hopes alive after the team’s DNF at the Rally in the 100 Acre Wood. “We tested the car the other day and everybody on the team is really pleased with it. We’re ready !”. Last year, extremely heavy rains resulted in the unusual decision of cancelling some stages that were deemed impassable. The weather can be unpredictable but with their impressive selection of Yokohama Tires, the Rockstar Energy Drink rally team is prepared for what Mother Nature throws their way.

Reigning Canadian and North American champions, Antoine and Nathalie always head into an event with their eyes on the grand prize. In Oregon, victory remains the goal while the lead-up to the rally takes on a bit of a different flair. “This rally is unlike most others on our calendar in that we’re away from home for a little longer but it’s with the intention of trying to please the rally fans as much as we can!” confides co-driver Richard. The teams will do a reconnaissance of the roads all day Wednesday, head to the Fan Appreciation Day at the Pioneer Square Courthouse in downtown Portland for several hours midday Thursday, followed by a media event later that afternoon. “Friday is fantastic for the spectators because they can come to Portland International Raceway and watch us compete on some tarmac and dirt roads in a fairly confined area, which facilitates things for them and always generates a good turnout.” The rally then continues on Saturday and Sunday in The Dalles and Dufur areas of Oregon on more traditional competition roads.

Antoine L’Estage holds four North American championship titles (2007, 2008, 2010, 2011), four Canadian titles (2006, 2007, 2010, 2011), one American title (2010), and thirty-two overall victories in Canada and the US. Nathalie Richard holds seven overall national championship titles (4 Canadian and 3 American), as well as thirty-eight overall rally wins on both sides of the border. She also holds a record seven North American Co-Driving Championship titles (2004 – 2011, excluding 2006).

Watch the Rockstar Energy Drink team’s respective Facebook (Antoine L’Estage Rallye, Nathalie Richard *Rally*) and Twitter (@AntoineLEstage, @NathalieRally) accounts for the release of videos, updates, and information.

Antoine L’Estage and Nathalie Richard participate in the 2012 Rally America and Canadian Rally Championships with the support of Rockstar Energy Drink, Formica Group, Fenetres Concerto, Mitsubishi Canada, Yokohama Tires, Drenth Motorsport Gearboxes, Garrett Turbos, Energie Cardio, VP Racing Fuels, Exe-Tc Suspensions, Hawk Performance Brake Pads, Driver’s Edge Autosport, and Libra Racing. For more information on the team or on rallying in general, visit antoinelestage.com.

Photo : Antoine L’Estage and Nathalie Richard in action during Round 2 of the Rally America championship in Missouri last February. Photo Credit : Remigiusz Olszewski.

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