A STRONG TEAM FINISH
New Richmond (Quebec), July 1, 2008 -- Antoine L'Estage and Nathalie Richard, from St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, finished on the podium at this past weekend's Rallye Baie-des-Chaleurs. Hampered by mechanical problems during the event's first leg of competition on Friday night, they made a brilliant comeback from sixth place to finish in third. This strong finish gives the duo the lead in the North American Rally Cup and keeps them in the hunt for the 2008 Canadian Rally Championship title.
Winners of the event's first competitive stage and leading the rally heading into the third stage, Antoine L'Estage and Nathalie Richard suffered a broken rear left suspension in the fast section of the stage, losing two and a half minutes as they limped to the first service. " We didn't hit anything when the trailing arm broke, explains Antoine, it's hard to accept when something like that happens " A problem with the turbo connection during the remaining three stages of the night lost them another minute and a half and dropped the team to sixth place.
Antoine L'Estage has won the Rallye Baie-des-Chaleurs twice in the past three years, each time after building up a hefty lead on the Friday night. This time, the scenario was different " Our service crew did exceptional work in order to repair the rally car and give it back to me in a perfect state in order to push hard on Saturday. " explains the driver, " We attacked right from the start of the day and clocked the fastest time on the two longest stages of the rally " he adds.
At the end of a worry-free day, Antoine L'Estage and Nathalie Richard jumped from sixth to third place overall. Since the winner of the event, Californian Ken Block, is not registered in the Canadian Championship, the Royal Group Yokohama Hyundai team therefore earns second place points. " It's really a team podium finish; our mechanics worked so well to keep us in the event and to finish third is thanks to their great effort. " concludes Antoine L'Estage.
" Nothing in the championship is decided yet, we're just at the mid-way point in the season and three rallies remain, all of which we won last year. We'll try to repeat that again this year. " adds Nathalie Richard.
Next Rally: Maine in less than two weeks
Winners of the last round of the Rally America series three weeks ago in Pennsylvania, the Coyote Rallye team will return to the United States in less than two weeks to compete in the New England Forest Rally. This event acts as a wild card competition for the remaining invitation to X Games 14, held in Los Angeles this August. L'Estage and Richard's two American victories this year have already secured them a spot at X Games, known as "the Olympics of extreme sports".
Next Canadian Event
The next round of the Canadian Rally Championship is the Rallye Defi, in the Laurentians (Ste-Agathe) and Petite Nation (Montpellier) regions of Quebec. This is the fourth event in the Canadian calendar and Antoine L'Estage will attempt to win it for a fourth consecutive year, equaling the current event record held by the legendary John Buffum.
-credit: Coyote Rallye