L'ESTAGE AND RICHARD PLAN TO INCREASE THEIR LEAD
A fourth consecutive win for the Concerto Yokohama Hyundai?
St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, October 16, 2007 -- In the fifth round of the 2007 Canadian Rally Championship, Antoine L'Estage and his co-driver Nathalie Richard will attempt to solidify their lead in the hunt for the championship title as they take to the start of the Pacific Forest Rally in Merritt, BC later this week. L'Estage is currently seven points ahead of his nearest competitor and plans to increase this cushion before heading into the final round in Ontario at the end of November. The defending Canadian Champion will be competing on familiar ground, claiming victory in Merritt in 2005, as did Nathalie in 2004. The duo from St-Jean-sur-Richelieu will take advantage of having a very competitive Concerto Yokohama Hyundai as well as the two-pass reconnaissance of the stage roads prior to the start. The main factor in this race that can not be controlled is the weather - rain is not uncommon at this rally, which causes the dirt roads around Merritt to transform into an extremely slippery racing surface.
" PFR is a really nice rally that becomes a huge challenge if Mother Nature dishes us rain, admits L'Estage. The roads become just as slippery as winter roads covered in ice or snow! Luckily, we have our Yokohama tires to help us keep the traction. In addition, Nathalie will use the reconnaissance time to adapt our notes accordingly to point out the dangerous and tricky areas. The Concerto Yokohama Hyundai has been revised since the Defi rally last month and we definitely have a winning car. Our objective is to increase our lead over second place but if our main competitors in the championship don't finish the rally or suffer big problems, the title could be in our pockets. Having said that, we expect the final showdown to be at the Rally of the Tall Pines in Ontario at the end of November. "
154 kilometers of speed over two days
There will be two days of road reconnaissance on Thursday afternoon and Friday morning before the technical inspection. The start will take place on Friday evening, giving seven special stages heading into the night. Saturday will restart at 9am and will continue all day until 6pm. All in all, about 500 kilometers will be drawn out over almost 20 special stages. " There are always several spectator stages at this rally, recounts L'Estage, and it's also one of the rallies with the most night stages. We're thrilled to be using almost all of the same roads as last year, when we had excellent notes and a pretty fast rhythm. It's important for us to maximize our points from this rally in order to be in the best possible situation going into the season's last event. "
Antoine L'Estage is the defending 2006 Canadian Rally Champion and is currently leading the overall Canadian and North American championship titles with his co-driver Nathalie Richard. Their next rally will be October 19 -- 20 in and around Merritt, BC, 250 kilometers northeast of Vancouver.