A NAIL-BITING DUAL-- POSTPONED!
Montpellier (Quebec), September 8 2008.-- Reigning North American and Canadian Champions Antoine L'Estage and Nathalie Richard, from St-Jean-sur-Richelieu (QC), were looking to take back the lead of the Canadian national rally championship this past weekend in addition to equaling the greatest number of victories for this popular Quebec performance rally, the Rallye Defi Ste-Agathe. The Royal Group Hyundai Yokohama team finished the first leg of the rally, held on Friday in and around Ste-Agathe, with a slight lead. Saturday's section of the event in the Petite Nation communities of Montpellier, Ripon, Saint-Sixte, and Duhamel gave the team less to smile about as mechanical issues forced them to retire from the rally, while still in front, after the thirteenth competitive stage.
This fourth round of the competition calendar started off under sunny skies as the highly anticipated dual between defending Canadian and North American Champion, Antoine L'Estage, and Patrick Richard, current championship points leader. " Everything went remarkably well on Friday. We had a good rhythm, weren't taking any risks and we were swapping seconds back and forth with Pat. At the end of the day, we were just one second ahead of him and the groundwork was there for an intense battle to the finish " indicated Antoine, he added : " Friday night, spectators came to me while we were packing up to tell me how exciting it was to watch and I'm confident we gave a good show both for them and for the TV cameras ".
Saturday morning, teams awoke to weather conditions radically different from the previous day's start. Rain, wind and mud were all present but Antoine L'Estage was able to augment his lead to as much as 7 seconds by the end of the tenth competitive stage of the rally. " This year's event pretty much consists of short stages until later in the afternoon. Every second gained or lost is crucial and we were trying to increase our lead even more when we started experiencing engine problems. " explained Antoine. " It's an issue with a piston that damaged the motor and it's nothing we could have prevented. Even with Pat's new increase in power, we really felt we could've won this event so naturally, we're both very disappointed. " concluded the Quebecois driver.
At the end of the thirteenth competitive stage, while Antoine L'Estage and Nathalie Richard were still in the lead, the decision was made that the car could not continue the rally. Patrick Richard and Alan Ockwell went on to victory.
Next Stop British Columbia
The next round of the Canadian Championship is the Pacific Forest Rally on October 17th and 18th in Merritt, British Columbia. Antoine L'Estage and Nathalie Richard won this event last year and they plan a repeat performance : " earning important championship points is less of a factor now -- our goal is to go out there, win rallies and finish the season on a high note. " indicated Nathalie Richard.
Antoine L'Estage and Nathalie Richard compete in the Canadian Rally Championship with the proud support of : Hyundai Canada, Royal Group, Yokohama Tires, Energie Cardio, Libra Racing, OMP Racewear, VP Racing Fuels, and MBF Racing. You can also visit the team's site Coyote Rallye for more specific information on the team or as a general rally reference.
-credit: coyote rallye