ANTOINE L'ESTAGE WINS AND TAKES COMMAND OF THE CHAMPIONSHIP
Ripon (Quebec), September 14, 2009. - This past weekend, reigning North American Rally Champions Antoine L'Estage and Nathalie Richard, both of St-Jean-sur-Richelieu (Qc), won the Rallye Défi, the fourth of six rounds in the 2009 Canadian Rally Championship. This was a particularly important win for the Quebec team and their Rockstar Royal Group Mitsubishi Evo X because it enabled them to regain command of the championship as well as to equal North American rally legend John Buffum's record of four victories at the Rallye Défi.
" Everything played out like a dream ! " exclaimed Antoine as he descended from the podium. " Our Rockstar Royal Group Mitsubishi Evo X was perfect and it allowed us to push at the start of the rally. After that, it was just a matter of managing our lead and making it to the end of the rally. If we could've written our ideal scenario for the weekend, this would've been it. It's fantastic and everything played out in our favor. We've had our share of bad luck this year so it's great to finally have some good luck on our side. " he added.
The battle for first place was very intense on Friday night and early Saturday morning, confided Antoine : " we were exchanging fastest stage times with our primary adversary, it was really a battle of mere seconds. " Benefiting from a very reliable Rockstar Royal Group Mitsubishi Evo X, Antoine L'Estage took the lead of the rally after the ninth stage and never looked back. This victory at the Rallye Défi is the team's second out of four outings thus far in the 2009 Canadian Rally Championship. " The quality of the car preparation is top notch and I have to applaud our entire team, as well as Yokohama for the quality of their tires in such a challenging event. Everything went according to plan and it allowed Nathalie and I to concentrate on the rally without worrying about anything else. Défi is a difficult rally and for many teams, just finishing is an accomplishment but for us, we were here to come away with the win " added L'Estage.
This success gives Antoine L'Estage and Nathalie Richard the absolute lead of the championship with eleven points over second place and only two remaining rounds. It's the duo's fourth victory at the Rallye Défi, equaling the 1987 record held by John Buffum and co-driver Tom Grimshaw. " Tying such a prestigious record is really sentimental for Antoine, especially since he now shares it with his mentor and good friend. The weekend's result was also imperative in our fight for this year's championship title. We're now back in the lead and we'll do everything we can to keep it that way until the end of the season " commented co-driver Nathalie Richard.
The next stop in the Canadian Rally Championship is in three weeks in British Columbia. On October 2nd and 3rd, Merritt will host the Pacific Forest Rally, to which Antoine L'Estage and Nathalie Richard are the defending champions.