Rallye Defi: Round four preview

Demanding Rallye Defi 2008 to challenge Canadian rally teams Top Canadian rally talent will battle for critical points this weekend when the Canadian Rally Championship series moves to Quebec for the Rallye Defi on Sept. 5 and 6. Defending...

Demanding Rallye Defi 2008 to challenge Canadian rally teams

Top Canadian rally talent will battle for critical points this weekend when the Canadian Rally Championship series moves to Quebec for the Rallye Defi on Sept. 5 and 6.

Defending Canadian Champion Antoine L'Estage and co-driver Nathalie Richard -- both from nearby St-Jean-Sur-Richelieu, Quebec -- are the clear favourites for a hometown win in their factory-supported Hyundai Tiburon.

L'Estage has three back-to-back victories at this event and is looking for number four -- and a spot in the record books. A top finish on Saturday will give the driver the most consecutive wins in the contest's storied history.

"I really like the event, it is one of my favourites," says L'Estage "I really hope I can win here and beat the record held by (American rally legend) John Buffum."

After a mechanical failure that cost them crucial points earlier this season, the duo is currently second in the overall standings. They trail the series leaders -- Subaru Rally Team Canada's Pat Richard, of Squamish, BC, and co-driver Alan Ockwell, of Toronto -- by 18 points.

While Richard hasn't competed at this event since 2004, the multi-time champion is confident about his chances. The team is campaigning the 2008 Subaru WRX STi that's been in development at Richard's Rocket Rally shop this season and he says recent changes to the competition vehicle will make it more competitive than ever.

"We're sure that with the extra power we're making, we'll take the win," he said.

L'Estage's brother, Mathieu L'Estage, and his co-driver Yanick Napert, meanwhile, are hoping they can hang on to their third-place position in the standings in their Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution V. They are leading driver Andrew Comrie-Picard and co-driver Marc Goldfarb by five points, but expect a challenge.

Local heroes at this event will be the residents of Ste-Agathe-Des-Monts, Quebec, Marc Bourassa and Daniel Paquette, in their 2002 Subaru Impreza WRX. The pair has high hopes that they can wow the locals with their skill.

A fierce competition is also shaping up in two-wheel drive, with several series regulars making the trip to Quebec to do battle. Brothers Jan and Jody Zedril of Winnipeg, MB, will duke it out with Jen Horsey and Elise Racette in their respective Production 3 class Mitsubishi Lancers. Local competitors Sylvain Bazinet and Patrick Piche will also mix it up in their Production 3 VW Golf GTI.

Toronto's Comrie-Picard has suffered mechanical trouble at two previous events in the season and the pressure is on for him to make a comeback in his Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX at this round.

The fourth of six rounds, the Rallye Defi poses an endurance challenge for teams. With competitive stages getting longer on the second day of the event, competitors are forced to push faster just as they get more fatigued.

The event, held from September 5-6, 2008, includes more than 150 kilometers of competitive stages run in the scenic Mont Tremblant region. One of the toughest events on the calendar, Rallye Defi is known for its demanding stages.

Rally car racing is often described simply as "real cars, real roads, real fast." The all-season motorsport sees drivers and their co-drivers take modified road cars to the limit as they achieve blistering speeds over closed-road courses that typically cover more than 150 kilometres of gravel, dirt or snow-covered roads. Fans can get up close to the cars in the service areas and catch all the action from specially designated spectator points located at the best spots on the route.

The Canadian Rally Championship is comprised of six events held nationwide in a season that extends from February to November. The series is presented by Subaru Canada, supported by Yokohama Tire Canada and features contingency programs from Subaru Canada and Mitsubishi Canada. The Canadian Association of Rallysport (CARS) is the official sanctioning body for rallying in Canada.

Full coverage of the championship will air on RDS and TSN. Check local listings.

-credit: www.CARSrally.ca

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Series Other rally
Drivers Antoine L'Estage , Yanick Napert , Pat Richard , Andrew Comrie-Picard , Marc Goldfarb , Marc Bourassa , Alan Ockwell , Jen Horsey , John Buffum , Jody Zedril , Daniel Paquette