L'ESTAGE AND RICHARD LEADING THE NORTH AMERICAN RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP

St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, November 18th, 2008 -- Antoine L'Estage and Nathalie Richard will be chasing back-to-back North American Rally Championship titles as they take to the start of the Rally of the Tall Pines on Saturday morning in Bancroft, Ontario. Almost 50 teams will compete in this event, Canada's sixth and final round of the year. The duo from St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec has already won four rallies on North American soil since the start of the season. They enter the competition with a five-point lead over main rival for the championship, Ken Block, who will be attempting to earn his first title. In addition to a variety of different Yokohama tires required to battle in the unknown weather conditions, L'Estage and Richard will be relying on their Royal Group Hyundai Tiburon, masterly prepared by rally legend John Buffum. L'Estage will be looking for his third consecutive event victory at this challenging rally.

"Tall Pines is really the most unpredictable event on the calendar, commented L'Estage. At this time of the year, the road and weather conditions can change from hour to hour and we have to be prepared for anything. I like tough conditions and having good pacenotes and the best tire choice could make the difference between a great stage time and going off the road. It was here in 2004 that I had my first ever career victory and after winning again in '06 and '07, coming here always brings back great memories."

"Antoine is the type of driver who excels under adverse conditions, adds Nathalie Richard. He has an innate sense that allows him to find the maximum possible speed a road can be driven, whether it's dry or wet or icy. That's what makes him a winner as often in summer, in winter, or at an event like Tall Pines."

One long day

Since 1971, Tall Pines has taken place over just one condensed day, unlike the common Canadian two-day rallies. At the Saturday morning start, L'Estage/Richard will be the first car on the road. The rally is made up of 180 kilometers and 15 competitive stages, over a period of twelve hours. " It's a long day for us, admits the two-time Canadian Champion and reigning North American Champion. We'll go from daylight to nighttime, as well as fall and winter, all the while adapting to the continuously changing conditions. "

-credit: coyote rallye