ANTOINE L'ESTAGE WINS RALLY OF THE TALL PINES, EARNS THIRD TITLE FOR 2010
BANCROFT, ONTARIO, NOVEMBER 20, 2010 -- Antoine L'Estage and Nathalie Richard (Ste-Jeansur- Richelieu, QC) of the Rockstar Mitsubishi team scored a decisive win in the Rally of the Tall Pines, the final round of the Canadian Rally Championship Presented by Subaru and supported by Yokohama. The win secures the team's third Canadian Rally Championship and combines with their Rally America and North American Rally Cup titles to make them only the second team ever to win all three titles in the same year.
"I'm so happy that we've done it," exclaimed L'Estage, "The car was so good all season, and my family and sponsors have all been very supportive. I am so happy that I can show my appreciation by winning every rally title there is in North America." L'Estage and Richard have developed into one of the most dominant teams in North America, winning six of the last seven rallies they have entered, and earning the US title in their first full season south of the border. Until now, L'Estage's development as a driver has been mostly through competition in the demanding Canadian Rally Championship.
Second place in both the event and the championship went to Craig Henderson and Lyne Murphy (New Richmond, QC) of Team Swap Shop. Known for clean and consistent driving, 2010 marks the first year the team have done the entire championship. Although happy for the strong finish, Henderson was happy to have the event finished, and with his second place, secured the manufacturer's title for Subaru.
"Things were going ok this morning, but I started to get sick in the afternoon," said Henderson. "For a while I thought I might need to stop, but I was determined to get to the finish."
Bruno Carre and Yvan Joyal (Laval, QC), also of Team Swap Shop finished third after a variety of problems hampered their speed through most of the rally. The pair won the opening round of the 2010 season and led the points standings through the midpoint of the season.
"This was a really tough rally," said Carre. "We had brake problems and driveline problems, but the team was always able to repair the car and keep us going."
Pat Richard (Squamish, BC) and Alan Ockwell (Toronto) of Subaru Rally Team Canada retired late in the day after broken suspension caused the car to veer off the road.
"Congratulations to Antoine and Nathalie on their win," said Richard, who won the title most recently in 2008 and 2009. "We've done so well in the past, it's tough not to be able to continue that trend. This rally was really hard on us, and we wanted to win, but sometimes that's just not how things go."
Subaru Rally Team Canada entered a second car to help boost chances of securing the manufacturer's title. Driven by 2003 Production World Rally Champion Martin Rowe (Whistler, BC) and co-driver Keith Morison (Calgary.) The team suffered multiple mechanical problems but managed to claw back up the order and finish fourth.
Two wheel drive was dominated through most of the event by Simon Dube (Jonquière, QC) and Pat Levigne (Montreal) in a VW Golf. The pair suffered a huge setback when they lost their power steering and alternator belt after driving through a water splash. Though they were able to make repairs and continue, they lost the top spot to local pair Martin Walter and Ferdinand Trauttmansdorf in a Nissan 240SX.
"I'm a big proponent of two wheel drive," said Walter. "I think it's really important to show people that you can have a great time rallying without having to spend big bucks on an all wheel drive car. We kept things clean all rally and have come out on top."
The 2010 edition of the Rally of the Tall Pines marked the event's 40th anniversary, making it one of the oldest events in the championship. Conditions are known to be unpredictable, and can change quickly, demanding the best of the teams.
"With the 40th anniversary this year, we've been focused on making this the best Tall Pines ever," said Mike Koch, rally co-ordinator. "We were able to improve some of the roads over previous years to make things better for the competitors, and have continued to foster great spectating with changes to the super special and I am really happy with the results."
The 2011 season of the Canadian Rally Championship starts in Maniwaki, Quebec, with the Rallye Perce Neige in February. As Canada's only deep winter event, teams have a chance to enjoy the challenge of driving flat out on ice and snow covered roads.
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.
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 kilometers 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.
Full coverage of the championship will air on RDS and TSN. Check local listings. For more information: www.carsrally.ca or www.tallpinesrally.com