FIRST TIME AT 100 ACRE WOOD ENDS EARLY FOR ANTOINE L'ESTAGE
Salem, Missouri, February 26, 2008.-- The Quebec duo, comprised of driver Antoine L'Estage and his co-driver Nathalie Richard, of St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, were forced to end their winning streak at Missouri's Rally in the 100 Acre Wood, the second round of the American rally championship held this past weekend.
Leading the series after winning last month's Sno*Drift Rally in Michigan, Antoine L'Estage went to the Rally in the 100 Acre Wood in hopes of extending this lead over his American rivals, on some of the fastest roads in the Rally America championship. " The gravel course was actually covered in a thin coating of ice, without any snowbanks to help keep us on the road " mentioned Antoine, " it was really some of the most difficult conditions " he added.
Regardless, the event got off to a good start for the defending Canadian and North American Champions. Fighting with eventual winner Ken Block for the top spot, Antoine L'Estage, in his Royal Group Yokohama Hyundai Tiburon, had a 15 second lead ahead of defending American champion Travis Pastrana after the first two special stages. The Quebec driver commented: " we weren't far off Ken Block's pace, and he's won this rally the past two years in a row. We were pretty confident that we could increase our pace as the rally pogressed. During the following stage, we carried too much speed coming into a left turn that was preceded by a small crest. I made a small error and we clipped a tree, eventually damaging the radiator " explained L'Estage.
As a result, all the coolant was lost and the duo were forced to prematurely put an end to their first outting at the Rally of the 100 Acre Wood so as not to risk damaging the motor. " We could have finished the stage but seeing as we had one more stage before meeting up with our service crew again, the chances of us hurting the motor was just too great " concluded the driver.
Since Antoine L'Estage's last DNF in the Spring of 2007, he has an impressive six overall victories and one second place finish.
The Coyote Rallye Team, wearing Royal Group and Yokohama Tire colours for their campaign in the United States, will compete in a partial programme of the Rally America series. In addition to the nine rounds of the regular season, teams will be attempting to qualify for the prestigious X Games 14 to be held this summer in Los Angeles.
The team is also contesting the entire calendar of the Canadian Rally Championship, whose next event is the Rocky Mountain Rally in Calgary, Alberta on May 23rd and 24th. Antoine L'Estage and Nathalie Richard will attempt to finish at the top of the podium for the third consecutive year.
The Rally America series is comprised of nine rounds, spread across the United States, starting in January and ending in October. In addition, competitors in the championship are vying for invitations into the prestigious X Games 14 to be held in August in Los Angeles.