ANTOINE L'ESTAGE WINS THE PENNSYLVANIA RALLY
Wellsboro, Pennsylvania, June 10 2008.-- Antoine L'Estage, co-driven by Nathalie Richard, both residents of St-Jean-sur-Richelieu (Quebec), won this weekend's Susquehannock Trail Performance Rally (STPR) in Pennsylvania. It is the second time in three outings that Antoine L'Estage and Nathalie Richard come away victorious in the 2008 Rally America series.
This year's STPR, contested under sunny skies, hot temperatures and almost intolerable humidity, was very physically demanding on the teams. " It was a tough rally, both because of the weather and the difficult stages. For us, everything started off well on Friday, finishing the first leg of the event in third place. We were 20 seconds out of the rally lead and 2 seconds behind second place, which put us in a perfect position to attack the next morning " commented Antoine L'Estage. " We took the lead of the rally on the first stage Saturday morning and held onto it until the end " added the current Canadian and North American champion.
Despite their lead, the L'Estage-Richard duo got a scare of their own when they lost their turbo on the eighth of thirteen special stages. " Our mechanics did an incredible job changing the turbo in the limited time, avoiding any time penalties. This victory truly was a win for the entire team! " indicated L'Estage.
Following the repairs, Antoine L'Estage and Nathalie Richard only needed to manage their lead, conceding a few seconds here and there to their closest competitors on the last few stages. They crossed the finish line ahead of 2007 X Games gold medalists Tanner Foust/Christine Beavis. This is the second victory in three U.S. starts for the team, something very validating for Antoine L'Estage. " Our Royal Group Hyundai Tiburon may be seven years old but it is very competitive and is always very well prepared by John Buffum -- but we are still a small team with a budget only a fraction of that of manufacturers' teams. It may be difficult for some to imagine what that represents but for us, it's extremely validating that we are capable of winning under these circumstances. " underlines Nathalie Richard, " And as usual, Antoine drove a great race on tough stages! "
This victory assures L'Estage-Richard an invitation to the 14th annual X Games, to be held in Los Angeles in August. The X Games are widely referred to as the Olympics of extreme sports and will include rally cars for the third consecutive year.