Twelfth national victory for Antoine L'Estage Merritt (British-Columbia), October 21, 2007.- The team formed by Canadian defending champion driver Antoine L'Estage and his co-driver Nathalie Richard, both from St-Jean-sur-Richelieu (Quebec),...
Twelfth national victory for Antoine L'Estage
Merritt (British-Columbia), October 21, 2007.- The team formed by Canadian defending champion driver Antoine L'Estage and his co-driver Nathalie Richard, both from St-Jean-sur-Richelieu (Quebec), dominated this weekend's Pacific Forest Rally, penultimate round of the 2007 Canadian Rally Championship presented by Subaru and Castrol.
With their Hyundai Tiburon 4WD, L'Estage/Richard were never challenged for the lead of the event which they led from start to finish. They finished with a 6 minute and 7 seconds advantage over local favourites Norm LeBlanc (BC)/Keith Morison (AB) with their Production 4 class (models closed to the production) Subaru Impreza WRX. It was a fantastic result for the Western crew in their only national rally event of the year! LeBlanc/Morison finished ahead of championship contenders Andrew Comrie-Picard (Toronto, ON) and American co-driver Marc Goldfarb with their Mitsubishi Lancer Evo.9 RS. Hindered by a wrong choice of tires and centre differential problems, Comrie-Picard/Goldfarb lost important points in the championship chase as L'Estage now has a 15 point lead. It was also the twelfth national victory in Antoine L'Estage last eighteen events.
Regular competitors in the western events, Scott and Robert Trinder (BC) finished fourth in a Subaru Impreza WRX, ahead of Gord Olsen (AB) and Todd Patola (BC), also in a Subaru Impreza WRX.
In Group 2 (category for 2-wheel drive modified cars), the battle between Colin Armstrong/Ryan Warrington (AB), in a Volkswagen Golf, and Aaron Neumann/Graham Coates (BC), in their Honda Civic, was the focus of attention for many of the spectators with both crews seeking for victory throughout the rally. In the end, Neumann/Coates took the win, but Armstrong/ Warrington have secured the Group 2 championship. Colin Armstrong is also leading the novice driver category. These two Group 2 crews finished sixth and seventh overall, followed by Ontarians Nicola and Massimo Narini (Subaru Legacy GT).
While there were only a couple of retirements during this 2007 edition of the Pacific Forest Rally, weather conditions provided the greatest challenge during the event for both the organizers and the competitors. Rain in the host town of Merritt meant significant snow at higher elevations forcing cancellation of two mountain stages. The organizers had to revise the schedule and two replacement stages were added. Many of the roads used were snow and ice covered providing the competitors with critical tire choice decisions and difficult driving conditions.
The final round of the Canadian Rally Championship, presented by Subaru and Castrol, will take place November 24 in Ontario (Tall Pines Rally). It will be there that the driver's title is claimed by either Antoine L'Estage or Andrew Comrie-Picard.
The filming of the series for TV broadcasting is provided by ATV Productions. Information on the Canadian Rally Championship and the various Canadian rally competitions is available at www.carsrally.ca.
Pacific Forest Rally final standings (complete results on www.pacificforestrally.com):