2013 season opener
Quebec driver Antoine L’Estage (of St-Jean-sur-Richelieu) and his co-driver Nathalie Richard (of Halifax, Nova Scotia) won this weekend’s SnoDrift Rally in Michigan, Round 1 of the 2013 Rally America series and the North American Rally Cup. For the Rockstar Energy Drink Rally Team, this was a very significant come-from-behind win against the more powerful American teams, only days before the start of the Canadian Championship.
Reigning Canadian and North American champions, Antoine L’Estage and Nathalie Richard spent the entire event in a very tight battle with Brits David Higgins and Craig Drew in their Subaru USA car, at one point closing the gap to less than half a second on Saturday morning. The Rockstar team turned on the heat in the last two competitive stages of the rally, overtaking their rivals and claiming a thrilling victory by 6.2 seconds. « David and I had such a good battle this weekend! The snow and ice conditions somewhat level the playing field in terms of machinery and both of us had very clean runs, free and clear of any problems. It’s unfortunate that Ken Block suffered his mechanical issues early on. Nathalie and I are very happy with our car and we were able to finish the event without the slightest dent, ready for our next rally in four days. Thank you to John Buffum’s Libra Racing shop for preparing such a great car to kick off the season » mentions the excited Quebec driver.
He specifies : « We used our Yokohama AO34s for all twenty stages and they did a great job keeping us on the road, even on the sometimes very icy conditions. It was great to have confidence in our tires, confidence in our notes, and confidence in ourselves to pull off the fastest times when the pressure was on. Seeing that third place was about twelve minutes behind says something about the pace we kept throughout the entire event ».
The Rockstar Energy Drink duo is now bringing their Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X to the Haute-Gatineau region of Québec to contest the Rallye Perce-Neige this Saturday in Maniwaki. Antoine L’Estage and Nathalie Richard are heading to this first round of the 2013 Canadian Rally Championship with anticipation : « it’s a very special rally that I really enjoy, we’ve already won here five times, and the car is in great shape after the SnoDrift Rally. It’s always been a tough event but this year the organizers decided to finish it off with a 50km night stage! » explains Antoine. Co-driver Nathalie Richard concludes : « winning in the US this past weekend is the best way for us to kick off the Canadian season in a few days. The entire team is ready and we’re aiming for a repeat performance ».
Antoine L’Estage holds five North American championship titles (2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012), five Canadian titles (2006, 2007, 2010, 2011, 2012), one American title (2010), and thirty-eight overall victories in Canada and the US. Nathalie Richard holds eight overall national championship titles (2004, 2007, 2010, 2011, 2012 in Canada and 2004, 2005, 2010 in the US), as well as forty-four overall rally wins on both sides of the border. She also holds a record eight North American Co-Driving Championship titles (2004 – 2012, excluding 2006).
Antoine L’Estage and Nathalie Richard participated in the 2012 Rally America and Canadian Rally Championships with the support of Rockstar Energy Drink, Fenetres Concerto, Mitsubishi Canada, Yokohama Tires, Drenth Motorsport Gearboxes, Énergie Cardio, , Formica Group, Alpinestars, VP Racing Fuels, Exe-Tc Suspensions, Driver’s Edge Autosport, and Libra Racing. For more information on the team or on rallying in general, visit www.antoinelestage.com
source : Coyote Rallye Media Services