Montréal (Québec), September 3, 2014.- Quebec driver Antoine L’Estage (of St-Jean-sur-Richelieu) will contest this weekend’s Rallye Défi, the third of six rounds in the 2014 Canadian Rally Championship, which will take place on Friday in the Laurentides region (Ste-Agathe-des-Monts) and on Saturday in Outaouais. The six-time North American and Canadian champion will once again be co-driven by Torontonian Alan Ockwell, with the plans of improving his record of victories by winning this event for an eighth time.
Winner of the Perce-Neige and Baie-des-Chaleurs rallies earlier this season, Antoine L'Estage has a perfect record since the start of the 2014 season. Contested in front of numerous fans, family, and friends, the Rallye Défi is looked forward to with a lot of enthusiasm by the Yokohama Rally team driver : « The Rallye Défi marks the return of the Canadian championship. This is my home event and I’ve won it a record seven times » confides Antoine, who clarifies : « but just because I’ve already won it seven times doesn’t mean I’m going to take things for granted. Along with my co-driver Alan Ockwell and the entire Yokohama Rallye team, we know that this is one of the trickiest rallies of the season. You have to be very careful to not make any mistakes but yet very fast in the succession of short competitive stages that make up the event ».
The Rallye Défi, with its short but difficult stages, requires a perfectly prepared car in order to hope to win. Antoine L'Estage speaks confidently about this : « the risk of a puncture is always high on the Friday stages near Ste-Agathe but, I know I am best equipped with my Yokohama tires. As for the car itself, we had a test session on August 28th and everything was working perfectly ». Antoine definitely hopes to increase his lead in the championship with this event. But he remains careful : « we won the first two rallies but the gap at the front remains small. There are still two-thirds of the season left to contest between the beginning of September and the end of November. It’s far from over, it’s still early in the championship ! » he spcifies.
The Yokohama Rallye team would like to wish a speedy recovery to Patrick Richard, who has been Antoine L’Estage’s biggest rival in the Canadian Championship and who recently announced his retirement as a driver, due to health reasons. Antoine L'Estage explains : « this has touched me on a human level. Having to end his career like that must be very tough. I really hope he recovers quickly. Pat and I, we’re a bit like drivers who have battled each other for victories and titles in Formula 1 or elsewhere at a certain point in time. He pushed me to get faster, and vice versa. The drivers against whom I will compete at Défi and at the next rallies are at an excellent level but Pat will forever have an important place in the world of Canadian rally and in my own personal career ».
The 2014 Rallye Défi will start this Friday, September 5th in à Ste-Agathe-des-Monts. The finish will take place on Saturday, September 6th in Ripon (MRC Papineau, Outaouais).
Antoine L'Estage currently holds six North American titles (2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013), six Canadian (2006, 2007, 2010 to 2013), one American (2010) and forty-four overall victories in Canada and the United States.
He is contesting the 2014 Canadian Rally Championship with the support of Yokohama Tires, Drenth Motorsport Gearboxes, Énergie Cardio, Method Race Wheels, VP Racing Fuels, Alpinestars, Exe-Tc Suspensions, Driver's Edge Autosport, and Libra Racing. For more information on the team or rally in general, please visit the antoinelestage.com site.
Source : Coyote Rallye Media Services, (514) 825 - 4332
2014 Canadian Rally Championship Calendar
Photo : This weekend, Antoine L’Estage eyes a new record of eight wins at the Rallye Défi.
Credit : Maxime Poirier