Strategic second place helps L’Estage/Richard move closer to rally title
MERRITT, B.C. (October 5, 2009) – Driving what they described as “a smart rally,” reigning North American Rally Champions Antoine L’Estage and Nathalie Richard secured their lead in the Canadian Rally Championship at the Pacific Forest Rally here, and set the stage for a title showdown in the final event of the season next month.
L’Estage and Richard, of St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, were within a second of leading the Pacific Forest, fifth round of the national title chase, but settled into a strategic second-place finish in their Rockstar Royal Group Mitsubishi Evo X after a turbo boost issue pushed them back 40 seconds on the final day of the two-day event. The pair finished behind the winning Subaru of Pat Richard and Mark Ockwell even though a late tire problem slowed the eventual winners.
“We realized we just needed second place to preserve our lead in the standings, so we just drove a smart rally and came out with our championship lead intact,” explains co-driver Richard.
The Yokohama-supported team goes to the Rally of the Tall Pines in Bancroft, Ontario, the final round of the championship, with six points in hand and a track record that makes them favourites for both a fourth victory in the event and a third national championship. L’Estage/Richard top the championship chase with 74 points to the Subaru squad’s 68, setting up a showdown for the title at an event that puts a premium on tire choice.
The Rally of the Tall Pines is a classic late autumn event that can offer conditions that range from snow to mud to ice to dry – all in the same day. The wide variation in driving conditions means tires are the most critical element in success, and an area where the L’Estage/Richard Mitsubishi has a distinct advantage. Not only can the team rely on its arsenal of purpose-built Yokohama competition tires for the wet, dry and rough road conditions, it can call on its Yokohama Ice Guard IG 20 winter tires for the worst ice and snow.
The Rally of the Tall Pines is scheduled for November 21, 2009 and, like all events in the Canadian Rally Championship presented by Subaru and supported by Yokohama, will be televised nationally on the TSN and RDS cable sports networks and available as downloads from iTunes, on-line on Flat Over Crest (www.flatovercrest.com) and to 80 million homes in Europe on MotorsTV.
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