Canada Racing News
Saturday, July 2, 2011
L'Estage Triumphs at Difficult Rallye Baie Des Chaleurs
NEW RICHMOND, Quebec -- Rallye Baie Des Chaleurs features some of the fastest stages in the Canadian Rally Championship. A challenging combination of rough roads and slippery conditions demands respect from rally teams. By meeting these challenges and overcoming mechanical gremlins, Antoine L'Estage (St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, QC) and Nathalie Richard (Halifax) won the Rallye Baie Des Chaleurs, their sixth Canadian Rally victory in a row. Both L'Estage and Patrick Richard nearly retired twice from the event with technical difficulties.
"The crew are the ones who made us win this event," said L'Estage. "On Friday they had to rebuild the differentials, and then today they replaced the transmission in record time - just 40 minutes. There's no way we'd be here without their work."
L'Estage's main rivals Pat Richard (Squamish, BC) and Leanne Junnila (Calgary) also suffered multiple problems during the rally. "We lost boost and damaged our lights on Friday, and then today, broken suspension, damaged differentials," said Richard. "It's been a real roller coaster of an event. This is what happens though when you're trying to fight for a win. Things break."
Richard and Junnila finished second. The pair had dropped well back of L'Estage when troubles hit early in the rally, but fought back to within 20 seconds of first place, after L'Estage encountered difficulties of his own. "I know where I could have found 20 seconds today, so it's a frustrating result," said Richard. "The main thing is we got points towards the championship."
Leo Urlichich (Toronto) and Martin Brady (Meath, Ireland) finished third, repeating their podium position from the Rocky Mountain Rally, despite problems of their own. "The car has been very difficult to drive. The throttle response is like an on/off switch, so it has been difficult to commit to corners fully," said Urlichich, who had to battle back after a flat tire and boost problems on day one set them well down the order for the start of the second day.
Urlichich was able to claw back enough time to pass Bruno Carre (Laval, QC), who was also struggling. Max Riddle (Vancouver) and Aaron Neumann (Anmore, BC) finished fifth, a personal best for the rookie driver, who is having success in his very first rally season.
Two wheel drive cars were not immune to the tough conditions. Simon Dube (Jonquiθre, QC) was fastest early in the event, until two flat tires cost he and co-driver Pat Levesque (Baie Comeau, QC) approximately five minutes. The pair battled back over the next day and a half, eventually beating main rivals David Berube and codriver Yves St-Pierre (Quebec City) after Berube and St-Pierre suffered suspension problems that forced them to slow down over the final two stages.
"The rally went through some changes after last year," said organiser Stephane Roussel. "Although we lost some old stages that were favourites, we came up with a new stage that will become a favourite soon." The 2011 season resumes at the Rallye Defi, September 9-10, 2011, held in Ste Agathe, Quebec. L'Estage has won the rally more than anyone else, but Richard will need to win to keep hope alive for the 2011 Canadian Rally Championship title.
The Canadian Rally Championship is comprised of six events held across the country in a season that extends from February to November. The series is presented by Subaru Canada, supported by Yokohama Tire Canada and features contingency programs from Subaru Canada and Mitsubishi Canada. The Canadian Association of Rallysport (CARS) is the official sanctioning body for rallying in Canada.
Rally is often described simply as "real cars, real roads, real fast." The all-season motorsport sees drivers and their co-drivers take modified road cars to the limit as they achieve blistering speeds over closed-road courses that typically cover more than 150 kilometers of gravel, dirt or snow-covered roads. Fans can get up close to the cars in the service areas and catch all the action from specially designated spectator points located at the best spots on the route.
Full coverage of the championship will air on RDS and TSN. Check local listings.
For more information: www.carsrally.ca or www.rallyebdc.com
You can also follow the series on Twitter @CRCRally or at facebook.com/CRCRally
Rallye Baie Des Chaleurs Final Results
1. Antoine L'Estage Nathalie Richard One hour, 58 minutes, 10.1 seconds
2. Pat Richard Leanne Junnila 1:58:30.7
3. Leo Urlichich Martin Brady 2:00:27.4
4. Bruno Carre Yvan Joyal 2:01:09.1
5. Max Riddle Aaron Neumann 2:03:30.3
6. Joel Levac Stephanie Lewis 2:06:49.6
7. Marc Bourassa Daniel Paquette 2:07:58.6
8. Nicola Narini Massimo Narini 2:08:10.4
9. Maxime Losier Philippe Poirier 2:08:24.8
10. Michel Bois Anick Madon 2:10:36.9