Rally Triple Crown with the Canadian Title!

Photo: Flatovercrest.com

BANCROFT, Ontario (November 20, 2010) – Ten months and thousands of kilometres after it started, the team of Antoine L’Estage and Nathalie Richard ended the 2010 rally season with a dominant victory in the Rally of the Tall Pines, sewing up the Canadian Rally Championship and earning the coveted ‘triple crown’ of North American rally competition for the Yokohama team.
 
Driver L’Estage and co-driver Nathalie Richard, of Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, finished the grueling event with a massive 10-plus minute margin over second place Craig Henderson and Lyne Murphy of St-Constant, Quebec. It was a Quebec sweep of the podium as Bruno Carré, of Laval and co-driver Yvan Joyal of Terrebone finished third.
 
The victory placed L’Estage and Nathalie Richard in the rarified air of triple crown winners – one of only two teams that have won the Canadian championship, the U.S. championship and the North American Rally Cup in the same year.
 
The event promised to be a battle of Yokohama team mates as L’Estage/Nathalie Richard, in their Mitsubishi Lancer EVO X, led Subaru Rally Team Canada’s Pat Richard (Squamish, B.C.) and Alan Ockwell (Toronto) by a scant two points going into the final event. With the driver’s, co-driver’s and manufacturer’s titles on the line, and the reputation of Tall Pines for unpredictability, the only predictable outcome was that the Canadian champion would likely be on Yokohama tires.
 
But the most anticipated battle of the year faded early when L’Estage grabbed the lead from the first stage while the Richard/Ockwell Subaru Impreza WRX STi suffered damage in the morning stages that delayed the team in service. The reigning Canadian championship team of Richard/Ockwell mounted a comeback charge, winning several stages during the day, but that ended when the team went out with suspension damage late in the rally.
 
The two Yokohama teams also claimed two of the top spots in the overall Canadian standings when Richard/Ockwell tied with Henderson/Murphy for second in the championship chase.
 
The victory caps an unprecedented year for L’Estage and Nathalie Richard that included an impressive record of two wins, three second place finishes and a third that propelled them to the Rally America Championship in the U.S. Four wins in the Canadian national series not only earned L’Estage his third Canadian title, it counted towards his third North American Rally Cup. Nathalie Richard’s record is even more impressive: six North American Rally Cup titles and six national championships from Canada or the U.S.
 
In addition to cris-crossing the continent chasing rally championships, the pair also earned a bronze medal at the 2010 X Games in California, underlining perhaps the most successful competition season for any Canadian motorsport competitors this year.