L’ESTAGE CLAIMS HIS CHAMP CROWN WITH AN IMPRESSIVE COMEBACK
NEWRY, ME (JULY 17, 2010) With the Rally America Championship title on the line and a day of unfortunate mishaps, Antoine L’Estage, along with co-driver Nathalie Richard, defined the art of a comeback at the New England Forest Rally. Using VP’s Rally Max fuel blend, the rally pair powered themselves back to the podium to become the 2010 Rally America Champions.
Travis Pastrana, with his four-straight title triumphs was set to bow out as champion with victory at the gravel event, but soon found out what the underdogs, L’Estage and Richard, were made of. Pastrana experienced catastrophic engine failure at the penultimate stage.
“The win was nearly in sight when our engine began to hit trouble, but that’s rallying,” said Pastrana. “I’m so happy for Antoine and [his co-driver] Nathalie [Richard], they are probably the most friendly team in the series, and I really enjoy competing against them. They had a great year and deserve to be the champs.”
Multiple Canadian champion L’Estage, along with Richard, only needed a fifth-place finish to secure their title in the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X. Despite the turbo problem that dropped them from second to fifth, they fought back up to second and inherited the victory when Pastrana hit trouble.
L’Estage’s main title rival, Bill Bacon, lost five minutes with a puncture. Ken Block had led the event in his Monster World Rally Team-run Ford Fiesta only to crash out on the fourth stage.
“It has been a hard road getting here,” said L’Estage. “We only planned to run four events in America this year, but when we found ourselves in contention for a title after the Olympus Rally we mustered up more funds. I am very thankful for my team and the incredible work they put in, especially our team manager John Buffum.”
Rally season isn’t over. The same teams will be fueling up with Rally Max for ESPN’s Summer X Games 16 on July 31.