Antoine Opens 2008 with a Win

Posted on 10. Feb, 2008 by in Perce Neige 2008

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After close battles all day long, Antoine L’Estage and Nathalie Richard have shown they have the pace to continue to be winners in the Canadian rally Championship by winning the Rallye Perce Neige Maniwaki.

Catching up with the teams at the first remote service, the attrition in the event had already started. Andrew Wallbank and Ryan Huber ended their rally in the service park after their Impreza lost their rear differential. When the diff failed, the centre differential also failed, leaving the car with a weak front wheel drive only. In addition, the crew also lost their oil feed line for the turbo. Until then, they had been enjoying a good run.

Heading into the longer stages, many teams stuck with snow tires for their attack on the Tortue and Pythonga stages to the West of Maniwaki. The stages are some of the longest in Canada and full of drama. Antoine L’Estage arrived at the end of SS10 without a rear bumper, and spoke of slippery conditions. Despite the tough conditions, it was here that Antoine really began to pull away, with over 40 seconds made on Andrew Comrie Picard, and almost two and a half minutes on Pat Richard.

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News that Sylvain had spun was quickly confirmed as more drivers arrived, and the fourth car to the control was Leo Urlichich. Leo was able to confirm that Thomson had also spun and was stuck. After being extracted, Thomson was max late and did not continue in the event.

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The action was not just reserved for the front of the pack. Craig Henderson appeared worn out as he arrived at the control. Henderson explained how difficult conditions were and added that he “has never been more terrified,” of any rally stage he’s ever driven.

John Vanos, who is driving an Eagle Talon for this event was also caught out by the icy conditions, nudging the Subaru parked ahead of him at the finish control of SS10. “We had a spin at about 140. It was [terrifying].” Despite the moment, the pair were fine and headed off to service.

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Following the second service at Black Rollway, teams left for one more pass along the Tortue and Pythonga stages before returning to Maniwaki for the final time control and podium. Continued snowfall meant that teams stuck with snow tires. By now, the experience of the Antoine L’Estage and Nathalie Richard pairing, combined with the reliability of the Hyundai Tiburon had meant the team had carved out a substantial lead. With almost three minutes advantage, the pair eased off and played it safe over the last stage, allowing Pat Richard and Andrew Comrie-Picard to claw back some time. Richard charged hard on the final stage, clawing back almost two minutes on rally leader Antoine L’Estage. Andrew Comrie-Picard also made time, slightly more than a minute and a half.

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As final times started to roll in, it became clear how the three all compared. Antoine had secured the win with one minute and fifteen second lead over Andrew Comrie-Picard. The hard charge by Pat Richard, though impressive, was not quite enough to secure any more than third place, just fourteen seconds behind ACP. The blistering pace set by the top drivers gives a good example of what can be expected from the rest of the season.

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Fourth place looked to be going to Mathieu L’Estage, but on the final stage, Jon Nichols and co-driver Carl Schenk managed to push hard and outpace Mathieu to take fourth place, L’Estage and Napert finishing down in fifth. So-called “Crazy” Leo Urlichich showed that he too can maintain composure and put in a consistent drive to finish sixth overall.

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The top honours in two wheel drive went to the Zedril crew. The pair have put in plenty of seat time competing both in the US and Canada and were faster than a number of Open class cars. Running a production class Mitsubishi Lancer, the pair finished twelfth overall.

Terry Epp, the National Series Manager was thrilled about how the event turned out, and what we have to look forward to this season. “The field has never looked any better than here.” The next event in the Canadian Rally Championship is the Rocky Mountain Rally, held in Calgary, Alberta on May 23-24, 2008.

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4 Responses to “Antoine Opens 2008 with a Win”

  1. Anthony Tremblay

    10. Feb, 2008

    Thanks to all of you for your reporting efforts. Rally fans are really lucky to have such talented and dedicated volunteers. Great shots, great writing!

  2. Warren Currie

    10. Feb, 2008

    Thanks for the coverage FOC Crew – Great – as always!

  3. Ray

    11. Feb, 2008

    To all the F.O.C. team. .. nice writing, good pictures, great coverage.
    See you at Rocky when we all hope it will be a bit warmer…..lol

  4. GDorman

    11. Feb, 2008

    I wish you guys could cover US events as well. Job well done FOC!

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