L’Estage leads, Richard out at Rallye Defi

Posted on 09. Sep, 2011 by in Canadian Rally Champs, CRC 2011, Event Coverage, Rallye Defi 2011

Antoine L'Estage and Nathalie Richard took the lead on the first stage of the 2011 Rallye Defi, maintaining that position through to the end of the first day. “Today has been good,” said L'Estage. “The car has been great, and we have kept a good pace.” Even being first on the road didn't prove much of an issue for L'Estage. “The first stage was a bit loose, but after that, it was ok.” However, L'Estage and Richard seemed to be the only team to escape trouble. Issues on the way to the first stage meant that Pat Richard and Leanne Junnila ran out of fuel before reaching the refuelling station after SS1. As a consequence, the team had to get flat towed, something that the rules don't permit. The team continued on to the end of the day, finishing 10.3 seconds behind L'Estage, including taking a 10 second penalty. Officials have excluded Richard and Junnila from the rest of the event. "We got massively lost on one the transits and there was a long stage delay, the combination of which burned up all of our fuel reserves. I'm upset what can I say," said Richard. This moves Leo Urlichich and Martin Brady into a distant second place, two minutes, 20 seconds back from the lead. “We snapped an axle on the first stage, as is tradition. That was probably the fastest rear wheel drive car I've ever driven,” said Leo. “That damaged the centre and front diffs, so I'm a bit slower that I should be with a working open car.” At the end of the last stage though, Leo was concerned that the repairs may not have held. Third place currently belongs to Steeve Hobbs and Jean-Mathuieu Tremblay, who earned their first national podium here a few years ago. The two are less than 20 seconds back from Leo, and just 1.1 second ahead of fourth place Joel Levac. A tight battle is forming for seventh place, with 1.5 seconds separating Chris Martin, Marc Bourassa and Maxime Labrie. Fans and competitors were keen to see a repeat of the tight 2wd battle that took place last year, but it was not to be. The Zedrils have taken the lead, by nearly four minutes over Simon Dube and Pat Lavigne, who suffered suspension problems on the first stage that cost both time from a slower place and time penalties taken while fixing the car. "We bent the stub axle on the back of the passenger side. Then the brakes broke, so we had to go slowly," said Dube. "Obviously, we would like to fight for this rally," said Jan Zedril. "Last ear was so much fun, but it's a shame that we can't have that again this year. Last year I was actually really worried about pace, it was fun." Teams will compete over another 12 stages tomorrow, including the mixed surface Montpellier stage. With Richard out, L'Estage has all but clinched the 2011 Canadian Rally Championship. A first place here means L'Estage will just need to start one more event this season. Check back tomorrow for the final results from the 2011 Rallye Defi.

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