Antoine L'Estage Wins 2014 Rallye Baie des Chaleurs

All photos courtesy of Danny Bujold

Antoine L'Estage came to the 2014 edition of Rally Baie des Chaleurs without Rockstar sponsorship, but a change in livery failed to hinder the six time national champion. Leading right from the end of the first stage, even overheating issues couldn't slow the six time national champion. L'Estage and co-driver Alan Ockwell dominated the rally's first day as well as the first half of day two, before backing off to secure first place.

Notably absent to challenge L'Estage was his usual arch-rival Pat Richard, who missed Baie as a result of a lingering head injury.

With Richard absent and 'Crazy Leo' Urlichich pursuing a career in the World Rally Championship, Alex Beland and Lynne Murphy emerged as L'Estage's chief pursuers. With Beland in his 3rd Canadian outing in Can-Jam Motorsports' 'Beast', Beland followed up his podium finish at Rallye Perce Neige with another excellent performance.

Rounding out a podium that remained unchanged for the entirety of the rally were Joel Levac and Stephanie Lewis. Hanging just within striking distance of second for most of the rally, the pair gave fans the long awaited debut of Levac's Mini John Cooper Works WRC. While it's rare to see a driver post a great result in a brand new car without a lot of testing miles, the WRC Mini failed to disappoint, bringing Levac a podium finish.

First place in two-wheel drive went to Simon Dube and Philippe Poirier. The VW Golf crew was the fastest in class by some margin, beating several four-wheel drive cars en route to their category win. It should also be mentioned that by winning his class at Baie, Dube doubled his lead in the 2wd category.

Olivier Guite and Martin Noel finished in second place in the first of two Dodge SRT-4s on the podium. After a rough start, the pair eventually recovered by the end of the first day, and maintained second throughout day two's stages.

Raphael Guite and Nancy Frigon crewed the second SRT-4 in the top 3. Guite originally challenged fellow SRT-4 driver Chris Greenhouse through much of the first day. But with Greenhouse retiring due to mechanical issues, and Dube finding his rhythm, Guite and Frigon eventually dropped back and settled for the final podium spot.

After the long break between last weekend's Rallye Baie des Chaleurs and Rallye Perce Neige in February, the Canadian Rally Championship once again has a significant hiatus until Rallye Defi in September. The third Quebec event marks the halfway point in the CRC season, before the series heads west for the Rocky Mountain Rally and the Pacific Forest Rally.