What the pros are saying about Antoine L’Estage
“There’s a whole pile of stuff that makes Antoine special. He’s an unbelievably capable driver, and he doesn’t take it for granted.”
Antoine L’Estage has earned the deep respect of many key players in North American rallying throughout his career. Here’s what mentors, co-drivers, series organizers and sponsors are saying about his unparalleled success.
TERRY EPP, national series manager for the Canadian Rally Championship and former co-driver: “When Antoine burst onto the scene, he had a lot of raw talent right from the word go. He could put the car in places no one else could. He always could figure out the fastest way through combinations of corners.
“He had a fierceness about himself in terms of determination. He also displayed a winner’s mentality. It’s a very rare concept, but it’s something in the intensity of their eyes, their spirit, and the way they go about things.
“In my mind, he is the strongest and the most reliable rallyist in North America.”
JOHN HALL, president of the Canadian Association of Rallysport and professional co-driver: “There’s a whole pile of stuff that makes Antoine special. He’s an unbelievably capable driver, and he doesn’t take it for granted.
“He obviously has a huge amount of skill. The guy has been involved with rally all his life and has developed that skill over time. But on top of that he just is so dedicated, so committed to improvement and to doing the best he possibly can. He dedicates immense amounts of time to preparation for rallies. He’s physically fit. He stays healthy and he works out all the time.
“He works very, very hard to stay there and to have that edge.”
JOHN BUFFUM, all-time winningest American rally driver turned car builder and mentor to L’Estage: “Antoine is really good. During his pre-course check he’s able to have his co-driver write down (notes) and he’s able to be quite precise about what the corner looks like. When the co-driver reads back, he knows very well what it means as opposed to some other people who can’t describe at 30 miles an hour what they’re going to see at 90 miles an hour.
“Antoine is very fit. Your physical exertion over the 12- or 14-hour period that you’re rallying, even though you get some rest breaks, it still builds up on you. If you’re in good physical shape, that helps your mental ability. And it does take some physical strength, especially over the longer term.”
ALAN OCKWELL, co-driver with 14 years of experience who has competed with L’Estage since the second race of this season: “He’s well-organized in terms of his natural personality, and I think his driving style reflects that as well. He’s extremely clean and tidy behind the wheel. He doesn’t slide the car very much. It’s not a spectacular driving style, but it’s extremely efficient. There’s no wasted movement with the car. I think that translates into good stage times and good speed.
“His driving style translates very well to different types of surfaces, too. We start the year in February at a full snow event in Quebec, and then we do everything from high-speed dry gravel to nasty, slippy, muddy, cold and wet conditions and the odd pavement stage here and there. Because he doesn’t try to pitch the car everywhere, he’s able to go fast anywhere. He’s always competitive.”
TREVOR LONGLEY, senior director of sales and marketing for Yokohama Canada: “This is a guy who’s got some serious talent. Sometimes we have a tendency to not put (Canadians) where they deserve in terms of the respect that they go out and build for themselves. This guy is truly world-class in his driving abilities.
“To be able to partner with a guy like Antoine who really can display the full benefit of what our tire technology is capable of and push things to the limit is a pretty special partnership.”