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Antoine L'Estage Shares his Top Three Driving Tips

These pointers from Antoine L’Estage will help you hone your skills behind the wheel

Antoine Lestage portrait

The country’s lifetime leader in rally wins, Antoine L’Estage is known for going hard, regardless of weather or terrain. “I have confidence. I’ve done rally racing for a very long time. I know what my tires can do right from the first minute,” he says. L’Estage, who won every event during the 2014 season and last year raced with Subaru Canada, also isn’t shy about sharing the secrets to his success. While the following tips were hard learned through rallying, they’re applicable to everyday commuters too.

1. Anticipate it

“The first thing I always tell people: anticipate,” says L’Estage. “So many drivers don’t think ahead to what could happen.” L’Estage—whose father was also a rally driver—learned to drive on serpentine, unpredictable country roads, where hidden driveways and patchy terrain are common and focus is essential. Highways, he adds, offer constant potential danger: any vehicle in your sightline could “hit the brakes, drift, change lanes without signaling.” Treat driving like chess: always think a few moves ahead. With just that, I think we could reduce upwards of half the accidents,” says L’Estage.

2. Feel it

It’s obvious, L’Estage says, but tires are the driver’s first point of contact with the road. “The better the tire, the better the feel—both of which will prevent accidents.” One of this pro driver’s biggest pet peeves is when car owners try to save on a new tire. He states emphatically that people should have two sets of tires, summer and winter. While they don’t need to buy the most expensive, they should not buy the cheapest, because quality will be compromised.

3. Test it

L’Estage says that a common driver mistake is taking too long to apply the brakes, if not outright misapplying them. He stresses the importance of testing the road at the beginning of the drive, particularly in slick conditions. “Brake a little bit early the first time you come to a stop sign or traffic light,” he says, to get a real feel for what the roads are like.