There is Nothing to Fear from Oversteer
In conversation with a seasoned member, we hit upon the topic of oversteer and the toll it collects on cars, egos and possibly lives. This member opined that best way to correct a spin was to never do anything to cause it in the first place, but then we asked “how was one to know what not to do until they had spun, caused an error of monumental proportions, and come away wiser?”
It almost seems like our time spent driving is taken up by identifying and staying on the thin line that separates the car and driver’s abilities from the loss of traction. Keeping track of that thin line is forever a work in progress as the line changes based on driving conditions. How then does one deal with oversteer and correct for it? We think oversteer is bound to happen sooner or later to everyone, but it is the ones that are prepared that will be unfazed.
If you are reading this, chances are that you have recently come into possession of the car and want to learn how to enjoy driving it without breaking the wallet and pretty much anything else, as you should. At a point when most car manufacturers engineer understeer into a car, Honda went balls to the wall in designing a car that can oversteer on demand as a proper roadster should. The fact is we perceive understeer to be something that can be handled or corrected and yet all perception and logic goes out the window at the first hint of the rears kicking out.
So the solution to correct a spin is pretty much to adopt the same kind of calm mindset as one would exhibit in correcting understeer. It must become second nature to you just as you would upshift, downshift, brake or accelerate. Granted, oversteer is relatively more complex and requires more practice, but the fact is the human mind can be taught to handle it and come out of it intact. Oversteer can also be used as a tool once you have attained a level of mastery, help you control understeer, and not only help you set a fast time, but also enjoy the process of doing so.
Power oversteer occurs in a corner under acceleration when the rear tires break loose. Visualize the following scenario: you are turning left into a corner, Your foot is on the gas causing the rear tires to break lose and push to the right while tucking the front wheels in the opposite direction. Panic may cause you to slam the brakes, which would abruptly shift weight onto the front wheels thereby pivoting the car around to face the opposite direction, not something we want to do. The calmer driver would focus his eyes in the direction he intends to travel in and then lift on the throttle gently to shift a little weight onto the front wheels while at the same time turning the wheel smoothly in the direction of travel (your hands always follow your eyes so remember to look ahead), and once the front wheels have gained some traction, accelerate gently back into the planned direction.
Trailing-throttle oversteer or lift-throttle oversteer is caused when you are accelerating into a corner and mid-corner lift your foot off the gas pedal and start to feel the rear tires breaking lose. This is often caused by entering a corner too fast so its best to avoid unless you have some practice. Once practiced this can be used to combat understeer and get the car pointed in a more proper line towards where you intend to go. However when it happens inadvertently, one must step on the gas gently while turning the wheel in a smooth gradual motion towards the direction of travel.
One can also cause the rear to snap out by breaking harder while turning. The key is to start easing your foot off the brake pedal as you start to turn the wheel or trail brake. But that is another skill for another story.
The above may sound very simplistic and it could very well be second nature for those with natural talent. But even the average driver can understand and learn how to handle oversteer. It takes practice, and lots of it under the watchful eye of an instructor. In due course the fear of oversteer will diminish as one’s knowledge and experience grows.
Please be sure to sign up for an AutoX or SOLO event and listen to every word your instructor says. More importantly never forget to always keep your eyes pointed at where you want to go and not at whats in front of you. This season is as good as any for all of us to understand and embrace oversteer and we hope you start thinking about it.
Now that you’ve read the above, do you still fear oversteer? If yes, are you willing to try conquering your fear?
Tip of the hat to energetic for pics, video and suggestions.
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