Yesterday, I delivered my first ClubDriving mentoring session in advanced driving.
I’m listed as the Club’s Buckinghamsire mentor, but as my fellow members of the High Performance Club know, I have some work to do before I can claim true driving mastery. It’s a testament to the minimum standard required for the HPC that I seem to have provided some useful coaching.
It was a good morning in beautiful weather. We set off in my Saab, aiming for quality and consistency before swapping to the other fellow’s SLK for his drive, which was solid advanced stuff.
I was reminded that one of the key ideas to help me has been Don Palmer’s description of steering by hinting. Many people steer abruptly, not realizing that the tyre side walls flex and that the car can’t change direction instantly. It’s a good recipe for understeer, particularly when short of grip, perhaps in adverse conditions or on track.
When you turn the wheel – assuming your car isn’t worn out – the wheels turn instantly, but notice that you can wiggle the steering wheel gently without steering the car. Where does the movement go? Into the sidewalls.
A tyre takes about a third of a second to respond to a torque applied by the wheels across the tyre, then the tyre starts pushing the front of the car sideways, against its momentum. I love the physics, but I won’t bore you right now. Suffice to say, move the wheel more progressively, earlier, and you will see an immediate and developing improvement in the smoothness of your driving.
And anyone who is any good will tell you that smoothness improves safety and enables speed. On track of course.