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Correcting Skids

This discussion would not be complete without a discussion of how the racing driver should react to excessive over/understeer.

Because of its unstable nature, oversteer requires quick reactions to control. Assuming the situation has been caused by acceleration in a car driven by its rear wheels, there are two remedies. Firstly, reduce the accelerating force so that the traction is further within the limit. Secondly, to deliberately steer a wider circle than the car is intended to take (`apply opposite lock').

The situation is different for a car driven by its front wheels since oversteer is only caused by excess weight transfer during braking. Applying the driving force of the engine will reassert the balance of the car.

Understeer cannot be corrected by increasing the steering angle of the front wheels. This simply increases the requested cornering force, making the front wheels lose traction completely. The correct procedure is to steer less, and brake to slow the car. Travelling more slowly, the cornering forces are considerably reduced, and even though a tighter corner must now be turned, it is probable that enough traction will be available.

Richard Bower
Thursday October 8 16:09:30 BST 1998