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MCS R53 Red and Whitey
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Discussion Starter #1
Who/what/where/when do the more seasoned board members recommend for driver training?

I have only crashed once and that was on a wet bend/speed/fish tailing/hedge/BMW/oops etc and still dont really know what the difference is between understeer/oversteer and more importantly how to correct it at speed on either a dry or wet surface.

So how can I make myself a better driver and experience both my mini and my own limits in a 'safe' environment?

UK UK UK
 

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Turbo Schmurbo...
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822 Posts
At the risk of jinxing myself I've always found a little throttle and a some left foot braking while correcting any over-steer has got me out of most back end slides without any fuss in the Mini, of course most understeer is corrected by oversteer in the Mini anyway so they go hand in hand.

Being FWD you can use throttle to "scrabble for grip" often pulling the car out of a slide... something you can't do sidesways in the wet in a RWD beemer lol ;)

As for where to try it, not much opportunity on the road (although on occasion I have found nice wide roundabouts at 6am ;) )... theres plenty of Driver skills and skid pan days in the UK so stick something like that in google and you'll be away. Don't think they are cheap tho...
 

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Rocking the F57
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For the first timer, I'd recommend booking in on a track day at Bedford Autodrome - its a big airfield circuit with huge run off areas, so if you do get it wrong, the worst that can happen is you get some mud on your wheels ;)

Bruntingthorpe is also good, but some have complained in the past about the surface, and stone chips ;)

Sign up for some expert tuition - one on one basis. You'll learn a lot in a short space of time, as well as finding the limits of both your ability, and your MINIs ability within a safe environment :)

Once you start making progress, and understand track position, braking, racing lines etc, sign up for some other days at various tracks in some other cars. Driving a range of varieties will teach you the difference between RWD, FWD and 4WD handling, driving cars on the limit etc.

The if you want to learn skid control, you'll need a skid pan session ;)

As batou said, all these days can cost a fortune, but the only way in truth to improve your skills if off the public highway ;)
 

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24hr
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248 Posts
I've used these guys before and it was a very good course.
Driver Development Programme - Advanced car control & handling courses for road, track day, circuit & race drivers of all abilities.
The course is run at Prodrive's track facility and includes a part of the day on a calibrated skid pan. As you use your own car you don't then have to try and translate the learning from one car to another. I think it's gone up recently but it should be around £300 for the day and it did include a good lunch.
 

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XR3i / JCW MCS
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543 Posts
best bet is do do some skid pan time to get used to what happens when it goes wrong and then some track time with and without an instructor
 

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I've used these guys before and it was a very good course.
Driver Development Programme - Advanced car control & handling courses for road, track day, circuit & race drivers of all abilities.
The course is run at Prodrive's track facility and includes a part of the day on a calibrated skid pan. As you use your own car you don't then have to try and translate the learning from one car to another. I think it's gone up recently but it should be around £300 for the day and it did include a good lunch.
That looks really good
 

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i would say track day with an instructor firstly. For on road driving, Second as many of us probably know is the local industrial estate late at night,, not that i ever used to race round there at all. But you can only push your car if you know the signs of when its going to let go or spin out on you. the only way of finding this out is to actually push it to the limits.

Airfield Track days are also great for this, lots of the RAF and USAF bases hire out to car clubs for track days, nothing to hit and real good fun

IAM is also very good, Thats the Institute of advanced motoring. Will help improve you perception of roads and learning more about car placement on the road, and more importantly how others will react to you.

And then for your winter driving i would say go do an off road course. i did and even in the mini you'd be surprised how useful its been, it rescued me when i tried to get out of our very muddy le mans site this year and also helped during the snow.

The rest is just experience. It takes years of driving to become a good driver
 

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i would say track day with an instructor firstly. For on road driving, Second as many of us probably know is the local industrial estate late at night,, not that i ever used to race round there at all. But you can only push your car if you know the signs of when its going to let go or spin out on you. the only way of finding this out is to actually push it to the limits.

Airfield Track days are also great for this, lots of the RAF and USAF bases hire out to car clubs for track days, nothing to hit and real good fun

IAM is also very good, Thats the Institute of advanced motoring. Will help improve you perception of roads and learning more about car placement on the road, and more importantly how others will react to you.

And then for your winter driving i would say go do an off road course. i did and even in the mini you'd be surprised how useful its been, it rescued me when i tried to get out of our very muddy le mans site this year and also helped during the snow.

The rest is just experience. It takes years of driving to become a good driver
 

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MINI2 Rebirth
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149 Posts
No-one's really addressed the basic oversteer / understeer issues on here. Obviously best explained by an instructor on a course where you can experience it, but should you have a horrible over/understeery moment on your way to the course, this is broadly what you should do :)

Oversteer is where the back end of the car skids out. This can occur in any car when you come into a corner fast and lift off the throttle half way through it. Some cars are more prone than others. It can also occur in a RWD drive car if you boot the throttle whilst steering. In order to correct the slide, you need to turn into the direction of the slide - i.e, if you're turning left and you lose the back end, you need to turn the steering wheel to the right. Sudden, ragged movements aren't recommended - you need to feel how much correction is required, and this really only comes with practice.

Understeer occurs when the front of the car fails to turn in as sharply as it should. It's as if it just skids straight on. This can occur on the entry to the corner if you've come in too quick or the surface isn't very grippy. It can also occur under power during a corner in FWD cars. The answer in the second case is to apply less throttle, in the first case to make sure your braking is done in advance of the corner.

As a general rule, do all your braking in a straight line before the corner (unless we start talking about some fairly advanced driving techniques which aren't really appropriate for this thread) and then reapply the throttle throughout the course of the corner to balance the car.

Hope this all made some sense!
 

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Rocking the F57
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Oversteer = rear wheel skid
Understeer = front wheel skid

Plenty of people have suggested skid pans above, where these are both taught in a safe controlled environment ;)
 

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Forget learnig to control a skid, concentrate on learning to drive at a safe speed!!! :eek:

And if you want instruction (good idea) then forget skid pans, track driving etc, learn to drive safely on the road, not how to hold a lairy tail out slide with "a combination of throttle and left foot braking" (Jeeza, I hope I never meet that guy coming the other way! :rolleyes:)

John Lyons has been mentioned, I've heard he's good. Also Performance driving and Specialist driver training for commercial and private road users - Drivetrain are highly recommended. Failing that, a lot of driving instructors offer advanced driver training.

Seriously, any driver remotely good should never ever get anywhere near a skid on public roads.

Sounds like a lot of people on here could do with some professional fast road training. :confused:
 

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owt else is just traffic
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It's nice to see someone honest on here who admits to not being an all knowing bloke who knows everything and is a driving God.Well done...there aren't many of you types around:biggrin:
 

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MINI2 Rebirth
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Forget learnig to control a skid, concentrate on learning to drive at a safe speed!!! :eek:

And if you want instruction (good idea) then forget skid pans, track driving etc, learn to drive safely on the road, not how to hold a lairy tail out slide with "a combination of throttle and left foot braking" (Jeeza, I hope I never meet that guy coming the other way! :rolleyes:)

Seriously, any driver remotely good should never ever get anywhere near a skid on public roads.

Sounds like a lot of people on here could do with some professional fast road training. :confused:
I'm not suggesting that knowing how to control a skid, should it occur, means that you drive in a way that means you're always on the limit of grip of the vehicle!

Knowing how to control a car when it loses grip is very important even if you always drive well within the car's limits - otherwise what happens if you have to swerve to avoid something and find yourself fishtailing? Or you hit black ice or a patch of oil and find the car going straight on...
Simply freezing because you don't have the knowledge or skills isn't the position I'd like to find myself in!

And besides - if you've never had the tyres squealing on a big empty roundabout then you haven't really enjoyed your Mini :D
 

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Back In A Clubman 23yr On
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I'm not suggesting that knowing how to control a skid, should it occur, means that you drive in a way that means you're always on the limit of grip of the vehicle!
The problem probably arises with the title of the thread then. It starts with "Driving Outside Your Comfort Zone" when may be "reacting to a completely unforeseen situation 'cos obviously I'm not suggesting driving on the limit of physics" would have been better??

Drivetrain do indeed come very highly recommended. One of the first things that professional "road" instructors will address is attitude towards both speed and risk. This is followed by a large chunk of "learning to look ahead properly and allowing yourself both time and distance to react to both actual and potential dangers".

If neither of things particularly interest you, then I would echo the advice given by many on this thread already.....that being, to treat yourself to a fantastic days tuition on a race track...learning to drive appropriately for that particular environment.

I understand that my view here may not be a popular one (I stand in the corner with Professor Peach). :eek:
 

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I'm not suggesting that knowing how to control a skid, should it occur, means that you drive in a way that means you're always on the limit of grip of the vehicle!
Look at the title of the thread Driving Outside Your Comfort Zone. What does that suggest to you?


Knowing how to control a car when it loses grip is very important even if you always drive well within the car's limits - otherwise what happens if you have to swerve to avoid something and find yourself fishtailing? Or you hit black ice or a patch of oil and find the car going straight on...
Simply freezing because you don't have the knowledge or skills isn't the position I'd like to find myself in!
That is what DSP is for (now standard on the Cooper S, should be across the range and should be the first option anyone ticks if it's not). DSP will do things the best driver in the world could never do (like brake individual wheels to help pull a car out of a skid). But having said that, I've never accidently got myself into the position of needing it.

And besides - if you've never had the tyres squealing on a big empty roundabout then you haven't really enjoyed your Mini :D

Aaahh, well that's different!! ;)
 

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nothing wrong with an industrial "empty carpark", lots of snow and ice. Then you will come to respect, the forces of nature and your limited abilty to use them to your advantage.
 
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