When I began to instruct on test days, I was genuinely surprised by the number of drivers who used incorrect hand placement. Feeding the wheel, going hand over hand and letting the wheel self-correct were all bad habits which drivers had picked up from regular day-to-day driving.
Now, you might wonder what the big deal is, but the problem with taking even one hand off the wheel is that you lose that vital connection with the front tyres. The correct technique is to keep your hands at nine and three at all times, even if that means crossing your arms. That way, you can feel what the front end is doing and you can add steering input smoothly and progressively.
If you do need to let go of the wheel (through a hairpin for example) your hands should always return to the nine or three position. This technique becomes second nature after a few sessions of track driving.
Playing your favourite song while driving fast might be enjoyable, but it has a detrimental effect on your ability to focus. This was demonstrated by research conducted by the Memorial University in Canada, which showed a direct link between volume and reaction time.
Incredibly, when the music was played at 95 decibels, reaction times increased by 20 per cent across all participants; not ideal. Additionally, loud music can also mask the noise of your engine, which can make judging speed and shift points far more difficult. So if you’re going to attack the canyons this weekend, make sure to turn your music off.
It might sound obvious, but finding the optimum seating position is one of the first things you’ll be told by a racing instructor. Thankfully, finding the correct position is fairly straightforward.
Start by depressing the clutch to the end of its travel. Your leg should be slightly bent; if your leg is straight you need to move your seat forward. Once this is sorted, focus on your arms. You should be able to rest your wrists on the top of the steering wheel with your arms still slightly kinked. Use your reclining adjustor to tailor your position.
If done properly you should be able to reach the pedals, gearstick and steering wheel comfortably.
This might sound straightforward, but it’s something that causes a great deal of accidents on road and track. Ultimately, if you’re reacting to the corner as you enter it, you’re already too late.
The most important thing is to consciously raise your line of sight; in other words, you need to look as far ahead as possible. Not only does this slow down the rate of objects coming towards you, it also forces you to anticipate the next bend. Remember the old adage: “look where you want to go”. When you approach a corner, you should visualise the line you need to take, using the vanishing point to judge when to get on the throttle - i.e. holding the throttle steady through the corner to keep the car balanced.
When driving a performance car (or bike) quickly the vehicle should always be accelerating or decelerating; if you’re mid-corner and using no throttle or brake, the car will become unbalanced as weight shifts around. The majority of spins in the video below are caused by the drivers failing to use a trailing throttle.
If you’re going to drive fast on the road, picking the right time and place is essential. Bikers have embraced this idea for years, but the concept is lost on a number of drivers. For example, a great number of sportsbike riders wouldn’t dream of blasting around towns, cities or country lanes on a busy afternoon.
Instead, they’ll get up extra early to avoid the police and slow moving weekend drivers. Why don’t more four-wheeled enthusiasts do the same?