So you’re there, ready, in your car waiting to go onto the tarmac. You’ve spotted a cone and you want to go in and rip the e-brake and power over. You may have noticed by this point (apart from that sentence) that I haven’t mentioned the e-brake or handbrake as I am now going to correctly call it. That’s because it’s not essential when you’re learning. It’s nice but it doesn’t help you as a driver to develop.
Anyway, the donut, in all fairness, is not as exciting as 100mph entries into huge corners or ridiculously quick and aggressive transitions but is essential to the learning process. This will be the first time you will be in control of a car sideways and it should be relatively risk free. Every corner is just a section of a donut. I have to credit Tom at Flatout Factory for that one. But he has a point, the donut seems such a basic exercise it’s true, the corners just get bigger and faster. I have broken the donut down into 5 easy steps.
1. Drive around the cone
Don’t dive straight in, this usually ends in lots of tyre smoke, loads of revs and a 180 degree spin finished off with a burnout. While in some respects, that’s pretty cool, it’s not what we are after and a huge waste of tyres. So, pop it in first gear, drive around the cone in a circle, almost on full lock ( about a quarter turn off full lock). Keep going faster until you feel the front starting to slip.
2. Lift your foot off the accelerator
Once the front starts to slip take your foot off the accelerator. This will shift all the weight to the front of the car, leaving the back of the car nice and light (lift off oversteer).
3. Get back on the accelerator
Once you’ve felt the weight shift (made visible by a passenger’s head falling forward) get straight back on the accelerator, foot to the floor. This will spin the rear wheels and they will start sliding the back of the car towards the outside of the circle.
4. Let go of the steering wheel and reduce the amount of acceleration
Once the back starts to step out, let go of the steering wheel and let it turn onto opposite lock. Reducing the accelerator to about half at the same time. Depending on setup, some cars will need some encouragement to get onto opposite lock.
5. Grab the steering wheel and slide gracefully around the cone
Once the back of the car is so far sideways that the nose of the car is more or less facing the cone, grab hold of the steering wheel and with minor adjustments to the throttle to control the angle of the car and the steering; navigating around the cone in a circle. More power will tighten the circle, less power will get you running wider.
“I got some super understeer, the rear wheels didn’t spin and the back didn’t slide I just drove off towards a barrier”
This means you didn’t give it enough gas after you came off the throttle so the back wheels gripped lifting the weight off the front and making you drive off. Try going a little bit faster around the cone until you feel the front start to slip, then be nice and aggressive getting back on the power.
“I just spun around in circles on the spot and it looked terrible”
You held onto the steering wheel for too long. Or you didn’t start to reduce the gas when you were letting go of the steering wheel.
“There was smoke everywhere and we got a good picture, didn’t feel right though”
Too much power for the steering input, feather the throttle until the car settles into the donut.
There is a less mechanically sympathetic way to do it but firstly you don’t learn as much technique as the above version and secondly it’s very abusive on your clutch. But just quickly here is the less mechanically sympathetic (wrong way):
Sit with the cone about half a meter from your front drivers side wheel, with the clutch in, rev up to about 3500rpm, add a half turn of steering lock, look at the cone and release the clutch. Take your foot off the clutch as quickly as possible. The rear wheels will spin and because of the steering the car will start turning around the cone and the back of the car will start to try and overtake the front as this is happening you want to let go of the steering wheel and let it turn onto opposite lock. Once the car is sideways on opposite lock with the rear wheels spinning, you need to use small steering and throttle inputs to keep it going around the cone. Steering a car drifting works exactly the same as steering it when it’s gripping.
This may not go to plan first, second, third or maybe even tenth time but keep at it. If you are really struggling get an instructor or a more experienced driver to sit next to you while you do it. Also when you’re happy with it move on to the figure of eight or get out onto bigger stuff. Donuts put quite a lot of strain on the car and tyres due to minimal air flow and relatively consistent high revs.
As always any questions or comments please pop them below and I will try to help out where I can. Next week I will cover the figure of 8 then we can get onto getting out on track!
This content was originally posted by a Car Throttle user on our Community platform and was not commissioned or created by the CT editorial team.
One of the best articles i have read! New follower for you!
do it with rain for more lubrication for the tire bill your gonna get.
Great article. Waiting impatiently for the next one. Keep it up!
Welcome to the 1k club
Awesome! (secretly very happy with that)