Last weekend some of the team's drivers and I went up to Washington state and took the Dirt Fish, 3 day, advanced rally class. Not only was it really fun but it was also very instructive. There are a lot of differences between rally and off-road and to learn a new style of driving in a different type of car was challenging. The hardest thing to fight was the tendency to try to rear steer the AWD cars like you would in our rear engine, rear wheel drive cars. Those rally cars just hook up and go when you gas them. I came out of Dirt Fish's program with a whole bunch of new driving concepts but the three that really resonated with me where these:
1. Minimum input for your desired result.
This is pretty straight forward but when you get used to driving a certain way you just don't think about it that much. Too much turn on the wheel and your fighting to counter steer back to straight. Too much throttle and your spinning tires. Too much brake and your locked up under-steering in need of correction. The real idea is that these events build over time in an endurance event and not only are you putting yourself in more understeer and oversteer situations but ultimately wearing yourself out. Tired = slower!
2. Late apex cornering.
In rally they are big on the concept of "manufacturing straight lines". Instead of taking a classic out-in-out approach to cornering, you enter the turn later and aim for a late inside apex allowing you to come out of the corner on the inside. You've created a steeper slower turn but you've lined up a longer straight away and set up the next turn nicely if it is in the opposite direction of the last one. Slow in but fast out can be faster overall.
3. 100% rule of traction.
For the surface you're driving and the vehicles tire condition, you have so many units of traction. The car has 3 inputs: turning , brake and throttle. If your using 90% of your brakes you only have 10% steering. With a single input there is a lot to work with but when combining inputs you are adding up to that 100% quickly. When you use up your traction and the tires are locked up or spinning with no grip you're no longer controlling the car. This 100% idea is great when you realize your locked up trying to make a sharp turn. Let of a little brake and move the wheel back to straight a little and now, instead of stuck in an understeer, you're whipping the car around a 90 at speed. A spinning tire is a working tire.
Well, I just wanted to share these ideas with everyone. Also I want to thank all the staff at Dirt Fish! I highly recommend their program. I'd like to go take it again. Cross-training in motorsports is bound to improve your driving. In essence it's all traction control and controlling weight transfer no matter what type of car you're in.