CASC-OR / TOYO TIRES / SPDA Advanced Driving Clinic

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We Learn a Few New Things in the New Hyundai Genesis Coupe

When it comes to zipping around the highway, everyone behind the wheel of something sporty thinks they are a pro. However, when there is a situation where tires lose adhesion and the momentum changes direction other than in a straight line, most drivers just don’t know what to do at IMG_5183_optthat point. Perhaps it is due to inclement weather conditions or accident avoidance, all four tires aren’t always glued to the pavement. So whether it is a road application, or you are looking to hone your skills for the next track day, a car control school is the place to start.

Although, I have loads of seat time in many different cars on tracks around the globe, there is nothing wrong with more seat time and some tips from different instructors. So when PRN was asked to participate in the CASC-OR/Toyo Tires/SPDA Advanced Driving Clinic, we immediately signed up on what turned out to be an ideal weekend. The lead instructor, Joe Trinidad wanted to get the PRN perspective on the school from a participation level rather than from the outside. “We want PRN to be onboard as students and evaluate how we run the school,” says Trinidad. “We want your input good or bad to improve upon the program.”

After being enrolled, Hyundai Canada graciously supplied us with the hardware, a 2009 3.8GT Genesis Coupe. This 306hp rear-wheel drive sportscar would provide to be a formidable AutoX car, even with all stock equipment.

Sanctioned by CASC-OR and organized by SPDA-online.ca, the event was well attended. There were a wealth of instructors from many of the CASC-OR members, including the: Honda Acura Drivers Associaion,Mazda Sportscar Owners Club, Western Ontario Sports Car Association and Twin Lakes Motor Club and many more. With all of that talent behind the clinic, everyone from beginner to intermediate would walk away with more knowledge than they brought. Since I had met many of these instructors at various track events before, I knew there would be lots to learn to get around the courseIMG_5198_opt faster.

The first day focused on assisting the driver to get more acquainted with the cars that they know and love. The exercises held throughout the day were aimed to instill confidence in the student and teach them about how to explore the limits of their cars in a safe and controlled environment. There is no place on public roads for this type of driving and Ontario’s new stunt driving laws mean that you can be charged for practicing maneuvers like this on the street.

Lead instructor, Trinidad drove that point home by saying “We operate a safe environment for these important skills to be learned. You can’t do this type of stuff on the street.” After his 30 minute presentation on theory, it was time to get out and burn off some tires but first, the school had a few tips for would-be racers:

• Remove all loose items from the car

• Remove all floor mats

• Clean out the contents of the floor & trunk

• Check the oil level and top it up

• Check tires for cords or any bald areas

• Pump up the tires 10 Psi above normal

• Check wheel lug nuts and torque specs

The Skidpad

A skidpad is easy to set up and run on any parking lot and the SPDA crew set up a few perfect circles. Participants were then instructed to round the skidpad as fast as possible and induce some understeer (or plow) with the front tires. This occurs when the front tires lose adhesion and widen 2009_04_25-School_6139_optthe radius of the turn. Students were taught that less throttle made the car hug the pylons closer and that more throttle made them go wider. The following exercise was to induce some oversteer, which was far easier for the RWD vehicles and a couple advanced dirvers were able to drift the skidpad several times over!

Figure-8s

After the single skidpad exercise, the instruction moved to twin skidpads to form a figure-8. Here students could test their abilities both clockwise and counter-clockwise. The aim was to find the balance between oversteer and understeer where that limit of grip was for the fastest way around the figure-8. The turning-point was where the weight transfer of the car in between the circles affected the car’s handling and how students reacted to it.

Acceleration & Threshold Braking

With today’s Traction Control and ABS systems, many drivers are not proficient in proper acceleration and threshold braking techniques. Basically, with these systems most drivers tend to stab the throttle and brakes to get the car to perform. However, with the Traction Control and ABS systems disengaged, the task was to get the car up to 70km/h (we hit 90km/h) with minimal wheelspin and then jam the brakes enough without locking up. The key to this exercise is don’t jam the pedals but apply even pressure, see how the car reacts and then add or subtract pedal force.

Parallel Slalom

2009_04_25-School_6573_optThis exercise was one of the tougher ones, well to go fast anyway. The cones were set up in a tight slalom and a marshal at the last cone signaled with a flag to skip cones. The intent here was to keep the eye focused ahead of the immediate surroundings. The marshal saw that we were going for some 60km/h + attempts and really tried to mix up the program with the flags. In the end though PRN got the thumbs up for great reaction times.

Autoslalom Course

Finally the Autoslalom course was set up at the end of the day. The teams were tired and many were sunburnt but the drivers’ will to perform at the limit was still there. The course featured a variety of right and left handers with a few elevation changes in the massive parking lot. There was also a skidpad and slalom area built into the course. The approach here was to keep the tires gripping and don’t hammer the throttle early out of a turn or brake late into a turn. Smooth and consistent is the key to faster lap times. If you have some bad habits, it is best to try and undo everything you know and start again. Although I have loads of track time, my “hand positioning” and “focusing ahead” both needed work. I shuffled too much with my hands, which can create a bit of a bungle at times. As well, when it came to looking ahead, I was too focused on the immediate corner than those proceeding. By not doing this effectively, you aren’t setting up ideally for the following corners by getting off the line.

Day 2

The second day of the SPDA Advanced Autoslalom was dedicated to stringing together all of the skills from the first day. The focus was on increasing driver confidence through setup techniques. Higher speed ingress and egress techniques were all applied to shave down lap times. The aim was again to teach the student to look farther ahead and to plan their course 2-4 turns in advance.

All in all, the SPDA training was rewarding and fun. Drivers from novice and up can learn something from the dozen or so volunteer instructors of CASC member clubs ‘cause these guys are that fast!

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