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Let's drift again

01 April 2020 | Member stories

For quite some time now, the automotive industry has been very successfully producing vehicles with very effective and assistance systems that ensure safe driving. But there are drivers with such vehicles who turn off precisely these systems to make driving particularly challenging.
  • Text:
    Albrecht Wantzen
  • Photos:
    TR Fotografie

The fact is: For some time now, the automotive industry has been very successfully producing vehicles with very effective safety and assistance systems that ensure largely safe driving. This now applies not only to high-priced premium vehicles and sports cars, but also to the mid-range and even the upper compact car class. In terms of directional stability, handling and good-naturedness, car chassis offer a level of safety never before seen in driving. In addition, in recent years there have been a large number of assistance systems which, in addition to ABS and ESP, measure lane stability, alertness, the distance to the vehicle in front and behind, and much more. Depending on the situation, they even intervene in the driving condition and dynamically detect and defuse a potentially critical driving situation. These vehicle functions are either part of the basic equipment or can be acquired more or less inexpensively via an equipment list.

Why am I describing this to the interested reader? One would think that drivers would want to test how well these systems actually work. But no, far from it, there are drivers with vehicles like the one described above who take part in driving training events where precisely these electronic systems are switched off. To make driving particularly challenging, they meet on circuits covered with ice and snow. And they pay an entrance fee for it, too.

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Despite good tires needs from the driver versed on the snow.

This happened again in February 2020 at the winter and driving training of the Pistenclub in Muhr/Austria. There were three circuits of different lengths on ice and snow best prepared available. The weather was excellent and all participants were in high spirits. In the driver briefing it was again stressed that everyone should experience the fun of learning to move his vehicle in a controlled manner on a winter course, or if he already knows how to do it, to savor this driving technique.

It was also pointed out that it is possible to lead any vehicle into a controlled drift - so no excuses like "but somehow it doesn't work with my car" - and thus also to drive around the entire course more crosswise than straight ahead to the direction of travel. Who had doubts about it, so the recommendation, do not switch on again the assistance systems, one, which get themselves after some practice a controlled drift over 180 degrees or a waltz between the Slalompylonen to be able to put down. Here I must emphasize the dedicated instructors - the human assistance systems. Martin, Wolfgang, Walter and Manfred gave in their usual relaxed and humorous way the corrections needed for this dance on the snowflake and thus decisively improved the timing for braking (please with the left), steering and throttle - among other valuable tips such as seat position and the like.

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In line: The participants of the winter training get into position.

I must also mention the participants who did not even take part with a high-tech vehicle, but who competed from the outset with a vehicle without any assistance system. That's what I call "back to the roots," and it shows that this is of course the best way to learn the secrets of lateral acceleration. It made me think of the 70s with my NSU TT with a tear in my eye.

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No fear of ice and snow: the participants had fun at the winter training.

It is to be hoped that this event will remain in the program for many years to come, even if the increasingly warmer weather even in the Lungau, supposedly the coldest place in Austria, raises some doubts. But to all Pistenclub fans: as long as it goes, take the opportunity, it is an efficient and fun experience, where you can gain for your own driving technique and expand the feeling for the vehicle balance quite decisively.

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  • Albrecht Wantzen

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