2 wheels off

Whether it’s traffic, debris, exuberance, or incompetence, sometimes you may end up with two wheels off the track. This is a dangerous situation if you don’t know how to handle it. The knee-jerk reaction is to turn the wheel more to stay on track. But this is exactly the wrong thing to do.

At 0:31, the driver could have solved this gracefully by straightening out the wheel in preparation going for 2 wheels off. This lowers the side-loading on the car. The outside tires have most of the grip, and once in the dirt, they have almost no grip. It’s impossible to make a 0.9 G turn when you have 0.2 G grip. By 0:32 the car is entering a spin. At this point, the driver could have locked up the brakes and the car would have spun in the original direction. But the driver tries to save it with a countersteer. By the time he realizes it’s not going to work and locks the brakes at 0:33, the car is headed towards the wall and the inevitable misery that follows.

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