Basic drifting techniques for beginners.
"A slideways glance"
Drifting is an art. Getting a car to go sideways requires a delicate balancing act involving skill and concentration. The basic starting point is a suitably equipped and tuned RWD car with a locked rear diff.
NEVER EVER ATTEMPT TO DRIFT ON A PUBLIC ROAD OR IN A PUBLIC AREA. Many clubs and tracks offer a safe venue for drift practice.
TorqueCars will cover the most popular drift techniques which generally combine and link together to create the other more advanced techniques. Once you have learnt a few methods you can combine them and find your personal style. With experience you will also be able to take into consideration the car setup and the track and apex conditions to get the perfect drift. The better you get the faster you can drift and the more fluid your drift will be.
Some techniques only really become effective at higher speeds. These techniques should not be attempted until you have attained a solid level of drift control at slower speeds and can control the car's direction during a drift.
Power over - Using a burst of throttle to cause a power surge making the rear wheels lose traction. Hard acceleration will cause the rear wheels to spin faster than the speed of the car and this loss of traction effectively causes the rear of the car to go light and slide. If you are steering into a bend the back will go wide, if you are traveling straight a steering motion will start the drift in the desired direction.
Feint - Steering into a corner then, as the car is just about to settle into the bend, a flick of the steering in the other direction will upset the car's traction causing the rear to break free. The Scandinavian flick, as popularized in the world of rally, is a very similar technique. This feint technique makes it possible to drift a front wheel drive car provided you have enough speed. It is also possible to drift a car by using the inertia caused by deceleration into a bend without using the Feint known as lift off oversteer but this is not technically a drift at all.
Clutch Kick - Dipping the clutch to disengage the engine then reapplying it suddenly. The aim here is to use the different engine to road speed (either higher or sometimes lower) to initiate an over steer skid which can be held in a drift. You will need a heavy duty clutch and driveshaft for this or the strain is likely to cause the drivetrain, gearbox or diff to fail prematurely.
Handbrake - Depending on your speed and the apex of the bend, you can use the handbrake to initiate a drift. It is a useful way to break the rear traction, saving wear on the clutch and drivetrain. You can combine this with the other methods to catch and continue a drift otherwise the car will slow up or spin out. This is also what kids with FWD cars do in supermarket car parks - not cool and definitely not drifting - the aim is for a sustained controlled drift.
Once you have started to drift you need to keep the car balanced. Gentle and progressive control is key. Steering motions must be fluid not jerky. Your throttle application also needs to be progressive and steady.
This is what distinguishes a pro from an amateur. Having this kind of feel for the balance of your car comes from hours of practice but gradually it will become second nature.
To stop an over steer skid you steer into the direction of the rear skid, so if the rear slides out to the left, you have steer to the left in order to catch this and prevent a spin. To make an over steer skid worse you steer in the opposite direction to the rear skid, so if the rear slides out to the left, steer to the right to make it worse and create a spin! In drifting you want to maintain the delicate balance between over steer and running straight.
What if you overcook it and the car spins? Don't panic! The car will usually complete a 180 degree turn and then come to a stop. As soon as the car has lost its speed apply the brake to prevent the car rolling into a barrier or worse still another driver.
The holy grail of drifting is a long "driftlock" - being able to hold a steady drift vector for as long as possible at a fast pace. The greater the angle and faster the drift the more points are awarded. In-car GPS measures the angle and speed of drift and allows an easily judgeable benchmark for practice runs. Most competitions have judges who award points on speed, style and angle of drift.
Feel free to join us in our tuning forum and discuss drifting techniques (if you are a serious drifter), read up on drift events and all aspects of drift car setup with our resident drifting fanatics and fans.
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