Tyre Tales 5: Motorsport is tough on tyres
Motorsport is tough on tyres, much tougher than road driving, so, what lessons can be learned from the racetrack?
We’ve recently given away $500 worth of tyres to one lucky winner. All you had to do was write in with your tyre experiences, and our team has picked the one we felt had the best lesson for others. But we’ve published most of the entries because there’s something in there for everyone.
It doesn’t take an expert to work out what happens next. The tyres got hot. After all, I was driving a heavy, long wheelbase RWD car with a decent amount of power which begged to go sideways at the slightest invitation. The pressures increased, too much, oversteer ensued at speeds I wasn’t prepared for. I lost control, the tyres hit the ripple strip sideways, wrenching them off the bead on one side of the car, getting the car airborne, tense fractions of a second staring at the sky before coming to a stop (window open) with a car full of grass and dirt. It wasn’t until I restarted the car and tried to drive back onto the circuit that I realised something wasn’t right. My tyres were literally wedged between the inner body of the wheel arch and half way on the rims. A decent effort. Apparently it looked spectacular, I was very close to rolling the car had it not dug into the ground when it landed. Unfortunately no video footage exists, but the memory remains. You don’t forget nearly writing the car, and yourself off through one simple mistake. What I took away from the experience? Minor damage to the car, having to sit out the entire day and wait until it ended until specialist retrieval equipment could lift my car that had sunken into the soft ground and the humiliation of driving home on two mismatched space saver wheels. But the real lesson that I took away – take advice from experts, not just a guy who read it somewhere on the Internet.
Moral of the story? Use good tyres, regardless of whether you are on the road or track. Also, don’t turn the ABS off (unless the big boss says so).
Tyres are the most misunderstood part of any vehicle, sure we have people that are not mechanics and would not even dream of opening the bonnet to check the oil or water or heaven forbid what else is under that plastic cover. Tyres on the other hand, we cannot avoid looking at. They are at every corner of the vehicle after all. However, checking tyre pressures and visually inspecting the tyres for any sign of damage, seems to also fall intothe realm of ‘let’s not go there’. If it looks like it has air in it and it looks reasonably round, then it’s ‘good to go’ seems to be the attitude of most motorists.
However, if you mention actual money and dollars that are being wasted unnecessarily, by driving around on under inflated tyres then people suddenly start to pay attention. Now we can address the aspect of unsafe handling and braking and we still have their attention.
Now lets talk about checking those pressures again, this time with a little practical demonstration. It does after all, only take a few seconds per tyre. Oh and don’t forget to check the spare whilst you are at it.
Wow, have we progressed, now we can talk about buying the right tyres fro your vehicle. Oh how I love this job. Education not legislation. That is the key to a safer driver.
The Xdrive Team
Got any more tyre questions? Ask away!