On Saturday the 17th of November we had our annual Bridgestone BMW Driving Experience training and fun autocross challenge day at the Zwartkops skidpan.
The very capable duo of BMW Driving Experience instructors of Ronaldo Verolini and yes, you Guessed it, Matthew Pearce were on duty to coordinate the day and guide the participants with mastering the art of controlling an oversteer situation, or “drifting” as it’s more commonly referred to these days.
We had a mix of both BMW and non-BMW drivers, and also highly experienced autocrossers and some rookies that have had their driving licenses for only a short while. This event is highly recommendable, and offers great value for money, to those that are relatively inexperienced and new to driving. It teaches participants the skills that I believe we all should actually be learning when we get a driving license -the art of car control in an out of control situation.
The BDE instructors were very accommodating and gave all participants the opportunity to either use their own vehicle or one of the BMW Driving Experience F30 320d’s. They first demonstrated how it should be done, by doing some synchronized oversteer “dancing” on the skidpan, before letting the participants loose… with all driver aids such as DSC turned off, participants had to do two clockwise loops and then two anti-clockwise loops and try as best as possible to hold the slide for a full circle around the skidpan.
The brief is to stay in first gear at about 3 000 rpm then turn sharply right (for clockwise) or left (for anti-clockwise) and simultaneously floor the accelerator and then try to control the drift, the secret being to be smooth and decisive with driver inputs. After a few initial failed attempts at getting the “feel” for controlling an oversteer situation, quite a few of the participants did very well and were able to hold the drift for quite a while, much to the entertainment of the spectators!
With the oversteer practice completed, it was time for the gymkhana event, where even the most docile of driver’s competitive streak always comes out. The BDE instructors laid out a course where the participants would have to put the oversteer practice into, well, practice. With the skidpan divided in half and mirror tracks set up on each side, participants would set off simultaneously by negotiating a slalom of cones before a sharp left, followed by another sharp right, and back through the slalom cones and into the four cone garage, where you started from. If you knock over a cone, or not come to a stop accurately between the four “garage” cones, you get a two second penalty.
Each driver got two timed runs, one on each side of the course, and the overall time was determined by the average of the two runs. To level the playing field all the runs were done in the BMW Driving Experience 320d’s. Jonathan Matos was the quickest on the day, and got top honours.
All the photos of the day can be found on the Racepics.co.za website by clicking HERE, where the photos can also be purchased.
A fun day was had by all. A big thank you to BMW Driving Experience and Bridgestone for making the day possible. This was but just a small taster of the fantastic courses they offer. Please check out www.BMWDrivingExperience.co.zafor further information.