Chances are if you’re reading this, you’ve lost control of a car at some point. You’re probably a car enthusiast, which means you’ve got an idea of what it’s like when things can go wrong because you, like me, like or at least once liked driving quickly. And once or maybe twice (or more), you overcooked it a bit.
While it stung on that day, now, that experience translates into an ever-lasting memory that could one day help you to make an informed decision as to what to do, should things go wrong behind the wheel again.
The same can’t be said for a very large portion of the British public. Your average motorist isn’t likely to be tempted into increasing apex speeds or ‘getting the arse out’, so they likely won’t understand what understeer or oversteer is. This means they’ll have little idea of what to do should they encounter either of them.
That’s why I’m proposing that we should follow suit of the Finnish and introduce skid pans to the UK driving test. For those not (un)lucky enough to have stuffed it into a hedge as a teenager, taking them to a safe, controlled and extremely lubricated environment provides them with the perfect place to experience how it happens.
Why am I harking on about this? I returned from such an experience yesterday, where I spent my first day on a proper skid pan at Thruxton’s state-of-the-art facility beside the famous racing track. I took my long-termer Subaru BRZ – because rear-wheel drive sports car – to see what all the fuss was about and - what an eye-opener.
I have always considered myself to be at least fairly handy behind the wheel, but on the skid pan, I had no answers for the ice-like surface. I’ve seen footage of people driving on ice, with standard tyres, elegantly. But I spent much of the afternoon rotating on a pivot that seemed to be bolted to the car’s bonnet badge.