Theory: A tyre grips the road up to a maximum point of adhesion, when this point is exceeded the tyre will start to slide until adhesion is restored. So finding and pushing just beyond the point of adhesion is the name of the game.
Once a car begins to drift driver control comes into play – the exact amount of turn on the steering wheel towards the direction of travel to catch and control the drift. At precisely the right moment you have to catch the drift with a measure of opposite lock and use the throttle and steering to control the drift – a sustained drift
on a straight is called ‘drift lock’.
Rear wheel drive cars are the only choice for drifting particularly higher-powered models but one of the key requirements is a limited slip diff. We've seen really impressive drifts from low powered cars. A quick burst of acceleration at the right moment is just enough to break the adhesion of the back of the car.
As a car decelerates the weight is thrown to the front wheels that is why the wheels lock up under heavy breaking. A front wheel drive car is harder to drift in but uses deceleration to lighten the back of the car and
make it swing wide.
To perform a left tail drift in a front drive car – build up the speed. Decelerate fairly heavily but performing a simultaneous right flick on the steering wheel – a shock wave will shoot through the car (you can feel it happen there is no easy way to explain it.) As this shock wave passes the centre point of the car steer into the direction of the tail drift, if the tail does not swing out then a short flick of the handbrake will start the drift.
We then need to catch the drift and control it using gentle throttle control and smooth steering - opposite lock (so steer to the right, just enough to keep the drift going but without overcooking things causing a spin and without undercooking throwing the drift in the opposite direction.)
The following are the main drifting techniques and most are used in combination with each other.
To make the car start to slide you dip or kick the clutch suddenly causing the car to temporarily lose traction and starting a rear wheel slide whilst on or entering a bend. Effectively using engine braking - when the clutch is dipped engine speed drops when clutch is released the wheels are moving faster than the lower engine speed requires causing a pull and breaking traction. Alternative a blip of the throttle raises the engine speed so when the clutch is released the driven wheels spin faster than they should so traction is broken.
Dirt Drop Drift
This technique is banned on most tracks. You allow the rear wheels to leave the tarmac surface into a lower grip one such as dirt, gravel or grass. The cars speed will remain pretty stable through this technique as the rear tyre friction is much lower.
Similar to a Dirt Drop Drift again banned on most tracks. The rear wheels hit the rumble strip at the side of the track. The vibration is enough to upset the delicate balance of grip momentum and traction and the rear of the car slides.
The easiest technique, used by beginners and pros to initate a drift and pretty much the only guaranteed way of sliding a FWD (front wheel drive) car (Its still not a proper drift though!). The handbrake is jabbed on causing the rear wheels to lock up and slide. When a slide is attained the handbrake is released allowing more control of the car and preventing too much loss of speed.
Requires a feel for the balance of a car and needs you to sense the shockwave of swing as it flows through the car. Coming up to a right hand bend you steer to the left. Then as the back of the car moves left you steer to the right, the back of the car loses traction and starts to drift, then you countersteer and catch the drift. This is a popular technique and is often combined with other techniques, like the clutch kick, to help break the rear traction. Practice this one in large open areas.
This requires a lot of speed. Approaching a bend you need to decelerate throwing the weight of the car to the front wheels. When the back wheels become light you can steer the front into the bend and let the back wheels drift. Control is maintained with careful steering control and throttle inputs. A good technique to start drifting but requires experience as the speed involved is not very forgiving.