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Keeping it shiny-side up and out of ditches

The problem: In the winter the roads are slipperier. Lots of people complain about having crashed into a ditch having given it too much welly comming off a wet roundabout.

The explaination: The Elise is rear-wheel-drive, and has plenty of power for its weight. This can lead to oversteer, which can lead to crashing. Amateur drivers and experts who try too hard alike may find themselves going backwards unexpectedly at times.

The solution: The best defense is to know what you're doing and to take it easy. I like to apply the concept that it's better to take the corner 10mph slower and arrive at your destination three seconds later than to crash an expensive car and to not arrive at all that day. I'm not trying to tell you to drive like a granny. Just drive within your limits, the car's limits and the road's limits. Enjoy the act of chosing the perfect speed for the corner and making it through safely.

Make sure your car is well maintained too - especially tyres. Know what pressures you should be running and check them regularly. The original Pirelli P-Zero tyres are excellent in the dry but have a reputation for being scary in the wet. This reputation is only partially deserved. The P-Zero tyre is actually acceptable in the wet as long as it isn't old or worn. P-Zeros go hard over time and then lose a lot of grip in the wet. P-Zeros with little tread left will aquaplane at very low speeds. I've been running Yokohama Advan Neova LTS tyres for a while now, and they're a little better in the wet. I reckon they don't feel quite as good as the P-Zeros in the dry though. They grip about the same, but have a a slight vagueness about them. They do seem to resist aquaplaining more than the P-Zeros, especially as the tread wears out (though they obviously fail to work eventually with low tread).

The best advice I can give is to get some driver training. This is easily the most cost effective upgrade for your car. You'll go faster and hit things less often if you know more about how to drive. I've done Andy Walsh's 1st Lotus Airfield Training course many times now, and keep learning new stuff there. Head over to www.1stlotus.com for details. It's somewhere in the reigon of 120 for a full day with only three other people, and it'll be the best value education/entertainment you've ever had!

You may know that when a car starts to oversteer, you turn into the skid. What no-one tells you with that advice is that it's damn scary if you're not expecting it, and it's bloody dificult to get it right too. It's something you get absolutely no experience of in day to day driving and usually the first time it happens you'll be fighting physics to regain control of your car to save your life. The only way to adaquately prepare for this moment is to train. Seriously! Go and do some training if you never have before. You won't regret it. Better yet, training in car control is immense fun! Go and book for your own sake now!

A deeper shade of beige (ns)