The last part of our driving tips series takes us to the tarmac. Rally driver Kris Meeke, seated behind the wheel of the Octavia RS, will give you some advice and recommendations on how to improve your driving style on tarmac. Here they are.
Optimal seating position
You'll be surprised how important an optimal seating position is for good driving. For a competitive driver, sitting in a straight position with both hands placed on the steering wheel is the key. This is the only way to be in full control of the car and react quickly to sudden situations. So, put your seatback in to an upright position, lean fully into it and move the seat so that you can rest your wrists comfortably on top of the steering wheel. That's the right distance. Hold the steering wheel in the 'three-quarter to three' position and always steer with both hands. You'll be surprised how comfortable and safe this position is. You'll get a much better feel and control of the car. Leave the couch style with the seatback down for relaxing at home in front of the TV.
The right view
When driving in a rally, your co-driver reads the track for you, but in a road car you have to rely on yourself. That's why, as well as the right optimal seating position, a good view from the car is also very important. Don't just look at the front edge of the bonnet, but make sure to always check at least a few dozens of metres in front of the car. Correctly reading the road ahead is important for safety and smooth driving. If you know about a potential danger well in advance, you can react correctly and not endanger yourself or other road users.
Although tarmac is the surface with the most grip, you need to pay attention to the approach speed. Even when driving on tarmac, the grip can change quickly and you could be in for a nasty surprise in a corner. So, start slower and use the first turn of the steering wheel to brake before the corner. This is because even light braking will put more load on the front wheels, which will then have more grip for cornering. Depending on the radius and length of the corner, start to make a gentle, steady acceleration as soon as you round the bend. When the corner starts to straighten out, you can add more intensity, but always remember that you must never cross the centre line. The oncoming lane is simply a no-go zone. Accelerating through a corner, the car will lean nicely into the outer wheels and carve the corner much more smoothly than if you accelerate and brake insensitively.
Smoothness and the right distance
Smoothness is the key to moving safely on the road. The smoother you drive, the more time you have to deal with possible unexpected situations. Use the accelerator and brake pedal gently and progressively, brake and accelerate smoothly, and try to use the full width of your lane when possible. This will straighten out your curve and make the ride a little smoother again. At higher speeds, it really makes a big difference on tarmac. When driving behind the car in front of you, try to keep a gap of at least 2 seconds, double the gap if the surface is wet.
You'll also need more distance when overtaking. This will allow you to accelerate in your lane and minimise the time spent in the oncoming lane.