While controlling understeer is actually pretty easy, oversteer has far more violent results if you don't "catch" it, and so is that much harder to master.
While controlling understeer is actually pretty easy, oversteer has far more violent results if you don't "catch" it, and so is that much harder to master.

Are you experienced?



The terms "understeer" and "oversteer" are often bandied about by motoring journalists who assume that everyone knows what they mean, and would know what to do if your car just happened to experience either of them while you're behind the wheel. In all honesty, there are a lot of journos who wouldn't know what to do if their car suddenly swung out of control and headed for a spin. I thought I did. But when I went on the Dubai Autodrome Skid Car Experience, I realised I didn't know the half of it.

And I wasn't alone. Damanjit Oberoi and Manuel Bermudez had also signed up for the one-and-a- half-hour session. "All of us think we know how to drive", says Damanjit, "but now I have two young children and a high performance CLK500, there are situations where you could put in the power and get yourself into trouble, so I want to learn to do the right thing." First, the all important briefing with our Belgian ex-rallier, motocrosser and circuit racing instructor, Jan Vanmeerbeek, in which he explains the principles of understeer and oversteer as well as the likely outcome if you fail to control them - generally involving guard rails, ditches and hefty insurance premiums. "Most of the time, it's the driver who is at fault. If you brake too hard, accelerate too hard or steer too hard, these are all cases where you can lose control of the vehicle."

Jan explains first that understeer is when you turn the steering but the car struggles to hold the line that you want around the corner. "What you feel with understeer is the steering gets very light and you won't follow the course," says Vanmeerbeek. Most of the time it's because you've misjudged how tight the corner is and the front tyres simply can't give you enough grip in relation to the speed of the car. So, lesson one: if you don't know how tight a corner is, slow down. But there are other potential causes of understeer: over- or under-inflated tyres, a puncture, gravel, water, oil or debris on the road surface - all of these are common on the motorways of the UAE and, if they occur half way around a corner, you won't see them coming.

Fortunately, coping with understeer is relatively easy, but as we would find out it requires your attention to immediately recognise when it's happening and to react in time to keep you on the tarmac. "The main thing you can do," advises Vanmeerbeek, "is to get off the power and try to steer a little bit in the direction of the skid so you get the grip back into the wheels and then bring the car back on line." I had a feeling that this might be easier said than done. And then there's oversteer - losing grip at the back of the car so that it begins to head into a spin - a common cause of accidents at speed, especially when the driver overreacts and sends the car violently snaking down the motorway, stopping only when it hits something very solid. However, the thought of being taught how to deliberately lose the tail end of a 3.6L V6-powered car and eventually be able to hold it in a drift brought a smile to my face. But the serious point to this training is, of course, that there are a lot of powerful rear-wheel-drive cars on the region's roads, and few people who would actually know how to control them in emergency situations.

Simply put, Vanmeerbeek says, "If you put too much power on in a rear-wheel-drive car, you'll start to spin the back wheels and they'll get light and swing out." He continues, rather matter-of-factly, that "the action with oversteer is very simple - you counter-steer and get off the throttle. You must try to react immediately." But until you actually get behind the wheel and induce the back end to break loose, you have no idea just how quickly that reaction has to be. We're taken to the skid car that we are about to start throwing around on the dusty run-off area of one of the circuits sweeping corners. It's a new Chevrolet Lumina S mounted on a metal cradle. At each corner of the car is a free-rolling wheel that looks like it's come from a giant shopping trolley, which are linked to a hydraulic pump capable of lifting each corner off the ground. "In the car, there is a device which I control to make you lose grip on the front or the rear tyres," says Vanmeerbeek. This enables him to simulate any road condition at the push of a button, from gravel and snow to ice and aquaplaning. Controlling understeer is actually pretty easy; it's just a matter of awareness, feeling when it's starting to happen and coming off the power.

Oversteer, however, has far more violent results if you don't "catch" it, and so is that much harder to master. Hence Vanmeerbeek's advisory: "It's a thin line between control and spinning the car - and you will spin. If you feel sick, let me know. That way we can get you out of the car." Looping a 20m diameter circle of cones, it's not long before we are pirouetting like a ballerina to the accompaniment of howling rubber and dust clouds. "The more the car breaks away at the rear the more you have to steer into the direction you want to go," explains Vanmeerbeek patiently. "But if you put too much counter-steer, all of a sudden you will lose control completely." It's a delicate balance between reacting quickly and counter-steering enough in the direction of the loose rear end to stop the car from becoming a fairground ride, but not compensating so much that the car swings back more violently in the opposite direction. But 20 minutes into the session and it's all coming together. With Vanmeerbeek confident that we know what we're doing, the next challenge is to drift the Lumina for as long as possible. As a guide, Vanmeerbeek explains: "When you feel the car break away, counter-steer in the direction that the back end is heading and lift off the throttle. When you feel the car starting to come back into shape, give a little bit more throttle. Your co-ordination between steering and throttle is very precise."

Amazingly, after 10 minutes of further pirouettes, I succeed in holding a drift in both directions for a good half circumference by just using slight adjustments to the steering and feathering the throttle. As a big fan of the drift scene, this is a real rush. At Dh595 a session, the Skid Car Experience might hit your pocket, but it is incredible fun and might also save your life. And if you think it all sounds too difficult, Vanmeerbeek concludes: "You should never be afraid that you can't control the vehicle, because you can. It's just a skill."

To book the Skid Car Experience at the Dubai Autodrome call: 04-367 8745 or visit the Dubai Autodrome website at www.dubaiautodrome.com and click on the Track Experiences link for more details.

The full list of 2020 Brit Award nominees (winners in bold):

British group

Coldplay

Foals

Bring me the Horizon

D-Block Europe

Bastille

British Female

Mabel

Freya Ridings

FKA Twigs

Charli xcx

Mahalia​

British male

Harry Styles

Lewis Capaldi

Dave

Michael Kiwanuka

Stormzy​

Best new artist

Aitch

Lewis Capaldi

Dave

Mabel

Sam Fender

Best song

Ed Sheeran and Justin Bieber - I Don’t Care

Mabel - Don’t Call Me Up

Calvin Harrison and Rag’n’Bone Man - Giant

Dave - Location

Mark Ronson feat. Miley Cyrus - Nothing Breaks Like A Heart

AJ Tracey - Ladbroke Grove

Lewis Capaldi - Someone you Loved

Tom Walker - Just You and I

Sam Smith and Normani - Dancing with a Stranger

Stormzy - Vossi Bop

International female

Ariana Grande

Billie Eilish

Camila Cabello

Lana Del Rey

Lizzo

International male

Bruce Springsteen

Burna Boy

Tyler, The Creator

Dermot Kennedy

Post Malone

Best album

Stormzy - Heavy is the Head

Michael Kiwanuka - Kiwanuka

Lewis Capaldi - Divinely Uninspired to a Hellish Extent

Dave - Psychodrama

Harry Styles - Fine Line

Rising star

Celeste

Joy Crookes

beabadoobee

Know before you go
  • Jebel Akhdar is a two-hour drive from Muscat airport or a six-hour drive from Dubai. It’s impossible to visit by car unless you have a 4x4. Phone ahead to the hotel to arrange a transfer.
  • If you’re driving, make sure your insurance covers Oman.
  • By air: Budget airlines Air Arabia, Flydubai and SalamAir offer direct routes to Muscat from the UAE.
  • Tourists from the Emirates (UAE nationals not included) must apply for an Omani visa online before arrival at evisa.rop.gov.om. The process typically takes several days.
  • Flash floods are probable due to the terrain and a lack of drainage. Always check the weather before venturing into any canyons or other remote areas and identify a plan of escape that includes high ground, shelter and parking where your car won’t be overtaken by sudden downpours.

 

Brief scores:

Toss: South Africa, chose to field

Pakistan: 177 & 294

South Africa: 431 & 43-1

Man of the Match: Faf du Plessis (South Africa)

Series: South Africa lead three-match series 2-0

The specs

Engine: 2.0-litre 4-cyl

Power: 153hp at 6,000rpm

Torque: 200Nm at 4,000rpm

Transmission: 6-speed auto

Price: Dh99,000

On sale: now

Results

5.30pm: Maiden (TB) Dh82,500 (Dirt) 1,600m, Winner: Panadol, Mickael Barzalona (jockey), Salem bin Ghadayer (trainer)

6.05pm: Maiden (TB) Dh82,500 (Turf) 1,400m, Winner: Mayehaab, Adrie de Vries, Fawzi Nass

6.40pm: Handicap (TB) Dh85,000 (D) 1,600m, Winner: Monoski, Mickael Barzalona, Salem bin Ghadayer

7.15pm: Handicap (TB) Dh102,500 (T) 1,800m, Winner: Eastern World, Royston Ffrench, Charlie Appleby

7.50pm: Handicap (TB) Dh92,500 (D) 1,200m, Winner: Madkal, Adrie de Vries, Fawzi Nass

8.25pm: Handicap (TB) Dh92,500 (T) 1,200m, Winner: Taneen, Dane O’Neill, Musabah Al Muhairi

Illegal shipments intercepted in Gulf region

The Royal Navy raid is the latest in a series of successful interceptions of drugs and arms in the Gulf

May 11: US coastguard recovers $80 million heroin haul from fishing vessel in Gulf of Oman

May 8: US coastguard vessel USCGC Glen Harris seizes heroin and meth worth more than $30 million from a fishing boat

March 2: Anti-tank guided missiles and missile components seized by HMS Lancaster from a small boat travelling from Iran

October 9, 2022: Royal Navy frigate HMS Montrose recovers drugs worth $17.8 million from a dhow in Arabian Sea

September 27, 2022: US Naval Forces Central Command reports a find of 2.4 tonnes of heroin on board fishing boat in Gulf of Oman 

MATCH INFO

Syria v Australia
2018 World Cup qualifying: Asia fourth round play-off first leg
Venue: Hang Jebat Stadium (Malacca, Malayisa)
Kick-off: Thursday, 4.30pm (UAE)
Watch: beIN Sports HD

* Second leg in Australia scheduled for October 10

The specs

Engine: 3.5-litre twin-turbo V6
Power: 456hp at 5,000rpm
Torque: 691Nm at 3,500rpm
Transmission: 10-speed auto
Fuel consumption: 14.6L/100km
Price: from Dh349,545
On sale: now

The BIO:

He became the first Emirati to climb Mount Everest in 2011, from the south section in Nepal

He ascended Mount Everest the next year from the more treacherous north Tibetan side

By 2015, he had completed the Explorers Grand Slam

Last year, he conquered K2, the world’s second-highest mountain located on the Pakistan-Chinese border

He carries dried camel meat, dried dates and a wheat mixture for the final summit push

His new goal is to climb 14 peaks that are more than 8,000 metres above sea level

Dengue fever symptoms
  • High fever
  • Intense pain behind your eyes
  • Severe headache
  • Muscle and joint pains
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Swollen glands
  • Rash

If symptoms occur, they usually last for two-seven days

COMPANY PROFILE

Company: Eco Way
Started: December 2023
Founder: Ivan Kroshnyi
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: Electric vehicles
Investors: Bootstrapped with undisclosed funding. Looking to raise funds from outside

WHAT IS A BLACK HOLE?

1. Black holes are objects whose gravity is so strong not even light can escape their pull

2. They can be created when massive stars collapse under their own weight

3. Large black holes can also be formed when smaller ones collide and merge

4. The biggest black holes lurk at the centre of many galaxies, including our own

5. Astronomers believe that when the universe was very young, black holes affected how galaxies formed

Company Profile

Name: Direct Debit System
Started: Sept 2017
Based: UAE with a subsidiary in the UK
Industry: FinTech
Funding: Undisclosed
Investors: Elaine Jones
Number of employees: 8

Coming soon

Torno Subito by Massimo Bottura

When the W Dubai – The Palm hotel opens at the end of this year, one of the highlights will be Massimo Bottura’s new restaurant, Torno Subito, which promises “to take guests on a journey back to 1960s Italy”. It is the three Michelinstarred chef’s first venture in Dubai and should be every bit as ambitious as you would expect from the man whose restaurant in Italy, Osteria Francescana, was crowned number one in this year’s list of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants.

Akira Back Dubai

Another exciting opening at the W Dubai – The Palm hotel is South Korean chef Akira Back’s new restaurant, which will continue to showcase some of the finest Asian food in the world. Back, whose Seoul restaurant, Dosa, won a Michelin star last year, describes his menu as,  “an innovative Japanese cuisine prepared with a Korean accent”.

Dinner by Heston Blumenthal

The highly experimental chef, whose dishes are as much about spectacle as taste, opens his first restaurant in Dubai next year. Housed at The Royal Atlantis Resort & Residences, Dinner by Heston Blumenthal will feature contemporary twists on recipes that date back to the 1300s, including goats’ milk cheesecake. Always remember with a Blumenthal dish: nothing is quite as it seems. 

The years Ramadan fell in May

1987

1954

1921

1888

'Ashkal'

Director: Youssef Chebbi

Stars: Fatma Oussaifi and Mohamed Houcine Grayaa

Rating: 4/5

KEY DATES IN AMAZON'S HISTORY

July 5, 1994: Jeff Bezos founds Cadabra Inc, which would later be renamed to Amazon.com, because his lawyer misheard the name as 'cadaver'. In its earliest days, the bookstore operated out of a rented garage in Bellevue, Washington

July 16, 1995: Amazon formally opens as an online bookseller. Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies: Computer Models of the Fundamental Mechanisms of Thought becomes the first item sold on Amazon

1997: Amazon goes public at $18 a share, which has grown about 1,000 per cent at present. Its highest closing price was $197.85 on June 27, 2024

1998: Amazon acquires IMDb, its first major acquisition. It also starts selling CDs and DVDs

2000: Amazon Marketplace opens, allowing people to sell items on the website

2002: Amazon forms what would become Amazon Web Services, opening the Amazon.com platform to all developers. The cloud unit would follow in 2006

2003: Amazon turns in an annual profit of $75 million, the first time it ended a year in the black

2005: Amazon Prime is introduced, its first-ever subscription service that offered US customers free two-day shipping for $79 a year

2006: Amazon Unbox is unveiled, the company's video service that would later morph into Amazon Instant Video and, ultimately, Amazon Video

2007: Amazon's first hardware product, the Kindle e-reader, is introduced; the Fire TV and Fire Phone would come in 2014. Grocery service Amazon Fresh is also started

2009: Amazon introduces Amazon Basics, its in-house label for a variety of products

2010: The foundations for Amazon Studios were laid. Its first original streaming content debuted in 2013

2011: The Amazon Appstore for Google's Android is launched. It is still unavailable on Apple's iOS

2014: The Amazon Echo is launched, a speaker that acts as a personal digital assistant powered by Alexa

2017: Amazon acquires Whole Foods for $13.7 billion, its biggest acquisition

2018: Amazon's market cap briefly crosses the $1 trillion mark, making it, at the time, only the third company to achieve that milestone


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