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Discussion Starter #1
As a new owner I have been doing quite a bit of reading and video watching. I have seen many videos of Elise's loosing rear traction and spinning at the track with virtually no apparent warning, and for what appears to be no apparent reason.

Reference this video, fast forward to the end and there is another spin out of an elise for no apparent reason?


Based on the number of videos like this I have seen, and the amount of similar spin outs, not to mention the good amount of salvage rebuilds of this car, what is the story?
 

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Short wheelbase, mid-engine and improper driving technique about sums it up. You where cresting a hill so tire contact got light on you while incorrectly apexing that turn. Light tire contact, sharp turn is not a good combo. Did you also lift off the accelerator? It sounded like you did which will also exacerbate that situation.
 

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Emphasis on poor driving technique.
Unlike many exotic (note I didn't say expensive) cars, these cars should not be driven
8/10ths by people who don't have real experience and ability to drive well. They are meant to have the ability to be driven F-a-s-t but not by average drivers on constantly changing road surfaces.
It's not rocket science, but neither is swinging a hammer without hitting your fingers. It just takes enough practice to do well. And it onlt takes one swing to get an owie.
 

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Tires not at operating temps are also a factor as I found out once. :)
 

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If you have to ask, assume yes.

Work up to the limits slowly and in a safe environment.

Autocrosses are a safe way to answer this question.
DE's are a safe way to answer this question.
Public street are an expensive and bad way to answer this question.
 

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What's being referred to goes by different names: drop throttle oversteer, lift throttle oversteer, others.

When accelerating through a turn, the inertia/load is on the rear wheels. Instinct for most people when the run into an issue, such as the radius of the turn tightening unexpectedly, is to lift off the throttle. This instantly lightens the rear end, weight shifting to the front wheels.

This happens with all cars, but in a rear/mid engine car you have that much more weight in the back, which with throttle lift has less weight on the rear tires, so you've basically got a pendulum that tries to spin around.

The rap with the Elise initially is that they understeered too soon. I noticed that when I first autocrossed (a great suggestion to get to know the car, by the way). Lotus dialed in the understeer deliberately knowing people would feel invincible driving a slot car, right up to the moment they weren't anymore.

That's likely the issue for many of the wrecks. Folks hitting an exit ramp like Mario Andretti, finding out the radius decreases, they lift, and bam into the guard rail.
 

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Reference this video, fast forward to the end and there is another spin out of an elise for no apparent reason?
Oh, there is plenty of reason there. Before even cresting the hill, the driver failed to plan for the hill. It's blind, you can't see what's beyond it, so leave a little on the table to give yourself room for adjustments you might have to make.

Then, the driver failed to unwind the steering input before cresting the hill.

Then, he lifted off the throttle or he fuel starved.

At this point, it was still saveable, but...

Then, he failed to countersteer quickly enough. Look how slow his hands are at correcting. His movements are WAY behind the rotation of the car.

what is the story?
The story is that these cars are mid-engined and thus have lower rotational inertia compared to heavier cars. It's easier to get these cars to rotate and just as easy to stop them from rotating. This is usually an advantage in the hands of a driver who knows how to utilize that characteristic.

One needs to practice slides and correction to learn what to do and how to do it. I recommend autocross and HPDE instruction to all new Lotus drivers.

Here's an example of fast hands trying to control a spin after the driver's foot came off the gas pedal--this is all steering, no throttle:

 

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Is the Elise Spin Prone?

Yes.

for no apparent reason?

No.

The Elise is a lightweight rear weight biased car. That arrangement is a recipe for snap oversteer.

That said, snap oversteer occurs when, bluntly, the car is mis-driven. The video you referenced shows the driver approaching a slight crest where he not only lifts but also dials in aggressive steering input which unweighted the rear-end and sent him flying. You may have heard the phrase "never lift"... well that's why!

Essentially what is happening is the tires are at the limit of their adhesion at a specific balance front to rear. When the driver lifts off the throttle he transfers the weight balance toward the front which slightly unweights the rear tires. The previously barely adequate grip is now inadequate and the rear-end breaks loose. If you have any rotational momentum at that time... SPIN BABY SPIN!
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Oh, there is plenty of reason there. Before even cresting the hill, the driver failed to plan for the hill. It's blind, you can't see what's beyond it, so leave a little on the table to give yourself room for adjustments you might have to make.

Then, the driver failed to unwind the steering input before cresting the hill.

Then, he lifted off the throttle or he fuel starved.

At this point, it was still saveable, but...

Then, he failed to countersteer quickly enough. Look how slow his hands are at correcting. His movements are WAY behind the rotation of the car.



The story is that these cars are mid-engined and thus have lower rotational inertia compared to heavier cars. It's easier to get these cars to rotate and just as easy to stop them from rotating. This is usually an advantage in the hands of a driver who knows how to utilize that characteristic.

One needs to practice slides and correction to learn what to do and how to do it. I recommend autocross and HPDE instruction to all new Lotus drivers.

Here's an example of fast hands trying to control a spin after the driver's foot came off the gas pedal--this is all steering, no throttle:

Spin avoidance in a Lotus Exige. - YouTube

Now that I look closer at the original video at NJ it is clear that the crest of the hill at speed un-weighted the car combined with potential throttle liftoff, although I see no reason why he would have lifted until after he began the spin?

Looking at the video of the Exige that you posted: sure that guy was a master of recovery beyond the average driver of what yet again looks to me to be a surprizing spin, and this second video seems like it is pretty low speed.

I have driven a Porsche Turbo, and several mid engine boxsters at the track but none have scared me like what I am seeing on these videos. I have yet to track the Elise so I have no first hand experience with it. I never had either of my boxsters just completely loose it with no warning like these.

I think you are right, it would be a good Idea for me to autocross with nothing to hit but cones before I go where cement walls are surrounding me!
 

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Throwing my video in this ring. Last weekend was the first time I ever autocrossed the new-to-me-supercharged-elise.

Disregard the fact the whole run is pretty terrible, but the point where I did nearly spin was due to my inputs being way too sharp through the slalom. Did manage to catch the spin and just puttered off the course.


At the end of the day I think I got 3rd overall, half a second off FTD. Not too shabby for not doing this in 4 years, and the first time in the Lotus. :)

*EDIT* Should also note that I have been doing rally racing for several years now in an older Subaru Legacy. Even though its AWD and a slow pig, the principles of staying on the throttle in a slide and countersteering still heavily apply in Rally. The Lotus felt extremely fast and forgiving to me, just have to react even quicker than in a rally car on gravel though. :)
 

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911's and boxers have a longer wheelbase.

Once you get used to the car, the ability to kick the back end out at will due to the design of the car helps greatly in rotating it through the corners

With that said, depending on tires, there is enormous feedback about how the car is feeling. One cannot get that sence from watching a video. You have to feel it.

I am currently having the opposite problem. I have to learn to trust the huge about of grip
 

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My wife usually spins her Elise on all 4 wheels, a prone spin would really mess up the clam!

I'm no expert on this but I'm learning. I think thats the key word. I do a lot of autocross and track days. I push my car but to the point were I know it's limits but I don't overstep them. When I get close I learn how to prevent it thru research and instruction. When I control it, I get faster. 12 track days are not going to get me into blue group. It's a slow but doable process.

Take it slow, have fun with your car and screw the Cayman that just went past. Your paying for the track time, not winning money!
 

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Run only newer sticky tires fit for the conditions. I bet half the wrecks could have been prevented by doing this alone. I try to set my speed so I can slightly accelerate through the entire corner on the street.
 

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As a new owner I have been doing quite a bit of reading and video watching. I have seen many videos of Elise's loosing rear traction and spinning at the track with virtually no apparent warning, and for what appears to be no apparent reason.

There is always a reason for the spin. Data logging and video of hands / feet help you identify the reason. Great learning exercise :)

I found autocrosses very helpful. At first I would push the car until I lost it. In the beginning I was not sure why. Then after I studied the videos in slow motion I started understanding more and more. Now it is a bit easier to feel when I am about to lose the car and apply corrective action sooner than I used to.

Besides camera / data logging, I found the theory in a couple of books useful. Also, it is fun to discuss videos with more experienced friends.
 

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To answer the question in the title of the thread - Yes

There are countless books on the subject and they usually give a chapter or two on explanation.
To do the actual math requires high school level physics.
But it requires more words that can be reasonably be expected to be but into a post.

I have not read this book,
Porsche High-performance Driving Handbook, Vic Elford - Shop Online for Books in Australia
but there should be something on Amazon on high performance driving... Maybe Bondurant.
 

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You missed the apex. I race a NJMP in a spec racer ford. On that corner, it a lift (some people break), be way outside ( but don't touch the grass/sand), then turn in hard. It's uphill so the cars slows. If you don't drive the car over to the inside curb, you're ****ed. The car is supper light over the hill. Too far outside and you'll be in the left side weeds and guardrail. You drove a little off the apex and turned to pull the car to the inside too late - that brings a spin to the inside and pain. Sorry.

The place where you spun is a favorite of mine for passing. The race cars get really light and wobbly there. Follow a wobble and get a good run down the hill and the pass is guaranteed.
 
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