March 5, 2021

Whether you’re driving on a race track, a mountain road or an interstate, you'll notice that none of these road surfaces are perfectly flat. All roads are sloped on each side to allow water to drain off of the road surface. This is called camber. Whether you are driving in a snow storm or on the limit on a rally stage, you need to be able to read and adapt to different road cambers and understand how it will affect your car's behavior.

The simple rule of thumb with road camber is the more on camber the road is, or the more the road slopes the direction you are turning, the more speed you can carry. As you turn in, the on camber slope of the road acts like a banking. This causes the suspension to compress and push the tires into the road surface giving you more grip. When the road slopes in the opposite direction of the way you are turning, you can’t carry nearly as much speed.

When the road is off camber, you have gravity working against you, pulling you off the road. To combat this, you need brake smoother and earlier to slow down your entry speed and keep the car composed. Sometimes you need to compromise your line in order to negotiate the camber of the road. If the road has an aggressive camber, you might not want to be hard on the brakes turning in out wide in the off camber part of the road.

In almost all situations, you don't want to early apex corners. However, if the road is off camber and you need to get up the inside early to use a little bit of the on camber part of the corner, then absolutely use that camber to your advantage. Another area where road camber can work against you is when the camber changes. The transition in camber upsetting the car is the cause for more crashes then you would think.

This is because the car goes from having a lot of grip, to a limited amount of grip as it goes light over the crown of the road. If you aren't ready to catch that oversteer generated by the loss of grip, you will probably spin out and or crash. When you are driving at the limit, you need to treat going over that crown of the road almost like a crest or a jump. If you want to get some experience negotiating road camber, check out our Rally School!