Wrexham racer's tips for driving in snow and ice

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Staff reporter

FORMER racing driver James Baker has spent many years learning the best ways to control vehicles.

The father-of-three from Wrexham is now sharing his expertise by offering tips on winter driving.

And perhaps surprisingly, James, 33, says that racing is very much like driving in snowy and icy conditions.

He said: “You have to be smooth and gentle on the controls and you need to constantly be looking at what is coming up ahead of you.

“Obviously driving a racing car is a lot quicker but it’s the same principle of looking ahead to see what is coming up.

“Your eyes should be everywhere over the road.”

James first became interested in go-karting when he was four and carried on with the hobby until he was 12.

But he took a change of direction when he was 13 and began flying with the air cadets.

He took an RAF flying scholarship at the age of 16 but sadly didn’t get to serve with the RAF because of health problems.

Instead, James returned to racing and got his racing licence when he was 21.

He managed to get some sponsorship and raced a Formula Jedi in the Formula Honda Championship in 2002.

James eventually left racing as a profession because it became expensive but he still enjoys it as a hobby.

Due to the current cold snap James said he wanted to share some advice with people driving in the area.

He believes the key to driving in bad weather is knowing what your car can do to help you.

Many cars have an ABS (anti-lock braking) system which recognises when the wheels have stopped and switches the brake on and off to keep the wheels going.

Some also have traction control which acts as a secondary system to ABS to stop sliding.

But if you don’t have these fitted there are still ways to control the vehicle in snow and ice.

James said: “If you’re going uphill you have to try to keep the wheels turning at the same speed of the car.

“It’s all about driving carefully and operating the controls slowly and smoothly.

“If your wheels are spinning in the snow wait until they have stopped spinning and try the accelerator again.

“But don’t be aggressive with the accelerator.”

If you are stuck going uphill, meanwhile, James says the best bet is to reverse safely and try to drive back up with more momentum.

It’s also best to stick to a slightly higher gear for going uphill and a lower gear when going downhill.

Another tip is to fit winter tyres, made of a different type of rubber which has more grip in the snow and ice.

The tread is also slightly wider to allow more snow in.

James said: “Try to anticipate the conditions as best you can and be aware that traffic around you may not have the same capabilities.

“You have to drive as if you have a hot cup of coffee in your lap – drive smoothly, carefully and progressively and never panic and over-react.”

See full story in the Leader

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