How come some optical drives tend to handle scratched discs better at higher speeds? (gets stuck at lower speeds)

One of my observations on optical media when testing with a heavily scratched audio CD:

Multiple optical drives I have tested read damaged audio CDs fine at high speeds, but at lower speeds, they get stuck (making hiccup sounds once per second).

Shouldn’t reading be more reliable at lower speeds? So how come the drives get stuck at lower speeds, but just gracefully read through the damage at higher speeds?

What is the technical reason for this behaviour?

Related experiment

On an old GDR-8162B, I have turned the potentiometer down (reduced laser power), which actually improved readability on damaged CDs (although making CD-RW undetectable). This must be a related technical reason.

Possible explanation

  • A possible explanation is that disc damage could distract the tracking of the lens too much sideways at lower speeds, while at higher speeds, the lens is not able to dodge the track sideways fast enough to lose track of it.

(From my observations on optical disc drives)