Make sure you plan your day at the track so you are not rushing around. The driving needs to occupy the majority of your mental capacity before, during and after your sessions. When you arrive in the morning you’ll have a lot to do: unloading; signing on; scrutineering; getting yourself changed into your kit.
Don’t arrive last minute and rush around in a flap, give yourself plenty of time. Expect there to be queues at sign on and scrutineering and aim for at least an hour of down time before you head on track to get yourself in the right frame of mind.
We’ve looked at corner entry and corner exit so now lets look at the mid-corner.
Our goal with corner exit was to get on the gas at the point where you could accelerate hard out of the corner with no need to lift or feather the throttle. Our goal on entry was to get to that acceleration point as quickly as possible so what do you do mid corner?
In a short corner the mid-corner section is a simple transition from brake to throttle but you often need to use the last release of the brake to help rotate the car towards the exit. You need to aim for the highest minimum speed here which doesn’t compromise the exit.
In a longer corner you may need a period in between the release of the brake and the application of the gas. In this phase again you are looking for the highest minimum speed which doesn’t affect you corner exit, balancing the speed with the natural mid-corner balance of your car.
Last week we looked at the ideal technique of getting into the corner but when and how should you accelerate?
In a modern car with modern tyres and suspension the ideal acceleration point is where you can get either full throttle or build to full throttle quickly and smoothly.
In an older, classic, car, especially on historic tyres you would aim to finish the braking earlier and pick up the throttle earlier to balance the car mid corner on the throttle. You would gently feed in the throttle out to the exit.
As discussed yesterday, this is the art of getting to the slow point of the corner as quickly as possible.
Braking puts more weight over the front tyres giving them more grip. Initiate the braking as usual with a fast and hard application of the brake then as you turn into the corner balance increasing steering angle with decreasing brake pressure.
If your initial straight line braking is using all of the available tyre grip to slow down, if you then subsequently add a lateral grip request in the form of a steering input you need to reduce the longitudinal (braking) grip request by an equivalent amount. It is far more complex than that from an engineering point of view but from a drivers perspective you can simplify it by thinking that to add 10% steering you need to reduce the brake by 10%.
As you reach the slowest point of the corner you will naturally clear the brake as you are asking for maximum lateral load on the steering and tyres.
Yesterday we looked at how you look at a corner in reverse (exit to apex to turn in, not through the back window…) to see where you can get on the gas to drive hard out of the corner. To be quick you need to get to this point as quickly as possible, but how?
The key is in trail braking. How much you can trail brake depends on the engine position (rear engine cars can take alot of brake as you turn, front engine cars less so) set up, tyres and track conditions but you should aim to finish decelerating just before the point you get back on the power. In essence you are picking the slowest point of the corner, decelerating to that point and accelerating out the other side.
Yesterday we looked at the reasons behind the ‘Slow In-Fast Out’ cornering technique, but how slow is slow enough?
The key is to look at the corner in reverse. To exit fast there is a point on the corner where you can get on the gas hard and drive the car out fast without having to lift or check the throttle. As such your turn in speed is determined by how you can get to that point on the track as quickly as you can.
We often hear the phrase ‘Slow In-Fast Out’ but why do coaches like me bang on about it as the bedrock of performance driving?
By turning in slower you are able to turn tighter, this pushes your turn-in further towards the bend. As you can see from the picture accompanying this article this has the knock on effect of more of the rotation around the corner being completed by the time you reach the clipping point. This in turn means the route from the clipping point to the exit is straighter which allows you to get on the throttle earlier finally meaning you exit faster.
If you gain 5mph on the corner exit by turning in slower and later you will have the advantage of greater speed all down the next straight until you either brake for the following turn or reach near terminal velocity (its a bit more complex than that but that basic understanding will do for now).
So turning in slower and later means the next straight starts earlier which makes you faster overall.