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Discussion Starter #1
Hi

I'm pleased to say that I've now done 5 track days in 3 months :) After spinning on the first one and getting a bit of a scare, I've taken it pretty easy, got my lines much better and am going much faster. (I know this not only because I can feel it, but also because guys that were passing me have come up to me and asked if I have done something to the car - because I'm way faster than them now:D )

A question I have is whether, when going into a slowish 2nd gear corner from a fast straight in 4th, is it better to gear down 4-3-2? or just to brake hard and go straight from 4-2 once the speed is right (ideally just before the turn into the corner.

FWIW, i had a drive with a more experienced driver. The 2 areas he really helped me with:
1) I was turning in too late and not carrying enough speed. Think this was as a result of my early apex induced spin on the first day.
2) He advised that I break earlier, get the right speed before turning in and then turn in once the car was nicely balanced. Now this contradicts what I read in Going Faster (trail breaking), but I can really feel how much better the car bites when balanced. I can appreciate how trail braking is probably ultimately faster, but for my level of driving, I can carry more speed into the corner if the car is not unsettled from coming of the breaks in the corner. your opinions on this would be appreciated

Oh yes...one last thing. I did the most recent track day at kyalami (south africa's premier track - was an F1 track years ago). Much faster and more tricky track - had to go back to square 1 and felt like a complete hacker....humbling experience...especially with GT2's and F360 cup cars wizzing past:eek:
 

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Generally, I'd say go directly from 4th to 2nd. I've tried both 4th to 2nd and 4th to 3rd to 2nd and the data says that 4th to 2nd is faster. Basically, look at it this way: Unless you are gassing the car when you are in 3rd, why are you shifting into 3rd?

Theoretically you could say that you were using a tiny bit of engine braking, but basically just jumping into 3rd only so you can then jump down to 2nd doesn't seem to be very efficient. The only advantage that I can see is that you are a tiny bit less likely to zing your engine. Just make sure you are going slow enough when you go into 2nd and you will be fine.

Also trail breaking is generally faster too. Once you've got enough experience straight line braking and controlling the car in a drift, just gradually carry more speed into a corner. Taking it in stages like you are is not a bad strategy at all.

New tracks are always cool. I'm about to jump on a track I haven't been on in almost a year, so I'm hoping that I'll have a little bit of that new track feel. It will be my first time on this track configuration in Red and with RA1s. I'm hoping I'm quite a bit faster that I was before.
 

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You are dead on about the braking technique as I experience the same thing when karting. Experienced karters tell me to brake hard into the turn or something, but I brake early and carry the right speed into the turn. I find my times increase this way.


Maybe this isn't the "right" way to do it, but it's what works for me as a relative novice. My times are very competitive though for weighing 270 lbs :) :D
 

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You are dead on about the braking technique as I experience the same thing when karting. Experienced karters tell me to brake hard into the turn or something, but I brake early and carry the right speed into the turn. I find my times increase this way.


Maybe this isn't the "right" way to do it, but it's what works for me as a relative novice. My times are very competitive though for weighing 270 lbs :) :D
competitive...-poke- aren't you 4 sec behind most of us? at gpny....-poke-
 

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For learning purposes, given that 99% of street cars can't brake quick enough to justify downshifting from 4th to 2nd, you should practice your heel-toe from 4-3-2. Once you're very comfortable with it, you can downshift to whichever gear is appropriate for that corner w/o going through the sequence, b/c it is faster, but depending on what car you drive, you may have to keep your foot on the brake while downshifting 4-2 anyway. Don't rush through the downshifts to get all the gears, you should have plenty of time while braking, and try to pace yourself to no more than 90% when practicing.
 

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Whether you trail brake into a turn or finish braking before entering has more to do with the geometry of the corner, IMHO... trail braking is great for slow, tight radius turns, where the rotation induced by trail braking helps turn the car faster. On high speed turns, trail braking can unsettle the car... and you usually want to be very smooth to optimize speed through fast sweepers.
 

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I haven't yet infulenced my opinion by reading the posts above, so forgive me if this is a repeat.

IMO, you should without fail do the 4-3-2 downshift. I do think it is ok to not release the clutch until 2nd gear though. If you are on the brakes the whole way down, by putting the gear shift into each slot, you reduce the chances of you haveing a "magic shift". it also helps keep the car balanced as you are not worried about the engine breaking effect.

On braking, I am not clear on your technique here but, I have found it helpful (learned in my racing school a little while back) to brake in a way to add stability to the car as you enter turn in. Specifically, imagine braking force is rated on a scale of 0 to 10, 10 being ABS activated. Your breaking should go like this: IMO,

6 Breaking point in 4th
10
9
8
7 Shift to 3rd
6
5
4 shift to 2nd
3
2 turn in
1
0
Maintenance throttle through the mid turn to just before apex


I would also advise you to get a data logger so you can go back and look at the plots of your breaking force, to see if you are matching up or not.

At this point, you being to apply throttle in a very linear but firm way (0 is maintenance 10 is full throttle

0
2
4
6
8 Apex
10
10
10 Exit point
 

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I'm less than a second behind you and you weigh 100 lbs less. :p We shall see tomorrow ;)
lol... its on..

for the record, last time, 32.2 for me ...33.1 for you

ive always down shifted through the each gear till i got were i wanted to be..:shrug:
 

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Discussion Starter #11
thanks for responses

I'll try both 4-3-2 and 4-2 on that corner next time out. I hear what some of you are saying about the risk of grabbing second too early and zinging the engine, but i think this risk is probably reduced on a track that you know quite well. On a new track, like last weekend, i went through all the gears - partly because i didn't know which gear would be needed!

Something else interesting that i noticed - there's one corner that i can take either in second or third (downhill left hander). very high revs for second 6500 going in - on the limit coming out. i have found just leaving it in third and focusing on the line and carrying a bit more speed is faster than the very late shift into second and resulting unsettling of the car (even with a very healthy blip)? but again this coul just be a skill issue.

:) bug has bitten hard....
 

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thanks for responses

I'll try both 4-3-2 and 4-2 on that corner next time out. I hear what some of you are saying about the risk of grabbing second too early and zinging the engine, but i think this risk is probably reduced on a track that you know quite well. On a new track, like last weekend, i went through all the gears - partly because i didn't know which gear would be needed!

Something else interesting that i noticed - there's one corner that i can take either in second or third (downhill left hander). very high revs for second 6500 going in - on the limit coming out. i have found just leaving it in third and focusing on the line and carrying a bit more speed is faster than the very late shift into second and resulting unsettling of the car (even with a very healthy blip)? but again this coul just be a skill issue.

:) bug has bitten hard....
Hey Mojo... First off, to respond to your very last question: Yes, leave it in third. It sounds like a classic case of, "I really don't need 6500rpm of torque for my exit out of this corner, and if I leave it in 3rd I'll avoid all the 'busyness' of downshifting, as well as the potential time penalty of downshifting, as well as the likelyhood of botching the shift and really losing time."

As for skip-shifting from 4th to 2nd. A professional coach wrote in my High-Performance Driving magazine, "Driving on track at any level is all about timing. Skipping gears can lead to over-revs, late downshifts, improper blips and unhappy cars." His larger point is that if you're going to learn downshifting -- proper heel-toe downshifting -- you need the repetitive practice to develop the rhythm that makes seemless, sublime heel-toe possible. You might "get away" with skip-shifting nine times out of 10, but it won't make you a better downshifting practitioner, and it certainly has the potential to cause problems.

So that's one school of thought. FWIW, I know other coaches who aren't so emphatic on the point.

As for me, I will give you two real-world examples:
* Turn 2 ("Andretti Hairpin"), Laguna Seca: This is the heaviest braking zone on the track. You have to go from 4th to 2nd. I always blip/shift 3rd gear for this corner. Why? Because when I've skip-shifted, I've chirped tires in the shift to 2nd a number of times. Bad, bad, bad! You're bleeding off a LOT of speed in this braking zone, and I find I just can't get the rev-match for 2nd gear unless I first go through 3rd gear. Also, this is a relatively "long" braking zone in the big scheme of things. I.e., one has time to go through 3rd gear. As with many elements of track driving, eschewing franticness for calm, collected gentleness -- i.e., "going slow" -- actually leads to speed dividends.

* Turn 2, Sears Point aka Infineon Raceway: This is a very tricky corner, and I actually skip-shift from 4th to 2nd here. I've found it's the only way to get things done, and it has never resulted in an upset car, probably because the topography of the track helps a lot. You are charging up a steep hill, with a lot of suspension compression. You have to wait a long time before you get to any semblance of a "straight-line braking zone" because your full-throttle path up the hill is actually a significant arc. Anyhow, the braking-zone looks to be about all of 15 feet long, and at the end of it you have to immediately turn into a blind, off-camber, right-hand, 2nd gear turn. Because I have found there is essentially no time to blip through 3rd, I skip-shift from 4th to 2nd. And it always works -- precisely because the climb up the hill helps bleed off so much speed (especially when its combined with braking). In a nutshell, the geometry/topography of this situation almost seems to conspire to make a skip-shift quite elegant.

But this is the only corner I've driven where skip-shifting makes sense.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Hey Jon

thanks for the comprehensive reply and excellent advice:bow:

Coincidentally, the corner on which I'm tempted to skip from 4th to 2nd is also a steep uphill, then into a tightish, inreasing readius turn. I find I can brake from the +- 140 km/h to an acceptable turn in speed in 2nd very quickly. Going through 3rd has me rushing or braking earlier to get the shifts in. This sometimes results in me still being mid brake and shift after I've turned in - like I've said previously, I can't to carry much speed in this unsettled state.

Actually, this brings up another question - its bad to be shifting in the corner right - again it feels like pushing the clutch in unbalances the car?

All this said, I think I will try and follow the advice of going through all gears - i certainly need the practice:shift:
 

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Hey Jon

thanks for the comprehensive reply and excellent advice:bow:

Coincidentally, the corner on which I'm tempted to skip from 4th to 2nd is also a steep uphill, then into a tightish, inreasing readius turn. I find I can brake from the +- 140 km/h to an acceptable turn in speed in 2nd very quickly. Going through 3rd has me rushing or braking earlier to get the shifts in. This sometimes results in me still being mid brake and shift after I've turned in - like I've said previously, I can't to carry much speed in this unsettled state.

Actually, this brings up another question - its bad to be shifting in the corner right - again it feels like pushing the clutch in unbalances the car?

All this said, I think I will try and follow the advice of going through all gears - i certainly need the practice:shift:
Hey there... Well, it certainly sounds like your corner in question may be forgiving of skip-shifting. (Can you let us know which track you're driving, and the corner in question?). As for shifting in a turn, I avoid it if I can, and this applies to upshifting too. I want the car to be going in a relatively straight line when I shift, so that there are no lateral loads torquing the drive train. (It's simply harder to slip seamlessly into gear when your tranny and engine are under those kind of loads -- plus, our bodies are "off-center" too, and I have found that this plays tricks on my ability to get the shifter perfectly in the right gate.) Now, as far as declutching in the middle of a turn unsettling the car: Well, you're right. But, with respect to downshifting, if you're also braking while declutching (i.e., heel-toe downshifting), then the car will remain settled. :)

As the maxim goes: You either want to be braking or accelerating.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
zwartkops.JPG

I live in South Africa, the track is called zwartkops, near pretoria - a shortish, quite tight course - great for the elise and learning.:D

the turn I'm talking about is T5, at the end of an uphill. T2 is also a 2nd gear turn. T8 is the one that can be 2nd or 3rd- downhill into finish straight...3rd is better as has been suggested.
 

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OK, I just watched some videos of your track. I wouldn't skip shift. And, actually, this is a perfect corner to practice two perfectly timed heel-toe shifts.
 

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Put me in the category of just doing the 4-2 shift. All you can do by using 3rd is give yourself an issue. You aren't practicing hell-and-toe unless you let the clutch out (how would you know if you were doing it?), and all you can do is give yourself the chance to pull back into 4th instead of 2nd. Practice heel-and-toe on every downshift on and off the track. It'll just be second nature.

Focus on getting your braking done right. Get the car slowed up nice and early, and into 2nd, and flat on the throttle by the time you get to the apex. Remember, he who gets back to full power earliest wins. :)

Steve
 

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Discussion Starter #18
thanks for the feedback.. I'll let you know how the next day goes.

Jon, I presume you saw those videos on youtube - i'll go and have a look as it might be interesting to see from inside the vehicle how others handle that track.

cheers:)
 

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Mojomotor, it sounds like you have the track time to try a few different things, like your line and gear selection. Play alittle. Some people will"jump gears" other don't there are times that call for it another times that don't. Try timing the corners and see if you are going fasterand work from there.
 
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