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I searched the forums, but didn't find anything applicable. Perhaps my search was too broad or too narrow though.

I just got my 05 elise a few days ago, and I've been having a blast driving it through the country. Having read up a lot on mid-engine driving techniques, I make a constant effort to keep the throttle consistent while taking tighter turns. That being said, I have a few questions.

While I'm learning the feel of the car, would it be more beneficial for me to stay in a higher gear but keep the rpms around 4-5k while taking tighter turns? Or would it be safer to keep it in the 6-8k range in a lower gear?

Correct me if I'm wrong, but my thought on this is that the lower RPMs will allow my throttle control to be more gradual, and a minor drop in throttle pressure due to driver error will be less drastic, thus safer.

The other side of my thought process is that by cornering at the higher RPMs, if I do have to put on additional throttle, or recover from something unexpected, I'll have more power to make corrections, thus making things more stable if something does go wrong.

I've also come to understand that the most beneficial tool would be to do some autocross to help me learn the car's limits, and will be doing some at the first opportunity I get. But any thoughts in the meantime are appreciated.
 

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I've also come to understand that the most beneficial tool would be to do some autocross to help me learn the car's limits, and will be doing some at the first opportunity I get. But any thoughts in the meantime are appreciated.
Autocross a few times and you'll be able to answer all of those questions. It all depends on the type of corner and what follows the corner; sometimes you may not want to be in a lower gear because you'll run out of revs before you can grab the next gear (bouncing off the limiter during the exit is not ideal ;-).

When you first start to autocross, you'll shift into 2nd and leave it there. However, once you get quicker, you'll learn when and where to downshift. Depending on the lot you're running, sometimes 1st gear can handle the whole course (if you're a smooth driver).

Obviously you shouldn't practice any aggressive driving on the street (blah blah blah). A quick look around this forum can show what can become of your car if you drive like a jackass on public roads.
 

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The more important question is ideal speed when cornering.

That determines the ideal rpm.
 

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...a stock elise offers a flatter and wider torque curve from 3500-6000 RPM than from 6500-8000 RPM, so even though you lose around 12.5 foot-pounds staying down on the first cam, it offers smoother throttle control down low...quite suprisingly, when my stuck thermostat has kept me below 6000 RPM during very cold mornings, i've consistently turned much faster canyon runs despite the lack of top-end acceleration due to carrying more speed through the corners...

...the main thing to look out for is that jarring torque dip right before the second cam switchover, 6000-6500 RPM, which i've found can really upset a stock elise near the limit...a gotham or lotus sport ECU tune completely alleviates this problem, and i think it's silly that VVTL marketing is the only reason our cars didn't come that way stock...

...either way, lotus sport or gotham, you'll double your usable powerband and make a profound difference in controllability through corners...
 

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The lower the gear, the smother you will have to be with the throttle.

The higher the gear, the more room there is to 'make a mistake'.

This is easy to see and you don't even have to be in a corner to find out how it's going to work: Get on the highway put the car in 6th and floor it. Notice how much movement you get from the car (basically you are looking for front to back movement of the car on it's chassis more so than the increase of speed relative to the road). Now do the same thing in 3rd (or 4th depending on how fast that highway is).

Now imagine what is going to happen if you are doing the same thing in a corner. In a corner you are basically attempting a balancing act. As you can imagine drastic front to back (or side to side) movement is going to make that balancing act harder. Smoothness is going to make it easier to maintain your balance.

While I'm learning the feel of the car, would it be more beneficial for me to stay in a higher gear but keep the rpms around 4-5k while taking tighter turns? Or would it be safer to keep it in the 6-8k range in a lower gear?
I'd stick to a higher gear while learning. Once you have a bit of experience you can take corners at 8K consistently (on a track of course).
 

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You never want to be off the high cam on the track.
The engine never wants to be off the high cam on the track.
The driver never wants to be ON the high cam at the track.

rotfl Sorry, can't resist being silly.

(Of course there is an exception if your name is Danica. :rolleyes: )

To add something almost useful, I think you might be over-thinking this. I suggest either a car control clinic or if a driving school at a race track (or preferable both!)--if it's your first, you will learn more about car control than you ever thought existed. I think it's much better than an autocross simply because there should be formal instruction rather than learning by the seat-of-your-pants or worse yet, by people without formal instructional training (just because you can drive fast doesn't mean you can instruct others to do the same safely, IMHO.) The BMW Car Club of America driving schools are excellent and will run you about $100 for the CCC (where available) or $750-$1000 for the weekend (tuition, hotel, safety inspection, tire & brakes, food). Of course the addiction may end up costing you another million. :D

Here are some links
Car Control Clinics
High Performance Driving Schools
BMW CCA

Good luck!
 

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spinning a Seven...

I also suggest your experience level may have something to do with your decision. It was hinted at above.

When you are higher in the rev range, your throttle control becomes more important. You have more power available with a smaller throttle input and worse, more engine compression available with trailing throttle. The latter becomes important for less experience people.

As you release the throttle, trailing throttle, you allow engine compression to slow the rear wheels, Assuming you are balanced on the edge, asking the rear tire contact patch to not only corner but now slow down, this is a cause for snap understeer, and a spin. Your are carefully modulating the throttle as you corner, and if you suddenly release the throttle, the car will want to slow. The higher the revs, the more it will want to slow. A sudden throttle lift, will cause the rear to want to come around and lead.

Michael

PS, my funny story. I was autocrossing my Seven after carefully tightening some suspension bits. It was the end of the season and I was going to rebuild the engine, so I was tempting fate with a higher rev limit. I was driving down a straight that would normally deserve a shift, but I decided to keep going. Upon lifting, I found myself suddenly in a snap spin, with the car sitting much lower than the Seven already sits, accompanied with lots of grinding noise!

The A arm on the Seven differential (Not wheel suspension) locates the rear axle side to side. The top of the A bracket broke off the tabs mounted to the differential housing, allowing the rear axle to rotate 90 degrees. Imagine what my coil over shocks looked like, now bent in a U shape? Imagine no support and the car chassis now sitting on the ground as I spun in circles? The poor drive shaft U joint, trying to continue to rotate even through a 90 degree bend? And the expression on my face as I tried to figure out what was happening? Priceless...

Good memories...
 

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It's more important to focus on your turn-in, car placement, and braking as you learn the car than it is to worry about being in precisely the right gear. Not driving well will cost you far more than you will gain from gear selection.

When I coach new drivers with very limited track experience, the first thing I do is have them leave their car in 4th gear for the entire lap if at all possible (and you'd be surprised, but it's do-able in just about anything!) and then introduce downshifts later in the day as they've gotten more comfortable.

Steve
 

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I just got my 05 elise a few days ago, and I've been having a blast driving it through the country. Having read up a lot on mid-engine driving techniques, I make a constant effort to keep the throttle consistent while taking tighter turns. That being said, I have a few questions.
I'm still fairly new at this, so with that disclaimer...

Constant throttle isn't ideal for any corner. Brake in a straight line, start applying throttle at the turn-in point, and increase throttle near the apex, with full power hopefully before the turn out point.

Of course, there's all sorts of advanced techniques like trail braking, threshold braking and the like...

The thing you have to worry about most, is lift-off oversteer, Lift-off oversteer - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia which basically means, don't lift your foot off the throttle abruptly in a mid-engine car while in a turn, else you'll spin.
 
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