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Hoping to do a couple of track days this spring if I get my brakes sorted.

I dont have a ton of track experience. In previous cars I always used the "point and shoot" technique. All the braking in a straight line, nice late Apex and minimal throttle until the car is straight. In other words very safe.

IIRC this type of driving is mostly associated with front engine RWD cars, and rear engine cars (911).

I fear part of the beauty of mid engine cars and their balance is that best performance comes when trail braking is used and early apexing allowing the power to be applied earlier.

These are not techniques I have learned.

So, how do you drive on track?
 

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First suggestion is to take a class with someone like a Skip Barber to learn how to drive on a track, how to choose a line, how to brake, etc. They don't let you use your car but the experience you gain is mostly transferable to other cars. You need a helmet that is certified, you should have driving shoes because the pedals are small and close together, and driving gloves. To prepare the car you remove any covers on the wheels so you can torque the lug nuts in Tech, you take EVERYTHING out of the car including the spare. Increase the tire pressures. If you don't have good tires and plenty of brake pad get some new ones. You can wear out a set of pads in 1 day on the track and worn or old tires are just plain dangerous on a track. Hire an instructor for at least your first session so he can point out any bad habits and give some tips on the track. You will find a Lotus can handle turns a lot better than just about any other car in it's class. That means you can go into turns faster (brake later) and apply power sooner coming out. The most important thing I learned is you must think faster meaning if you are not thinking ahead of what the car has to do you will lose control and it can happen so quickly you won't even know. The other thing I learned is where you are looking is where the car will go so always be aware of where your eyes are looking and make a point of looking in the right place. For your first day don't overdue it. 2-3 sessions is plenty. Not only is it hard on the driver it is also hard on the car. Before going out on the track have at least 3/4 tank of fresh fuel. Make sure the car is in "Good Knick" so you don't have to be towed in when it breaks. Bring soneone along to take pictures. Have fun.
David Teitelbaum
 

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1. First and foremost repeat this phrase: SPEED WILL COME. It maybe doesn't/won't make sense at first....but two other expressions that essentially mean the same thing > A) first you've got to go slow to go fast. B) you can't win it on the first lap but you sure can lose it. 2. Buy shoes and gloves from Race-Quip / Safe-Quip via their site …..or go to most any SCCA Regional &/or Majors race weekend event because there is generally at least one vendor there selling equipment out of their trailer - that way you can try 'em on. Not knowing what you've doing will generally have you buying a helmet that is not small enough / too big. You can special order / add an inch of foam in the cheek area of a helmet 3. Once you've gotten gloves, drive with them always anywhere any car. Once you've gotten used to the feel of 'em, gripping a steering wheel without 'em will feel like you're clasping a piece of spagetti. 4. Learn to left foot brake. 5. There are 3 kinds of corners [maybe more on that later]. 6. Bleed the brakes before going on track.
 

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2007 Lotus Exige S
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While I don't drive an Esprit there are some common concepts. Early apex is not gong to be your friend and will not let you get to power sooner, with more and more seat time play with this on some corners but in general late apex. Get an instructor if you can, it will help and they will see things you do not. Good driving shoes are nice to have, I also like gloves but at HPDE there really is no need. Make sure car is in good shape to keep your mind focused on driving and not on the car. Watch videos of the track you will be at if you are unfamiliar with it, watch lines and learn the flow of corners. Trail braking is faster but takes practice as does left foot braking, unless you are going for lap times these should not be a focus early on. Have good vision, look ahead passed the corner and be aware of other cars on track with you. Feel what the car is telling you, be aware if the tires have grip or are sliding and adjust driving/pressure as needed. I am not sure about starting tire pressures for the Esprit but the rule of starting high may not apply. Not sure how forgiving the Esprit is if you lift mid corner.

Most importantly, have fun.
 

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2005 Elise LSS Saffron Yellow
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First: get some instructor time with an instructor who can turn fast laps in a light mid engine car.

One can go way down the cornering technique rabbit hole, but it's fair to say that a light weight mid engine car with low polar moment is going to penalize big steering inputs compared to a heavier, longer front or rear engined car. I've driven all three types hard, including autocross and (some) track time. I haven't driven an Esprit specifically, so I might be wrong (please comment, Esprit people), but the footage I've seen suggests that they handle like a mid-engine Lotus (which, of course, they are), which means you get turn in very easily if front and rear are set up correctly. No heroic measures are required to get a good line through the turn. Smooth really is fast with these cars.

If you have good tires and good suspension setup, the car is going to be quickest through the turn with a simple drive from outside to apex and back to outside (assuming something like a level, constant radius 90 degree). The car rotates very easily and quickly with a very light touch - you won't need to muscle the nose around to get it turning, and you won't want to if you're doing things right because the ultimate traction limit for front and rear axles is very close to the same on a properly balanced car, and there aren't any dynamic surprises, as with a rear engined car. So you rotate the car into the turn with a gentle steering input and then just work the wheel to maintain the line you want through the apex. As long as you don't lift (trailing throttle oversteer), it's very predictable, which means you can work the car at the limit of adhesion with a minimum of drama.

If you've got great brakes (you should) it will late apex very nicely - dump all the speed trail braking on the way in, make the turn, and accelerate hard on the way out. Whether a late apex line or a traditional out-apex-out line will be faster for you will depend on tire and suspension setup - which axle has more grip when. If the nose gets really light (pushes hard) in turning acceleration, you may want to apex later to allow full throttle acceleration earlier on exit.

Point being: you don't need to haul the nose into the turn, like with a front engine car, and you don't need to kick the rear end out on purpose to get a fast line through the turn, as with a rear engine car. My Elise forced me to unlearn fighting FWD push in cornering. Now the FWD Toyota feels like an utter pig in a corner, which it is when compared to a Lotus.
 

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I've yet to see an early apex applied to any car as a rule. Even in a mid engine car you'll be doing late apex or geometric apex unless there is something about the corner that says otherwise. Trail braking is kinda the opposite of what you described in the OP. Most beginners are taught to turn deeper in the braking zone, which means the speed is going to be low so that you can rotate the car without any excitement, and then step on the gas. Often you're able to apply the throttle full much earlier from the apex in this method. With trail braking it will often push your initial throttle application much closer to the apex - you won't be able to get on the throttle earlier due to increased corner entry speeds.

I guess you could apply below to just about any skill you want to learn, but I think you have three things to do here- Establish you have the proper foundation to trail brake in the first place, understand what trail braking is and have a method to approach it, and lastly understand if your car setup lends itself to trail braking in the first place.

There is a pre-req to trail braking, and that is being comfortable with some of the limits of the car and being aware of car control - the nature of what trail braking is/means require it. With a good feel for the car you can try some things. Here's an excellent written guide to how to approach it: What Is Trail Braking And How To Trail Brake - The Official Trail Braking Guide

Instruction is a good idea here. If you don't want to pay out the nose, find an SCCA or Chin event and let them know ahead of time what you want to work on and why. Tell them up front you also want them to observe what habits you have that are slowing you down the most. You might find there are "bigger wins" to be had somewhere else, or foundational things that need to take priority.

Now you can assess something critical - does your car "take" to trail braking? The elise's are a little harder to trail because the rear calipers are small. On an esprit, you may find adjustments are required. If you're not in a rush, this is a concept you can develop on your own. If you want to fast forward a bit here, many tracks have track pro's that can teach you and comment on your car setup, but it won't be cheap. Ideally you'd find someone who's previously put an esprit though its paces and sponge off them.
 
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I've yet to see an early apex applied to any car as a rule. Even in a mid engine car you'll be doing late apex or geometric apex unless there is something about the corner that says otherwise. Trail braking is kinda the opposite of what you described in the OP. Most beginners are taught to turn deeper in the braking zone, which means the speed is going to be low so that you can rotate the car without any excitement, and then step on the gas. Often you're able to apply the throttle full much earlier from the apex in this method. With trail braking it will often push your initial throttle application much closer to the apex - you won't be able to get on the throttle earlier due to increased corner entry speeds.

I guess you could apply below to just about any skill you want to learn, but I think you have three things to do here- Establish you have the proper foundation to trail brake in the first place, understand what trail braking is and have a method to approach it, and lastly understand if your car setup lends itself to trail braking in the first place.

There is a pre-req to trail braking, and that is being comfortable with some of the limits of the car and being aware of car control - the nature of what trail braking is/means require it. With a good feel for the car you can try some things. Here's an excellent written guide to how to approach it: What Is Trail Braking And How To Trail Brake - The Official Trail Braking Guide

Instruction is a good idea here. If you don't want to pay out the nose, find an SCCA or Chin event and let them know ahead of time what you want to work on and why. Tell them up front you also want them to observe what habits you have that are slowing you down the most. You might find there are "bigger wins" to be had somewhere else, or foundational things that need to take priority.

Now you can assess something critical - does your car "take" to trail braking? The elise's are a little harder to trail because the rear calipers are small. On an esprit, you may find adjustments are required. If you're not in a rush, this is a concept you can develop on your own. If you want to fast forward a bit here, many tracks have track pro's that can teach you and comment on your car setup, but it won't be cheap. Ideally you'd find someone who's previously put an esprit though its paces and sponge off them.
Smooth, smooth, smooth! Back in the day, I had my Esprit at track events at Summit Point and Pocono, and lapping days at Road Atlanta and Watkins Glen and the best you can hope for is to learn to be smooth all the way around the track. That is what they mean to slow down to go fast. Be smooth and work your shifts, braking and steering inputs in. If you are scaring yourself, slow down and work on smoothing the driver inputs out. The Esprit is a fine scalpel for carving up a race track in the right hands. Only a pro can drive it at its limit, but we can certainly go fast enough to have a good time.
 
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