Driving Technique
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"The apex gets all the glory, but entry wins the race."  Chris Sneed discusses driving technique.

The Basics of Handling a Turn

by Chris Sneed


sneed1In last month’s issue we talked about braking.  After covering braking, we will discuss the turn.  Everyone loves the turn.  It's what makes driving interesting and where races are won.  A turn has three basic parts:  entry, apex and exit.  The apex gets all the glory, but entry wins the race.  Once you have finished your braking and slowed the car to the desired speed to enter the turn, begin turn entry.  There is no coasting between braking and turn-in.  Remember though, the slower you turn-in, the faster you can exit versus entering a turn too fast.  So ramp your turn-in speed up as you learn the turn.  For more advanced drivers, you can still use the brakes at this point, which is called trail braking.  We will discuss trail braking in future articles.  Today we are going to stick to the basics.


To properly start a turn entry you need to locate a point on the track where you are going to start turning and a point you are going to drive to.  This is the apex of the corner for single apex turns.  As you begin turn-in, the weight of the car will begin to move from the nose to the side of the car that is on the outside of the turn.  The weight will mostly be on the front outside tire and somewhat on the outside rear tire.  If your car is not handling correctly, you will start to feel under or over steer at this point.  Under steer is when the rear tires have more traction than the front and cause the car to continue on the path it is on and not turn as you wish.  Over steer is when the front tires have more traction and the rear of the car is trying to pass the front, commonly called "drifting."  Assuming that your car doesn't have any handling issues, it will go where you point it and that should be at the apex of the turn.  Once your turn-in is complete, the car weight should settle into an even distribution, front to rear, and mostly on the outside.


As you approach the apex, your inside front wheel should be as close to the apex point as possible.  Sometimes it is helpful to overrun the apex point to the inside until you can find the exact point on the track where your wheel is closest to the apex point but not over it.  Don't be afraid to drive on to the curbing.  As you reach the apex point, you should have spotted your exit point and as you pass the apex point, apply throttle to accelerate out of the turn and onto the next straight.  As you apply throttle, the weight of the car will shift to the rear and mostly on the outside tire.  This will cause the steering to lighten and you may start to feel the car slightly over steer as the rear of the car gains mass.  Some over steer on corner exit is good.  As you continue to move away from the apex, continue to pour in throttle as fast as possible without spinning the car or tires and maintaining the line to your exit spot.  How much acceleration to apply will vary from car-to-car and depend on changes in track conditions.  As you finish the turn, you should be at full power and the outside of the car should be at the edge of the track.  Don't be afraid to use the curbing on exit to increase the arch of the turn so you can apply more throttle sooner.


Good luck out there and have fun!!
















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