Question for the real drivers: Secret to low speed cornering?

MattD1zzl3

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Title pretty much says it all, I'm a newbie at driving around a track quickly and i find long low speed cornering (especially corners 90 degrees or more!!! Damn these to hell!) the most difficult part. Can you offer some explanation/guide on how to do it correctly and quickly?

If it matters, the cars usually in use are a 1993 Camaro Z28 and a 1995 Pontiac Trans am. (neither belong to me, my Z28 is still down :() both RWD cars with big fat tires and a low stance.

Thanks!
 

Labcoatguy

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I'm guessing your problem is understeer. One of the tricks then is to stay below the understeering threshold and do the classic slow in/fast out holding of the line. I had similar problems in my MR2, when I completely screwed things up in slow corners by flooring it at high steering lock, unloading the (already light) front tires right when they needed grip most. Tell us more about what you're doing and how it's going wrong.
 

MattD1zzl3

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Looking for more a general guide then anything, its not so much a real giant amount of understeer (no "Woah!" loss of control), but a gradual slipping kind of understeer, its sort of a "Slow in, touch the accelerator to begin to think about maybe going fast out, unable to hold the inside line"

Give the car some speed and a little shallower of a corner, and it does whatever i'm telling it to, no understeer whatsoever. And i doubt very much thats a result of downforce.

I can just (slightly) oversteer my way around the corner to solve the problem, but thats sloppy and slow.

General guide to low speed and more then 90 degree corners please! :mrgreen:
 

MadCow809

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if the front starts slipping, it means you are pushing too hard. Turn in the corner early and make sure you are not over speeding into the corner, let the front turn in and dont floor the throttle to early, because all it will do is spin the front wheels and you wont go anywhere. Be patient at mid corner and apply power as soon as you get grip.

Drive around the same corner a few times, find the maximum cornering speed and stick to that speed. I find that turning in early usually solves the understeer problem in FWD cars.
 
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Sir Stiggington

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Left foot braking should do the trick. When you turn in and feel the front isn't gripping into the corner, just feather the brakes with your left foot while keeping on the throttle with your right. It should shift weight forward and cancel outthe understeer.

Alternatively, you should try to flick it into the corner a bit. Not a huge flick, cause then it will slide, just a little flick and that should eliminate the initial understeer.
 

NooDle

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left foot braking, and remember better slow in, fast out than fast in slow out.
I had a sort of "guide to cornering" somewhere, i'll see if i can dig it up
edit : here it is : http://www.f1blog.org/some-page/

Called "when the turning gets tough"
 

Dino

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Something I do when racing rwd cars:
Go a tiny bit deeper into the corner to open up the exit angle. Slower into the corner to allow for greater initial turn-in. Once approaching the apex (or hitting it, depending on car), open up the stearing angle progressively. Carefully, but fairly quickly open the throttle, then allow the car to understeer a small bit as the front unloads. Watch rear traction. If all goes well, the car catapults out of the corner and moves over to the outside of the track without speed-wasting corrections.

Obviously, this doesn't apply to wider corners, where taking speed with you is essential.
 

Steve Levin

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For me, the absolutely hardest thing has always been getting slow enough for slow corners. There's always a thought of "my gosh, this corner can't be this slow" and "I feel like I am coming to a stop, that can't be right!"

What I would suggest is this: Move your braking points back a bit. So get the car very slowed down, REALLY slow, earlier, then start jumping back on the gas right away. Slow down more than you need at first, so that as you are on the power during the corner, so that you hit the apex exactly. You will find that you aren't needing to track out fully at that point, so try adding power on exit until the car IS needing to track out completely.

At any point, if adding power makes you start to miss the apex, move your braking point FARTHER back.

If you reach the point where you are hitting the apex and still not tracking out on exit under full power, THEN move the braking point back in.

In theory, the ideal braking point is the one that allows you to cross the apex flat on the gas and tracks out fully.

I know this is nothing more than a fancy way of saying "slow in, fast out" but there's a reason that adage holds true. When I start to push, I have to remind myself that the fastest laps come not from braking last, but getting back to the gas FIRST!

Steve
 

Zorg

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OK, general stuff rather than detail...

First off a Camaro and a Trans am are always going to make you work hard. No matter how low or how wide the tires they're never going to corner like a Noble or a Caterham as neither of them are particularly fine handling cars. But it's a track day, so that's half the fun and having to deal with less than perfect handling will, ultimately, make you a better driver.

Second, learn your corners. No-one posts a fast lap without knowing every corner intimately (OK, some freakishly talented drivers do, the rest of us don't!). By knowing your corners intimately you're better able to judge the point at which you start driving out of the bend (and, as often as not, that's before the apex) and so better able to judge the point at which you can start feeding the power back in. Knowing your bends can also allow you to do the 'slow in fast out' thing on corners where you don't have line of sight of apex and/or exit. You can throw yourself into blind corners at full pelt - you don't have to be able to see what's coming when you know what's coming. The better drivers get back on the gas earlier and exit the corner faster, whether the corner's sighted or blind. And if you get it right it's often going to feel frustratingly slow through the first phase of the bend.

On tight bends the line you take can be crucial. And if you've got a string of bends on top of each other that line can be quite unnatural (as in unlike the natural line you'd take through any of the bends if they were solo bends with a straight at each end). You're often looking for the line that maximises the width of the exit to the benefit of the next bend. This is something that only really comes into focus 'on the ground' so grab someone experienced at your next track day talk to them about this. And if you get the first bend in a series wrong you'll probably get 'em all wrong!

Finally: BE SMOOTH! Being sprung at each corner, having a chassis that flexes and almost universally having uneven weight distribution makes a car a poor solution to the problem of getting from A to B with direction changes along the way. Sudden weight transfer is the enemy! The car designers have done as much as they're going to do, the rest is up to you. If you watch a lot of guys at track days you'll see them stabbing on and off the breaks, stabbing on and off the throttle and tugging at the steering wheel. It can look quite flash but it's piss poor driving technique! Be smooth.

Did I say finally... well, one more thing. Splash out on some time with a race instructor. I'm not suggesting you go for a licence but you won't believe how much benefit you'll get from a few hours with a racing driver in the passenger seat. It will transform your driving, both on the track and on the road.

Not sure I've actually answered your question but maybe there's something of use in here.
 

tigger

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Finally: BE SMOOTH!
That's great advice to follow at all times, especially when driving hard. I don't really beat on the Fairmont, because the way it handles it might as well be missing a wheel, but when I've put cars through their paces I'd constantly think, "Smooth in, smooth out ..." I probably watched too much Karate Kid or something, but it helped me remain focused and kept me from hesitating.

Something that helped me was racing go-carts. Once I get a decent car I'll go out to Heartland Park for HPDEs, but right now cart racing is much cheaper, and a good way to learn about low speed cornering and improve your reflexes. It helps quite a bit with passing too, if you're interested in that.
 

MattD1zzl3

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First off a Camaro and a Trans am are always going to make you work hard. No matter how low or how wide the tires they're never going to corner like a Noble or a Caterham

They handle great at higher speeds (I've never had one let go at the front at normal cornering speeds, the only problem is getting sideways when you're a little too happy on the throttle on the exit), but something about cornering at low speeds (30-40) makes them understeer like you wouldn't believe. Like someone said here its obviously just "going too fast", but in reality that just feels like you're standing still

And is left foot braking really a good idea? I was told directly never to do that. I'm sure in faster motor sport its needed but do you really need to in a normal street car on a track?
 

Steve Levin

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Left foot braking could be an advantage just to transfer weight to the front of the car for turn-in on fast corners. Otherwise, you'll see little advantage.

Ayrton Senna didn't left foot brake, and he managed to be fairly quick.

Heck, I'd settle for being just Rubens Barrichello quick. :)

Steve
 

Zorg

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... but in reality that just feels like you're standing still

When I said to one of the instructors at Silverstone "I'm sure I can go faster than this." his reply was "Relax. Until you can get back on the gas you're just a passenger. Sit back and enjoy the ride!"
 

Zorg

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Actually, it's just occurred to me: Are you simply piling on too much gas too soon instead of being patient and waiting for your moment?
 

MadCat360

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Actually, it's just occurred to me: Are you simply piling on too much gas too soon instead of being patient and waiting for your moment?

In my experience the right moment to begin accelerating is just after you finish the lowest radius section of the corner. For instance on a hairpin, you would make a more L-shaped line through it, and would start accelerating just after the "crook" of the L and just before you hit the apex.

If you have a car that tends to drift understeer, you will need to take the apex at a deeper angle than you would with an oversteer car. For cars with ancient suspension like the Trans Am, it's important to not let the car roll too much. Keeping the front-outside suspension loaded is key. Taking a deeper angle at the apex will compensate for any drift understeer and allow you to accelerate more on the exit if you don't understeer. If you load the outside front suspension properly, it should feel like the car is gliding, and you won't have to correct your steering much.

Setup is also key. Having a brake balance set more to the rear will allow you to rub the brake under turn in and get that much more response out of the front wheels.

Also, on any car, if you take a corner too early but at the proper speed, everything will understeer. Before you try any thing different in the actual corner, try making the turn in later.

PS, on left-foot braking; don't. If you don't feel comfortable doing it, don't. You shouldn't ever need to use the brake at the same time as the throttle any way. The car only wants to do one thing at a time.

Ah, and final thing, if you haven't already, learn where your torque is! Especially for low-speed cornering. On most cars the torque builds with RPM, but not on all. For instance a Viper SRT-10 gets maximum torque at around 4.5k RPM, then falls off. It's very important to get the powerband right on exit and to tailor how much torque you get with your driving style. I don't like a lot of torque because I've very early on the throttle, but other drivers might like more.
 
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