How To Get through the Apex Part 2

Posted on May 2, 2013

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How to Get through the Apex part 2

Getting On The Gas

By: Rob Oakman

The Aim FXDD Ferrari getting the Power down (courtesy thestar.blogs.com)

The Aim FXDD Ferrari getting the Power down
(courtesy thestar.blogs.com)

Now that you have a grasp of the types of corners you have been running and where the apexes should have been, we can talk a bit more about how you get the chassis to run through them as fast as you can like the gingerbread man. Simply put, it’s time to gas it!

You need to understand that running through a corner is about starting a rotation at turn-in that becomes sharpest at the apex then opens up again to the exit when you accelerate. The way you do this begins with a good set-up that allows you to start a reliable rotation at turn-in and/or by using some of the tools like bias and trail-braking to control the pitch (Angle of your slide). If you have done everything right so far then getting to the apex is a matter of keeping your steering and pedal inputs steady so that the loads you have put into the chassis stay stable as it rotates. The only thing a chassis hates more than an unstable situation is a Wally steering it. By keeping everything stable the weight on each tire stays consistent so the level of traction on each one stays consistent. In other words, keep your hands steady, your feet on egg shells, and the rotation you started will continue pretty much on its own. But since speed is the name of the game in racing – not neat pirouettes – and straightaway speed is one of if not the biggest factor in a fast lap time, you need to stop the rotation at some point and get on the go pedal as soon as you possibly can, which changes things dramatically.

When you are on the brakes the weight of the chassis shifts forward and allows you to rotate quickly. Off the throttle and you shift weight forward, though not as much as with braking. You also have the fact that the drive train is trying to slow down the drive wheels, this puts stress on them and usually causes rotation in both front and rear wheel drive situations. When you get on the throttle however the weight shifts to the rear. It both plants weight on the rear tires and lightens the front. If it shifts too quickly or too much it wants to cause a push. A push mid corner is a bad thing because it kills the rotation entirely. What you need is a smooth lessening of the rotation to get out of the corner quickly while having enough grip in the drive tires for accelerating as quickly as you can. This is where set-up, a smooth set of hands, and this simple statement come in “Hit the throttle only when you know you Won’t have to release it again”.

When you get on and off the throttle you shift weight, and when the weight shifts around you change the amount of traction on each tire. When you change the traction on each tire the chassis starts to act on its own instead of how you want it to act. You may need to add steering corrections that take away energy from making you go fast, energy that the tires have to absorb that causes increased wear and over heating in them later in a run. It can make you miss your apex or exit or both. Stability is the name of the game here. Ideally as you run through the apex what you do is get to the throttle as hard as you can without breaking traction. But if you have an ill handling chassis there are a few things you can do.

Powering through the Apex in the rain is even tougher (courtesy hswallpaperstop.com)

Powering through the Apex in the rain is even tougher
(courtesy hswallpaperstop.com)

If you have rear wheel drive than adding extra power quickly should allow you to slide the rear tires as necessary to keep the rotation going. Just increase the throttle until you can maintain the rotation again. In a front driver you may have to go easier on the throttle and turn the wheels sharper and faster in the center of the corner. The chassis will shift weight faster and will naturally want to go where the fronts are pointed. Because the rears trail the fronts you get a slight pendulum effect which will have a tendency to make them slide again. You can also get aggressive with the steering. Enter the corner with a slightly wider arch then turn hard in the first third. You can add a stab on the brakes or the throttle to help create a rotation depending on the corner and chassis. Though tire wear and temp can become an issue, without that mid-corner rotation you are going to loose a lot of time anyway so you have to do something so try a few things.

With a good set-up the chassis will naturally rotate through the center of the corner, than, as you accelerate and lessen the rotation, the natural shift in weight will add traction to the drive wheels in a rear drive chassis while keeping the rotation controllable as you straighten out for the exit. In a front driver the shift in weight shift needs to be lessened through set-up and driving technique so that the fronts don’t loose grip and slide. Keeping your hands stead maintains the stability of the chassis and its weight distribution through all of its transitions in the corner so that you are able to keep ahead of the chassis and in control of what is happening. The same goes for a steady throttle. By getting on the throttle quickly you don’t waste time, and by staying on the throttle you don’t shift weight around unnecessarily. And believe me this is critical.

The subject of the next article is Turn-Out. Until then remember. The time to get on the throttle at or near the Apex is up to you, but make damn sure that once you do, you can stay there.

If you have any questions or comments feel free to send them along below and follow OakmanOnRacing.

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Posted in: How to Race