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Optimal brake point

Race Driving Fundamentals

Relevant Module: Braking > Brake Application > Brake Application

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I am not a professional driver; I just like getting faster at my local go karting track until I can afford the track.

During braking situations I have practiced braking early, late, using less brake , sometimes more for a shorter period of time. Sometimes it results in spins , or understeering off the track .

My questions are,

Is there an optimal brake point for a particular corner on every track?

When you become comfortable with your performance in a corner , should you continue attacking it or focus on another aspect of the track ?

My last question is , in a low power application, how do you maintain momentum through a tight hairpin?

When it comes to learning a track I suggest focusing on areas of greatest potential improvement first. With a coach at your side it's easier for them to point those opportunities out, but oftentimes you can tell you're losing time to others in a certain portion of the track more than others, or perhaps you know you can improve greatly in an area because some of the time you handle a portion much better than others.

I coach my students based on 10/10 being max speed I feel is reasonably possible through a section, and find people usually start out by taking a course at 3-6 out of 10 pace. Some areas at 3, some at 6, some in the middle. Rather than trying to push a 6/10 pace corner to 7/10 pace first, I suggest focusing on the 3/10 section and get it to a 4. Then get everything up to a 5 bit by bit, then to a 6. By the time you do this, realistically without focusing on your stronger areas you'll probably still have improved and be operating at 6-8 out of 10 pace, and then you work on the 6s, and so on. In my experience, that will give you the biggest lap time improvements in the safest manner.

Once you know the quickest speed and location you can turn into the corner and successfully complete it, then you can work on braking as late and hard as possible without missing your turn in speed and location. In a cart, it take very little brake to cause a spin, so I'd start by completing braking in a straight line, then turn in when you feel you've reduced speed sufficiently.

Any time someone asks how to negotiate a corner I want to know what came before it and what comes after it, because corners are often close enough to influence optimal line through the other corners.

Generally speaking low power applications benefit from momentum as you stated, so an broader arc that allows you to maintain speed may be ideal, but on a karting track as long as there are others out there with you, protecting the inside line and avoiding being passed often takes precedent.

Short answer, kinda -

If you have a clear track, there will be an approximate braking points for application, easing it of, and fully releasing the brakes. However, even with a 'kart, tyre wear, pressure increases in the tyres, and changing track conditions will affect exactly where that point is, as will changes in line due to those same factors.

As Mike said, you also need to look at corners as combinations, as a 'fast' line through one may place you on a line that is slower over the next few and/or compromise one's speed the whole length of a straight.

As Mike also said, you will often need to compromise, to place your kart, or vehicle, in a position to stop your opponents undertaking yo, or taking a better line that will allow them more overtaking speed before the next corner.

With low power, momentum is your friend - speed is hard to gain so the less you lose in a corner the better, especially when exiting onto a straight. Karts also use a solid drive axle, and this means a lot of tyre drag - one of the reasons they're thrown into corners is to unload the inner rear which reduced that drag, and also greatly reduces the understeer the lacked axle would cause.

What are you using to check how effective your different braking points and/or lines are having in your overal lap times? A simple "Go-Pro"camera (or maybe 'phone ap'?) with a timer readout would be the most basic for actual feedback between points, but a bit more labour intensive than a 'proper' tool. If you have the option of a mic' input, even better, as you can comment on what you tried, how well it worked, etc, as you record.

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