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Karl's Right - But I'm Not Gonna Do That (archive)

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Posted by Chris in Atlanta on August 02, 2001 at 16:07:19:

In Reply to: Re: advice: cornering quirks (long) posted by Karl Asseily on August 02, 2001 at 12:37:09:

Any more. Up to this point in my autocrossing experience (advanced intermediate driver?), I have been working on smooth-smooth-smooth. But I had a revelation this weekend.

Everything Karl says is true for most drivers. Shifting tends to "unsettle" the car, as does significant braking, braking at the wrong time, lifting too much, and a few other things.

An unsettled car is bad for 99% of drivers. Where is the rear end going, how do I keep the car going in the right direction? Half the folks here will overcorrect, making the problem worse. . .

I had a revelation this last weekend. A friend of mine co-drove my car on Sunday. Jay Parcon, an ex-rally-er, he probably has the best car control skills of anyone in the Atlanta region. He's not the fastest driver, mind - a bit TOO aggressive.

But his point, well taken, is that the CAR has to be smooth. The driver should be almost frantic with action. Being a passenger with him was thrilling. Going through a single turn: BRAAA - quiet - BRAAA - quiet - BRAAAAAAAAAA! He was pointing the car with the throttle. And when the rear end came around, as it invariably did, a quick, jerky counter-steer. And the car went exactly where he wanted it to.

There were several points on the course that I would have lifted (and I was one of the fastest drivers Saturday), where he hit the throttle, or even downshifted and hit the throttle. Wow! Instead of controlling the understeer we have going into a corner, he CREATED oversteer.

And he had me shifting down to first AFTER the 180. Another driver, slightly better than I, said "of course" to this. An advanced driving technique, not for the faint of heart. (big grin)

It is all part of pushing the car beyond its normal limits. THIS is why the nationals level guys are 5-10% faster than we are. They do these things that feel WRONG to us. But the key difference is that they can do this and stay in control of the car.

Most people can't. Most autocrossers can't. You shouldn't try. But. . . As Jay says, novices are very rough and jerky. Intermediate drivers tend to be smooth inside and out. GOOD drivers look smooth from the outside, but are anything BUT on the inside.

Oh, and two or three thousand dollars of double adjustable Konis really reduces this bad habit. (grin)

BTW, my belief is the more that I autocross, the less I care what I have on the street. On those fun off ramps, you are using 15% of the car's abilities, then 99%, then 10%, then 110% and you spin. It just FEELS like you're at 90%.

That's why I LOVE autocrossing, and do it nearly every weekend.

That is completely normal, and characteristic of the M Coupe, which is tail happy.
When you lift the throttle to shift, you are transfering weight to the front of the car, thereby lightening up the rear significantly. If you do it too fast (lifting up that is), the change will be too abrupt, and will upset the balance of the car. What you have to practice is smooth transitions off the throttle. Lift up, yes, but lift up slowly, so the weight shift becomes gradual.
This is especially CRITICAL if you are at the traction limit. Any error or sudden weight transfer will make your car loose on the rear end VERY quickly.

After shifting, EASE back on the throttle. Don't gas it super quickly. Again, you'll be transfering weight from front to rear, which you do not want to be done abruptly.

Weight transfer, I believe, is the most important aspect of car handling, and only smoothness can help you out in that respect.

Good luck driving your favorite onramps. In SoCal, we have aplenty :-)


I love accelerating all out down long curving on-ramps. I've noticed that while under full throttle, the car handles one way and as soon as I lift the throttle and shift up, the handling seems to change significantly. Then, when I hit the gas in the next gear, the car seems to hunker down again and feels more solid in the turn. In neither case do the tires break loose but it just feels like under more extreme lateral G's, that the car would become "unpredictable" during shifts. Aside from giving up my on-ramp hobby, are there other tricks I should consider or is this a non-problem to begin with?

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