I will try something a little different with this final part 6 of my transient response series. I’ll be making a series of slightly raw and unfinished posts that build on each other rather than work it all out, edit it all down and then post it all at once.
I’ll begin by freaking out some people with the following general statement which has arisen out of this work on transient response:
*** The fastest way through any infinite slalom is by crossing over mid-way between the cones. Any other strategy, i.e. being early or late, at any point, will be slower overall. ***
I think this statement is easy to prove and I plan to. But notice I said an “infinite” slalom.
Here’s another statement:
*** The fastest way through any generic, non-infinite slalom is probably achieved by starting early and ending late. ***
Notice the word “probably.” I say this because I’m not sure I can prove it. Notice the word “generic.” What I mean by this is not considering the course design immediately before and after the slalom.
What happens before (the entry) and after (the exit) of a slalom, like all other features in autocross, must always be considered because autocross is nothing if not an exercise in optimizing multiple variables. But we need to understand the two baseline, generic statements above first in order to have a clear way to optimize all three parts, i.e. the entry, the slalom itself and the exit. Common, relatively simple rules such as “enter early and stay early until the next to last cone, then accelerate out” is a rule that may actually be correct for 2 out of 3 slaloms in 2 out of 3 cars but if the 1 out of 3 times it’s wrong means the difference between a Nationals trophy and no trophy then maybe it would be good to know something more so you can tell when to do something different.