Move The Corner To Suit 2

Based on comments received I think I need to more explicitly state the moral of the story told in Move The Corner To Suit.

To review, I decided it best to move the “standard” line on the approach to B, as shown in Figure 1, to the right in order to not be required to lift on the approach to C. This allowed me to maximally accelerate coming out of B all the way to D. I decided it was better to give up some time early to gain more later. Compared to my run when I didn’t do this and compared to all my co-drivers’ runs who never did this I Saved Time.

Figure 1: Standard Line vs. Intended Line With The Corner Moved To The Right

A friend (a better driver than me) was at the event and commented that there was no way he did not have to partially lift on the approach to C. I have no reason to doubt that he is 100% correct. But, he was in a very different car with more power and worse tire-to-weight ratio and Street tires while I was on R-comps.

So, to be clear, I’m not advocating that every driver in every car should slow down enough at B (which is one way to change the path shape) or move the corner enough at B, to allow a no-lift approach to C. Anyone in most any car could slow down to 5mph at B and not have to lift approaching C, right? Of course, this would not be optimum. Slowing that much would be… no, I won’t say it! You get the idea.

The moral of the story is this: For every corner you meet ask yourself: Is the proper apex point, is the proper shape of the path, completely obvious?

We have so many connected corners in autocross that the answer is almost always that it is not obvious to us non-aliens.

I was walking the Bristol Tour course a few weeks ago with the friend mentioned above and I recall that we disagreed by a few feet about the location of the apex at the final super-sharp corner on day 2. Even now I have no idea who was right or wrong. I’m not even sure if I executed the corner as I intended during the course-walk. Again, we were driving very different cars. We could have both been right, but only for our particular car. (Ok, probably I was wrong!)

Here is my advice: look at every corner or corner complex and decide, for you and your car, the location of the apex and the best path shape, remembering that often you have the option to move the corner earlier or later and change the path shape with the steering wheel, brakes and throttle. There may be a cone there that 99 out of 100 people will say, “That’s obviously the apex.” Decide for yourself and play with the possibilities in your mind: What happens if I move the corner later? What happens if I move the corner earlier? Do I lose and then gain more? Do I gain and then lose more?

As someone once said, “Highest average speed wins every time.”

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