3 Fundamental for Improving Lap Times

Between rain and the Super Bowl, there were only 3 of us that showed up at Eagles Canyon last Sunday and so they cancelled the run groups and made it open track.  It was a great opportunity for me to slow down and work on my fundamentals while getting great feedback from the wet track.  

1. Vision - The two things I focus on for vision are to have my eyes at least one step ahead of where I'm at (sometimes two) and identifying/using an "eyes up" marker for track out.  So if brake marker 3 is where I want to start braking, once I look at it, I have to be able to rely on my body to begin braking when I get to that point while I move my eyes ahead to spot my turn in.  Once it begins braking, I move my eyes to the apex and rely on my body to turn in at the spot I already identified.  For track out, I'll find anything in the distance beyond the track that I can drive to.  A tree, radio tower, billboard, club house, 3rd martin house (T9 Hallet) and focus on it.  In reality, my eyes are constantly scanning but my primary focus point needs to be on what's next, not where I'm at.  
2. Weight Transfer - It sounds a little silly, but I mentally focus on the sides of my butt cheeks and picture them connected to my four contact patches.  In camshaft design, we learn that starting the ramp slower, allows us to accelerate it much faster without upsetting the valve springs.  The same is true of the springs on your shocks.  So if I start a turn in a little bit earlier with a slow turn of the wheel and then increase the speed the at which I turn it, not only will I have more grip, but it allows me to feel the weight transfer better.  The same is true for the brake and throttle.  
3. Trailbraking  - Many consider mounting an engine out behind the rear axle bad engineering, but Porsche has perfected it.  My favorite feeling on track is using my brake pedal to rotate the rear end of my 996 in a slower corner, and just as it's about to go from slip to slide, squeeze the throttle to catch it, transitioning weight to the rear and feeling it grip and rocket out of the hole.  It's what makes a 911 so unique and special in my opinion.  An isolation exercise I will often do for two or three laps to warm up my tires, mind, and body is a single closing and opening of the steering wheel per corner with my right foot linked to it.  Let me try to explain.  As I close the wheel to turn in, I begin releasing pressure on the brake in relation to how much I close off the wheel, all the way to the apex.  As I begin opening the wheel back up, I transition my foot to throttle and the more I open the wheel, the more I squeeze the throttle until I'm at WOT with the wheel nearly straight.  Then I repeat this at the next corner.  The more wheel I apply, the less I brake, the more wheel I open, the more I add throttle.  If you think of the traction circle, I want to stay out of the inner circle (no coasting) and instead trace around it.  This is only an isolation exercise and does NOT improve my lap times while I am doing it.  But it's also an exercise that can be done safely on track and the fundamentals that I practice and develop from it improve my lap times significantly.  

And while I worked on all three of these on Sunday, my body learns best from isolation and repetition, so I never worked on more than one at a time. 

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