The value of simulators as a driver training tool continues to go up, as both the software and hardware improves. I’ve recently started using Forza, and while some think it’s more of a game than a training tool, I disagree. The quality of the graphics and the realism of the cars’ performance are very impressive. Of course, like any tool, it’s what you do with it that matters most. So, when Ray Phillips reached out with an article that focused specifically on using a sim to develop the technique of trail braking, I knew it would be a great illustration of how to use this training tool. -Ross
In Speed Secrets Weekly #134, we answered some questions from readers. A couple of those answers discussed the use of trail braking to carry more speed through the corners. This is an advanced technique that requires a lot of practice and we all know that practice at the race track is limited and costly. So why not use a simulator to teach yourself this technique?
The Logitech G27 is a great wheel and pedal set to start off with and one of the more popular modifications for the brake pedal is the Perfect Pedal (www.perfectpedal.com). Of course, you will need a robust computer with a powerful graphics card to run the simulation software; a good monitor is a must, as well. You can mount your wheel and shifter on a desk or you can go a step further and buy a cockpit. If you’re a racer, then you will probably compare these costs to some of your standard racing costs and realize that it isn’t that much money to have something you can use in your home to help you step up your game!
Here are a couple of data traces from two different drivers in the same type of car, going into the same corner on iRacing.com. These highlight the differences between using and not using the proper trail braking technique. The data traces show steering, brake, and throttle. In Figure 1, the driver was not trail braking properly and you can see that the brake pressure builds up quickly, stays roughly the same, and then increases again as he gets closer to the corner.
Even though this driver did have some steering input while he was on the brakes, when he comes off the brakes, the car’s weight transfer from front to rear is dramatic because of the amount of brake pressure that he was using at the end of his braking. One of the advantages of trail braking is that it slows down the speed of the weight transfer from front to rear; this allows the driver to keep the car on the edge of adhesion. Incidentally, this driver was also experiencing lots of understeer through the corner. You can see that he had to lift off the throttle to transfer more weight back to the front of the car to give his front tires some more grip and minimize the understeer.
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