Driving Tip #17: Technical Corners

Pro driver and coach Kenton Koch breaks down off-camber and compression corners.

All tracks are different and have their challenging corners; compressions, camber changes and crests can make things tricky – or perhaps better worded – precision pays off. All require different driving techniques in order to get around them as quickly as possible. With competition fast approaching at Sonoma Raceway, for instance, there may not be a better time to start thinking how you tackle these elements. Hopefully this helps….

Off Camber Corners: These corners are the hardest corners you will encounter; the grip is not on your side. A good example of this would be Turn 2 at Sonoma Raceway. This requires very, VERY smooth inputs to not upset the car. It’s important to have the platform of the car as flat as possible throughout the corner, so early turn-in often is necessary. Slow hands at turn-in, trailing off the brake just past turn-in and using a little bit of throttle to settle the car at the apex are all helpful tools in the bag to get you swiftly through.

Compression Corners: A compression corner, such as Turn 6 at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, is a really good example. The corner has much more grip than the average flat corner, which means you can roll much more speed into the corner. Turn 6 is very tricky because the hill stops, flattening on the entry, and then you gain camber turning into the apex. This requires you to turn in slightly early with a lot of rolling speed and with a platform that is very flat, anticipating that the camber of the corner will catch the car. It’s important to make sure you are at full power once you hit the compression because you just picked up substantial front grip; you must keep the back end of the car stable when this occurs (and want to climb that hill exiting the corner). Turning in slightly early is a common goal for most corners that gain camber at the apex.

Crests: Corners with crests require experimentation to see what you can get away with. For example, Turn 3a at Sonoma crests just after the apex. As you crest, the car will lose grip and shift over a car width (or more) before the car “lands.” A small trick to help the car from getting unstable over the crest is to come off the power just slightly as you crest, open your hands, and then feed power as the car lands and settles. The amount of speed you can carry over the crest is the part you experiment with. But one thing I need to emphasize is to make sure you open your hands up as you crest or else the car will get loose.

All of these elements are tricky on their own, but there are corners that incorporate all of these into one, such as Turn 9 at WeatherTech Raceway. It has a compression at the apex, then goes off camber on the exit. This requires you to blend some of the techniques together.

In the end, these are general techniques that need to be fine-tuned for the corner at hand.