Turn 3 Entry
Turning in up the hill to enter into turn 3 is completely blind and it is very easy to get lost. We find the most common mistake at Road Atlanta is turning too early or too aggressively to the left approaching the turn 3 brake zone.
There really are no great reference points for the turn in point, the only marker that is effective to use is where your car apexes the curb on the left as you get ready to start braking for turn 3.
incorrect apex spot
Here we can see our driver apexing the start of this curb. When drivers start to roll in a lot of entry speed this will cause the car to start pushing them to the right, making it difficult to keep left to set up for the turn in into turn 3. We really want to see drivers apexing closer to the middle of this curb. That will allow the car angle to be better and allow the driver to have an easier time keeping it to the left with a good amount of entry speed.
Correct apex spot
In turn 5 we see drivers often turning back to the right after 4 too early and getting to the curb on our right in the brake zone too early. This is a very subtle difference but that makes it more difficult to avoid hitting that curb, and once again if we challenge the brake zone and get back to the right too early it pushes the car to the left and makes it hard to keep right to set up properly for the turn in point.
too early to get back to the right
The best marker for this is to see where you are getting to that curb on the right. If you are out there at the start of the curb then you opened back to the right too early. We want to get our right front close to that curb on the right about a half car length to one car length after it starts.
That will allow us to keep the car more parallel with the curb and keep it to the right in the brake zone. The next thing we see drivers consistently doing in turn 5 is getting to throttle too late. The esses are an extremely fast section, so it naturally makes drivers feel like they are over slowing turn 5, when in most cases the opposite is actually happening.
Make sure you are able to pick up initial throttle right at the apex point (no earlier than that) and get back full throttle before we get to the exit curb. If you aren’t able to pick up initial throttle until after the apex, you likely rolled too much entry speed and you will be losing time all the way down to turn 6.
This one surprised us, we did not expect to see turn 6 on the list of the top 3 mistakes we see at Road Atlanta. In turn 6 we have a ton of camber, which means we have more grip than most other corners on the track.
Coming out of turn 6 we have a very short run to turn 7. That combined with cars typically picking up a lot of understeer in turn 6 because of the camber, it is a total entry speed corner. We want to roll enough entry speed into here to delay our initial throttle application spot.
If you find yourself picking up the throttle at the beginning of the apex curb, then you probably didn’t roll enough entry speed. That throttle is just making the understeer worse and typically causes drivers not to be able to get back to full throttle as early as we would like to.
Because we are typically already limited by the front end grip and getting to throttle shifts the weight backward (which means it takes away front grip) we are then really limiting overall grip.
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We want to focus heavily on the brake release and carry a very light brake application to about the start of that apex curb and then have a coast period. Yes, you heard that right! Coasting is okay to do on the race track!
In an absolute ideal scenario we trail brake about 3/4th through that apex curb and then pick up the throttle, but even in ideal situations that is really hard to do. To build up to that it is okay to work on trail braking down to the start of the curb and then coasting. It is a nice stepping stone in learning how to trail brake.
When done right you will be able to roll a lot more entry speed and then when you pick up the throttle you will be able to do so more aggressively and get a good squirt of full throttle depending on your car!