Driving Techniques: How and When to Turn Into the Corner

by Rob Schermerhorn on June 30, 2011

The Definitive Turn-In Technique

Commitment. Takes commitment to succeed at an endeavor, whatever it may be in your life. Performance driving at a high level does require decisiveness and commitment.

You may recall our “Separation of Controls” technique where you use one control (steering, brake, and throttle) at one time; this article discusses ‘steering’. Assuming you’ve progressed from novice and have at least one performance driving (or racing) school behind you, the technique you use on the steering wheel must be refined.

The Definitive Turn-in Proper ‘turn-in’ technique takes commitment and conviction

All beginners—and nearly every intermediate level performance driving student I’ve coached—turn in to the corner too slowly. Causes are many; a big one is being unsure regarding choosing one particular point to initiate the corner. Fact is that as you’re learning this technique, or you’re learning a new circuit (or blowing cobwebs out post-winter) you must choose a point to initiate the turn. Use your vision, look well beyond this corner, pick a point….THEN TURN WITH CONVICTION!

Novice drivers are frequently told to “Slow your hands” on the steering wheel; which is correct for that stage in your learning, you simply don’t have the quality seat time to gain the muscle memory, the experience, to know precisely when, where and how-much to turn the steering wheel. Now that you have at least a few hours (if not many days) on track with an experienced driving coach, you’re more familiar with ‘when’ and ‘how much’ to turn the wheel when turning into the corner on the racetrack. Here’s what to do:

  1. Choose your turn-in point using visual reference and sense of preservation
  2. Transition from straight steering to full commitment to the corner in about a tenth of a second or so
  3. The amount of steering input to be no-more/ no-less than what the Largest Possible Radius (LPR) is for driving a large arc: set steering angle once with minor corrections

The “definitive turn-in” technique makes best use of your tires, transitioning to maximum efficient slip angle in the shortest time (reducing lap time). It also improves your LPR (or arc) through the corner, hence allowing maximum G’s through said corner.

Taking too much time to transition to full cornering—crabbing into the corner, double turn-in—costs time if you’re a competition driver, costs efficiency and increases chances for mistakes if you’re just out for a fun day at the track.

You can practice this technique on the street, use the 12 foot wide lane; pick a turn-in point and go! Practiced every day, you’ll find yourself doing it instinctively at your next track day.

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