Ask Ross

Q&A with Ross Bentley

 

Q: In endurance racing, when is it best to make it difficult for a faster car to pass, and when should our fastest driver be in the car?

Q: “I’ve read through your endurance racing eBook several times and it’s awesome. It’s a topic where there’s not a whole lot of information out there on. I have a couple of questions I was hoping I could pick your brain about. First, I completely agree it’s easier to let faster traffic by because you lose less time to the rest of your competitors. One question I have on that is sometimes we compete in rather small fields of around 20 cars for between 3-5 hours. We are not usually the fastest car based on lap time, but we do make up quite a bit of time based on pit strategy and time spent in the pits. Should we try to make it difficult on the faster cars to pass us? Not necessarily blocking anyone, but also not pointing them by. My second question is about when we should use our faster driver. We typically only use two drivers, with one being 3-5 seconds faster than the other one per lap. Do you want the faster driver to start the race and try to move up the pack as far as possible, or do you want the faster driver in when the pack is more spread out towards the end of the race? This one’s a bit of a head-scratcher for me. Any knowledge you have on these topics would be greatly appreciated.”

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Q: What separates the champions from all other drivers? What tip would you give a driver to be a tenth of a second faster?

Q: “I’m ‘studying’ about the art of racing, mostly karting. What actually separates a champion from the rest of the field? You’ve said that what separates drivers is the release of the brakes. In karting, I see a lot of drivers brake in a straight line, turn in (with brake pedal) and move to the throttle. So, if I’m right, the best drivers brake in a straight line but at the turn in point they do not release the brake pedal but slowly release pressure on the brakes. How would a karting champion handle this transition? Racing is about fine-tuning your driving style, but what is perfect driving? You see drivers so close in lap-time, but what tip would you give someone to be a tenth faster than everybody else?”

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Q: How do I reduce the amount of “chatter” I get with the tires while cornering?

Q: “I have a question for you – it’s about the ‘tire chatter’ I experience a fair amount of at Sebring. It’s most notable at Turn 7, and to a lesser extent at Turns 5 and 10. Other drivers have described this as me needing to reduce corner speed a bit, as well as not ‘throwing the car in there quite so aggressively,’ but I was wondering if you had other ideas. My setup is that I run a Ford Focus ST with some engine and suspension mods, and Maxxis Victra RC-1 tires. In experimenting on Turn 5 a bit I found that if I relaxed my hands a bit at the apex and let the car run out a bit more to track out, that I could reduce the amount of chatter, but the chatter is still there. I don’t see too much opportunity to do that sort of an adjustment at Turn 7.”

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Q: Why are new race track surfaces faster? Why do old tires have more grip?

Q: “Why are new track surfaces faster and why do they seem to like old tires? I race regularly at two north Texas tracks (Eagles Canyon and MSR Cresson), both of which have new surfaces. Cresson just received a new top coat and immediately became over a second faster. ECR is essentially a new track. Both tracks are at least a second faster on high heat cycle tires compared to stickers. What is it that makes newer surfaces faster, and why would old tires add to the speed even more?”

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Q: How can I drive smoothly, but also be fast?

Q: “As I look forward to the 2022 race season, and watching instructional videos, I often hear people talk about the importance of being ‘smooth’ with your inputs.  At one level, I understand that, when going down the front straight, if I rapidly step on the brake while turning the steering wheel as fast as I can is likely going to cause me to lose control. But I also know that “smooth” is not the same thing as ‘slow.’  So, my question is, how can you make rapid inputs, while still being ‘smooth’?”

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