Ask Ross

Q&A with Ross Bentley

 

Q: What advice do you have for heel-toe downshifting, comp school prep & racing on a budget?

Q: “I have three questions for you. First, while listening to Podcast #99 (Driving with 3 Pedals), it made me think about my heel-toe downshifting. I had thought I was pretty decent at it, however when looking at my data and watching video of my feet I not only realized that I was lessening my brake pressure while downshifting but I was also pretty slow and sloppy with my footwork. Any advice beyond keeping your heels planted?…

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Q: Why does Nico Rosberg make such violent steering movements?

Q: “I have a burning question about a video of Nico Rosberg blasting around Silverstone in a Porsche 918 (https://youtu.be/7nEp8fHCGGU ). His counter steering is so immediate, quick, and almost violent. The question is: are these almost full-opposite lock “twitches” managing potential oversteer, or are the front tires being driven just over the limit and “letting go.” Any analysis would be much appreciated, Ross.”

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Q: With limited time between autocross runs, should I spend time analyzing data or do mental prep?

Q: “I am an avid autocrosser, running a Porsche 914 race car. I only have 10-15 minutes between runs. I always have a course map (either provided by the organizers or drawn myself from a morning course walk), and my past habit is to close my eyes and carefully rerun the last run in my mind, making note of what went well, and where I think I can improve. That’s also very good for just calming me and putting me in a peaceful state of mind for the next run too. Is that perhaps better prep than worrying about the data? Your insights would be appreciated.”

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Q: How do I know I’m progressing if I have 3 different HPDE instructors telling me different things?

Q: “My question to you is, how do you progress while having three different instructors in three different events. Yes, they were all helpful in their own ways, one even guided me to your books, but it is hard to track progress without any basis. My only basis to know I am progressing is becoming able to drive my car comfortably at the limit of my tires. I don’t have any information gathering devices to know track times, but I have taken videos of my events. Any advice?

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Q: What’s better for learning – endurance or sprint racing?

Q: “I’m wondering if I should start by getting my competition license and doing sprint/club racing first, or endurance racing with series like AER/ChampCar. I get a lot of conflicting info about this and I’m wondering what’s your take on it. Endurance racing offers more bang/buck seat time and a lot more passing (and being passed), but sprint racing seems to be about raw speed in which it allows you to make decisions passing some very competitive people.”

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Q: How do I improve my racecraft – passing, being passed, setting up passes?

Q: “My race results have been very inconsistent. I am far less experienced with racing and I’ve found myself unknowingly putting myself in committed situations/lines that may result in contact when making a pass or defending. I think it’s part impatience/not knowing when to concede, part being off my line, and part not anticipating other drivers lines. Would it be possible to cover some of these concepts and perhaps divulge some exercises I and others can do to improve the bumper-to-bumper aspect of my driving?”

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Q: How can I improve my braking footwork?

Q: “As I’ve gotten quicker, I’ve been able to hone my technique and get tangible results. One area that I just can’t seem to get comfortable with is braking. I’m starting to chase tenths, and I feel like I’m leaving a few tenths out there because of sloppy braking. There’s no real consistency. Sometimes I even miss the brake pedal and that’s a terrifying half-second as I then frantically get my full foot on the pedal into threshold braking, and blow the rev-match for the downshift because my foot is not in position. And of course, the lap is now gone… What gives?”

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Q: How do I adapt to a new (rear-engined) car?

Q: “I’ve recently bought a 991 Carrera after owning (and tracking) a 1999 Porsche Boxster for 6 years at various PCA DE events. In light of the obvious bump in horsepower and the different placement of the engine, I was wondering if you had any tips on how to approach taking the 991 out on track coming from the Boxster.”

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Q: How can I get better at remembering what I felt when driving on track?

Q” “Something I’ve been pondering lately goes well with improving the mental game, I think. I guess it’d be called mindfulness? I go out in the car for an HPDE session with a plan of a few things to work on and I think I do pretty well sticking to that – most times anyway! 🙂 But then I get out of the car and while I can remember certain moments from the session, like a huge pucker factor moment carrying too much speed into a turn, the rest of it is all a blur. Is there some sort of corresponding technique to visualization for this?”

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Q: Why should I start racing in an open-wheel car?

Q: “Hey, I have a quick question. I can’t remember if I read it from the book you wrote or one of your online conversations/blogs, but I think somewhere you stated that starting in an open wheel car was the best way to start off racing. Is there any specific reason why this is the case in your eyes?”

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Q: How much rotation into a corner is the right amount? And what’s the difference between rotation & oversteer?

“How does one determine the amount of rotation that should occur in a corner? Given that there are appropriate turns and areas to invoke different amounts of rotation during cornering, how does one determine how much is the right amount? What are signs that that you are under, over or have accomplished the desired rotation? Also please differentiate between rotation, drift, slide and oversteer.”

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Q: Given the chance, do I pass now or wait to the last lap?

Q: “Imagine a scenario: I am in the second position trying to grab first place as the car is close to me in front. I have many laps to go. Should I try to overtake as soon as I can or wait for the race to come down to only a few laps to the finish, and then make my move? What type of strategy do you think is best? Should I hold back a little and wait to make a move later or just try to overtake him as soon as possible while I have more laps?”

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Q: Will lowering tire pressures help over bumpy surfaces?

Q: “I am driving a 2000 Porsche Boxster S at Porsche Autocross events and when I drive my Boxster over a bumpy section my Traction Control comes on and slows my car. I don’t have a switch to turn off the TC. To help with traction should I lower the tire pressure? Would raising the rear spoiler help with this issue as well? The spoiler raises at 75 mph but I can raise manually.”

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