Q&A with Ross Bentley
Q: How many lines are there to get through Turn 5 at Road America?
Q: Does a car with less roll result in more cornering grip?
Q: “During a race, should ‘point-bys’ be used to help with an overtake?”
Q: “What is your opinion on the frequently expressed dictum “trail brake until apex then back on throttle starting at the apex”?”
Q: With a Front-Wheel-Drive car, should I rotate it early in the corner to reduce wheelspin on exit?
Q: “With FWD in a slow corner is some rotation a good way to solve inside wheelspin on exit?”
Q: “Which kind of corner requires more or less trail braking? Or is that always car dependent?”
Q: “I feel like I am pushing beyond my driving limits for better laps times, so what are your recommendations for improving my driving abilities so I can keep progressing?”
Q: I’m faster when chasing another car – why and how can I be fast when not following another driver?
Q: “Why am I faster when I’m chasing another car in a race than I am by myself?”
Q: How do I improve my corner entry speed when driving on a racetrack?
Q: Should I always brake as late and hard as I can for every corner? Is there ever a reason for braking lighter?
Q: “If you started braking lighter at the same place entering a corner, wouldn’t that suggest that you’re not quite at the limit under braking? And wouldn’t that make you slower because you don’t have the car at the limit?”
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.”
Q: What does “In a spin, both feet in” mean, and does it apply to PDK and semi-automatic cars?
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?”
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.”
Q: “Can you comment on the differences between warming up street tires and brakes versus slicks (for track day guys using 200 treadwear tires & general knowledge)?”
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?”
Q: “I am having trouble with brake bias adjustment. During a stint, are you supposed to advance the bias toward the front or toward the rear?”
Q: “In a chalktalk you did earlier this year there was a statement: get 2/3rds of the braking done in the first 1/3rd of the brake zone and the last 1/3rd in the last 2/3rds of the brake zone. I want to make sure that I got that right.”
Q: “How should I prepare for my first track day? It’s organized by a car club – I think they call it a HPDE event.”
Q: “Can you address the g-load differences between cornering and braking. Should tires be able to achieve equal lateral and longitudinal loading?”