Q&A with Ross Bentley
Q: “I once had an instructor in my car tell me that my tires were overinflated. How could he tell that? How can I get better at noticing that kind of thing?”
Q: “The question I have is about heat treating to break in new tires and improve tire longevity. I usually heat cycle a set of tires for 20 minutes on a single session, then take the tires off and let them sit for 24 hours. I then put them back on for the remainder of the 2-3 day event. I run a set of tires for about half a season, ~4 events. Is there a better way of getting the tires ready for a season, and is there a normal life of tires that would indicate a replacement point? Could I run tires for a full season without suffering hardening and loss of grip?”
Q: Which reference points are the most important when approaching & driving through race track corners?
Q: “I’m doing my yearly brush-up on the basics and realized that I’m thinking more about the start of throttle rather than the End-of-Braking. Pretty close in terms of where and when in the corner, but not quite! I also think about the point of full throttle to make sure I don’t get there too soon (or too late!). How do these three points rate in terms of importance? And if a driver gets one wrong, which one has the highest cost in terms of lap time? Which one can be compromised with the least penalty?”
Q: How can a driver out-brake another on the outside of a corner like Lewis Hamilton tried on Max Verstappen in the Brazilian Grand Prix?
Q: “Here’s my conundrum. As a theoretical proposition, how is it possible to make an outside pass (I’m thinking of Lewis’ attempt in Brazil when Max pushed him off track)? In this example, it is assumed that these are perfect drivers who are absolutely at the limit. If Car A is ahead of Car B and takes the correct line through the turn – it seems to me that it should be impossible for Car B to pass Car A. Since Car B will be, by definition, off line, his maximum speed must be less than Car A’s. Thus, he can’t pass Car A. Or is it that outside passes are an attempt to freak out Driver A, and provoke him into a mistake? Or make Car A slow down?”
Q: “Should I be using the ABS when braking hard for a corner, or apply just enough pressure to stay just before the ABS activates?”
“If I want to spend two hours a week on consciously improving my driving style and technique with sim racing – instead of just practicing for my next league race – what kind of drills or exercises would you recommend?”
Q: “Where should my right foot be relative to the throttle and brake?”
Q: “What are some ways I can increase my reaction time and hand speed? I’ve found that at times my reactions are a bit delayed. I usually find I’m not looking far enough ahead, as I’m focusing on a car or a turn that is taking my attention.”
Q: Do you agree or disagree with the advice of driving a stock Cayman S to help me learn?
Q: “Have you had an “out of body” experience while driving? And if so, have you been able to consistently repeat it while driving?”
Q: “Should I be pushing hard against the dead pedal with my leg? In an ideal world you would not have all this tension in your leg to better feel the car, but you also don’t want to be a wet noodle in there flopping all around either.”
Ask Ross: “What happens at the contact patch when steering is applied during the first few rotations of the tire? Is there a momentary increase in grip at the rubber-pavement interface? Does Alonso know something? Or am I chasing unicorns here?”
Q: How does endurance racing work?
Q: “How do I adjust my optimal turn-in and braking for an off-camber corner to minimize understeer?”
Q: “I’ve recently gotten a Porsche Cayman for the track, and I’m a bit disappointed that I’m not a lot faster than I was in my previous car. Sure, I’m faster on the straights, but that’s just horsepower, and not me. I don’t seem to going any faster through the corners, which I think I should be. Am I wrong? What am I missing?”
Q: Does the friction circle change with more speed? Do I have less grip at higher speeds than I do at lower speeds?
Q: Does the Friction Circle change with more speed? Do I have less grip at higher speeds than I do at lower speeds?
When looking at in-car video, how do I determine where the actual turn-in begins?
Q: Can and should I use the amount of wear on the upper sidewall of my tires to determine the best pressures?
Q: “My tires have a small, raised triangle on the sidewall, near the top of the tire where the tread starts. Local legend suggests optimum/maximum tire patch is gained when the sidewall deflection/rollover/rub line (chalking tires) just touches the tip of this triangle. Is this true/false, a quick-and-dirty gauge, or totally wrong? I’m not suggesting this method, if viable, is a replacement for temperature readings across the tire. However, I’m curious because as an HPDE-only type, I don’t have the equipment, crew, and track time to properly use the temperature gauge method. I noticed that my street tires – Michelin Pilot Super Sport 4S have a tiny Michelin Man in a similar spot as the triangle on the R888R’s. So, it’s gotta be there for a reason, right? The question is: For what purpose?”
Q: “I often hear instructors talk about the “school line” versus the “racing line.” What’s the difference, and which should I drive?”
Q: “I’ve never driven on a race track, but want to, and found your website full of great information. But since I’ve never been to what I understand is called a “track day,” how much will one cost me? Also, how should I prepare to do one?”