Q: “I race a Spec E30 so every ounce of momentum is extra vital. How do I determine the best trade-off between maintaining momentum, but at the same time braking enough so I can keep the throttle to the floor through the next set of corners? An example is turn 3 and 3A at Sonoma. In my car it is possible to lift (no brakes) just before turning into 3 and the car will make it through the corner, but will require going on and off the throttle through 3A. The alternative is a slight brake before turn in to 3 and floor the throttle all the way through 3A and down the short straight. I know option two is faster, but how do I determine how much I should brake? How do I determine the exact entry speed that will bleed off enough speed that I can barely keep the car on the track at the exit of 3A and still not lift off of the throttle going over the crest of 3A?”
A: First, I’m assuming that you know option two is faster because you’ve been able to compare data and/or segment times? Because what feels faster is not always faster, right?
I think you’re asking how to calibrate that exact speed and be able to consistently set it. If that’s what you’re asking, then it’s all about the speed sensing that I talk about in my books and webinars. Doing the Sensory Input sessions that I recommend will fine-tune your ability to sense the difference between speeds. The speed sensing exercise that I talked about where you practice on the street covering up your speedo will also help.
One thing I’ve done when coaching drivers is stand with a radar gun and point it at the key area (in this case, maybe apex speed of 3?) and immediately report the speed to the driver over the radio as he did lap after lap. With that immediate feedback, he was able to fine-tune that speed and be more consistent in less time. But it takes a designated test session, someone with a radar gun, and radios to do this.
It sounds like you’ve experimented with a couple of different approaches, and that’s great, as you need to do that. If you have data, then you can compare segments, as the full lap time can fool you into believing the wrong approach worked. And remember, you can also measure segment times when reviewing your in-car video, so check the options out that way, too.