Q: “I recently started racing my Cayman S at Watkins Glen and I’m hooked! I bought your Virtual Track Walk and my dad gave me your book. You talk about upshifting into turn two at Watkins as you enter the Esses and when I have entered, I’m in third. My thought is I want higher RPMs for theelevation change, usually shifting into fourth after turn 3. Is my thinking wrong here? Do I want to be in fourth through the Esses?”
A: It’s going to depend on the car and its gearing. My point is that if you have to shift in the middle of one of the corners through the Esses, it can turn into a handful to shift and steer with a car at the limit. Sometimes you’re better off to shift a bit early before turning into Turn 2 to avoid having to shift in the middle of a corner. Again, it’s dependent on the car – if it’s easy to shift in the middle of a corner without lifting off the throttle, then do that; if you have the car on the limit going through the Esses, then shifting in the middle of a corner may cause the car to be a challenge to keep straight!
Yes, ideally you want to upshift at the optimum RPM for acceleration. But sometimes you’re better off to short-shift to avoid having to lift in the middle of a corner if you’re stretching the upshift to maximum RPM.
Also, as you’ve discovered, the Esses at the Glen have what are almost like steps. The steepness changes as you go up the hill, with short sections that are not as steep. In some cars, it’s beneficial to upshift on these “plateaus,” even if it means short-shifting slightly as you’ll lose less speed when you go through the process of shifting.
Yes, it depends! On your car’s gearing, when you need to upshift, and how comfortable you are when shifting and cornering.