Driving a ‘racing line’ is a concept that drivers who hope to turn out fast lap times should become familiar with as quickly as possible. The racing line refers to the route that a person would need to follow in order to take a corner as fast as possible. Using all the available space on the track allows the car to move faster before hitting the limits of its grip. There are many factors to consider when determining the racing line on a specific track, but one of the most talked about is the apex.
The apex of a corner is the point at which you are closest to the inside of the track. Also known as the clipping point, you are able to reduce steering input and increase throttle after this point. It can be difficult to determine the apex of a corner as it varies depending on a number of variables, but these guidelines will show you how.
The Geometric Apex
The key to maximizing speed through a corner is to take a route that minimizes the tightness of the corner’s arc. Taking the straightest possible path frees up grip and allows you to maintain a higher speed. Also known as the classic racing line, this route puts the apex exactly halfway around a corner.
- The most efficient way around a corner
- Helps maintain momentum in low-powered vehicles
- Minimizes the chance for oversteer or understeer
- Helps slow down tire wear
- May not yield the lowest possible lap times in all situations
It may seem backwards, but depending on the track layout and situation, carrying the highest speed through a corner may not actually be the way to a lower lap time. If a corner exits onto a straightaway, it can be advantageous to clip the corner late. Straightening out the car earlier in the corner allows you to get back on the throttle earlier, thus exiting with a higher speed.
- Allows you to get on the power quicker, resulting in lower lap times for those with high-powered cars
- Helps get the most out of a straightaway section of track
- Allows you to brake later entering the corner
- Robs momentum from a car with low power
- Is harder on the tires
Hairpin turns typically make about a 180-degree arc, which poses a unique challenge for finding the appropriate apex. The apex for a modern racing line is about 75% of the way around the bend. This can be difficult as you can’t see it as you enter the bend. A good reference point to remember is that you should be roughly in the middle of the track halfway through the corner.
If your hunt for the lowest possible track times, correctly utilizing the apex of each corner is crucial. If you’re looking to improve your driving skills even further, or put your skills to the test, join us for a track day or one of our driver’s education classes! Call us today at (407) 804-0892 with any questions.