One of the most common mistakes you see among new riders to the track is a tendency to begin steering for a corner too early.
You see it a lot in newcomers to the track and as a result they are often left feeling tight on the exit and unable to get on the gas as early as they would like.
The issue gets worse for them as they get more comfortable with taking speed into the corner. They start to take more speed in because their shallow entry line makes them feel safe, but the extra speed just means they’re sent even wider on the exit and left waiting for a long time to get back to the throttle.
This is the main reason why I advocate that riders at least try a late entry, late apex approach, because it shows just how much it can benefit you in the most important part of a lot of corners. The exit.
But is it possible to start turning too late?
The later and later you turn and the more and more you begin to square off the corner, the more aggressive you’re going to be able to be at the exit because of the line it has afforded you.
But it would be silly to turn so late and take the above sort of line because 1) You’re going to have to scrub off more speed than necessary to get back to your extremely late apex, and 2) by traveling so wide in the turn for so long you’re covering more distance than is necessary in the middle of the corner.
Ultimately, this means lost time.
I still remember the eye opening experience when I first discovered how turning in later and quicker into corners benefited my exit.
I was instantly able to be more aggressive on the power and it gave me an advantage over a lot of people out there who still instinctively turned in too early, simply because they didn’t know any different.
As part of the turning in later routine, quick steering became a part of my riding arsenal and I began squaring off every corner that would allow it.
However, it wasn’t until I got myself up into the faster groups that I realised this wasn’t always the best way.
Or rather, the extent I was going to to do it wasn’t the best way.
The initial benefit I experienced was that I was getting better drive than those around me, allowing me to pass them on the straights and into the next bend.
But in the faster groups with riders able to carry more speed into corners with shallower entry lines, it became apparent that I wasn’t making the ground back up where I should be with the late apex approach (the exit) because I had lost too much ground in the middle of the corner due to my later turn point.
As I was hit by the benefits of a later turn in and better exit, you may be too, leading you to apply the ‘squaring off’ technique wherever you can.
However, at some point the benefits of turning later (less lean for less time, better exit line etc) stop being an advantage in terms of the time you spend through a corner and out onto the proceeding straight.
As I found a few times in the past, if you try and be too clever and take and entry line that’s too wide in order to get a good drag on the rider in front, you may just blow your chances of getting by because you wasted too much time in the middle of the corner.
It’s not something that you are going to get perfect straight away – your turn point and turn rate, that is.
For that reason I would always recommend that you work on your quick and late steering efforts first to fully experience the benefits over turning in too early.
But in time and with experience you may begin to see that you can actually go too far with it and you’ll find areas where such deep turning is of less benefit from a time point of view.
It’s something you’ll discover as you continue to work at a given track. Whether it be from an experimental line that brings (or loses) you a little time, or simply from seeing a rider in front pulling a lot of ground on you in the middle of the corner.
As always, practice makes perfect and the fine tuning of your approach will almost be never ending.
Continue to be open and receptive to different approaches, while always bring it back into the context of your own riding.
Going ‘by the book’ will get you close to where you want to be, but a little tweaking to your own approach is always inevitable.
Photo by Chris
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