Heel-Toe Downshift [Part.3]

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For racing, the time spent transitioning from braking to accelerating must be absolutely minimized. You’re racing! You don’t want to be wasting a bunch of time coasting while you’re switching between pedals (even if it is only 1/2 of a second). To maximize the speed and smoothness through a corner, it becomes necessary to do some pit acrobatics and operate the steering wheel, shifter, clutch, brake, and accelerator all at the same time.

On the race track, as you approach a corner, your right foot comes off the gas pedal and presses the brake with the ball of the foot. Before the braking is done, you need to shift gears so when the braking is done you can immediately be back on the gas. When the braking is almost done, your left foot pushes the clutch pedal in, and your right hand downshifts. However, while you’ve been slowing down, the engine speed has dropped. If you let the clutch out now, the car will jerk severely as the engine works like a huge brake. If you’re at the edge of traction limits (which you should be), you’ll lose control of the car.

To prevent this, something needs to rev the engine back up to the right speed before the clutch is released. The right foot is closest, so it is elected to tap the gas pedal. Even though the right foot is busy braking, you swing your right heel over the gas pedal and give it a short push (a “blip” as it is called) to rev the engine while the left foot also lets out the clutch (the ball of the right foot is still on the brake). The amount of blip, and the clutch release timing need to be perfected so there is a perfectly smooth transition when the clutch engages the engine. Meanwhile, the heel is rotated back off the throttle or “tekan minyak”, the ball of the right foot has still been braking, and has been easing off as the car approaches the turn-in point.

The downshift should be completed before the braking is complete, and before the turn-in. As the engine and transmission are engaged, the braking reduced, and the turn-in begun as the foot makes a smooth transition back to the gas pedal. At first only enough gas is applied to sustain the initial corner speed, and then you gradually accelerate out of the corner.

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