Heel-Toe Downshift [Part.4]

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The above description is the “what” and the “why” all mixed together, so let’s look at the just the steps involved in the “what” part again:

• Lift the right foot from the gas pedal and press the brake pedal

• Just before the braking is done, the left foot depresses the clutch pedal

• The right hand downshifts (the left is still on the steering wheel)

• The right foot is still applying, but easing up on the brake pressure, then rotates so the heel is above the corner of the gas pedal

• The right heel gives a quick push of the gas pedal to rev the engine quickly (the ball of the foot is still on the brake easing up even more)

• The left foot releases the clutch, the right foot rotate off the gas

• The right foot completes the braking

• The right foot slides over to the gas pedal to assume the normal position only to maintain some pressure to sustain the vehicle speed through the first part of the corner. Then accelerating out of the turn/apex.

The whole sequence above from the second bullet to the last takes less about half a second. This takes quite a bit of practice to get right. The whole idea is to transition between braking and accelerating with absolutely no delay, and with perfect smoothness. Done correctly, there should be no jerking of the car during the downshift and transition back to acceleration. One other note about the above description.

We have assumed the use of a street car, and a street transmission with synchros. If you’re using a true race transmission without synchros, then you need to modify the above shifting with a double-clutch procedure.

To do this, the clutch is pressed in, the shifter moved to neutral, and the clutch released. Then the accelerator is blipped, while the shifter is in neutral (again with the heel, while the ball of the foot continues to brake), the clutch pressed back in, the shifter placed in the lower gear, and the clutch released.

This is required for maximum longevity of the transmission. If you expect to get in a race car some day that is likely to have such a transmission, it’s a good idea to practice this shifting technique with your street car as well, even though it technically is not necessary. Last but not least, the right way to learning this technique is via a “practical” lesson. I’m more than happy to assist.


Safety first, last and Always.


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