Extreme Driving: Left-Foot Braking

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Left Foot Braking
Left-foot braking is primarily used in front-wheel-drive cars and comes in handy during cornering at high speeds.

A severe problem affecting most front-drivers is understeer during fast cornering. Understeer generally means that during cornering at a high speed, the car has a tendency to keep moving straight and to the outer edge of the curving road rather than the direction in which you are pointing the car. To cancel out understeer, there should be more grip at the front wheels than at the rear. The left-foot braking technique more or less helps you to do just that.

When approaching a corner, you should start slowing down like you normally do, using your right foot to apply the brake. At this point, you can use the heel-and-toe maneuver and downshift to the proper gear. Now, you should move your right foot over to the accelerator and your left foot to the brake at the same time. You are now ready to perform left-foot braking. Continue slowing the car down to a reasonable – but not too low – speed by applying the brakes with your left foot. As you are about to turn into the corner, hit the gas with your right foot and keep braking with your left foot at the same time. Being a front-wheel-drive, the rear wheels will lock while the front wheels keep moving. The car’s weight is transferred to the front, causing the front wheels to have more grip than the rear wheels. The car now starts to oversteer.

Now you have to keep the car in control by steering in the direction that you want to go, and applying more or less throttle and braking as needed. You have to use both your pedals at the same time, which will take practice. Lifting off the accelerator will cause more oversteer and flip out the car’s rear even more. Applying more throttle while easing off the brakes will reduce oversteer and straighten out the car. Keep performing this balancing act to smoothly clear the corner at high speed, all the while making little corrections to your steering. At the end of the corner, just floor it and power out.

When you get good at this technique, you should be able to just keep the accelerator completely floored and keep the car moving in your preffered direction using just your brake pedal and steering wheel. Understeer is eliminated if done correctly and you clear the corner at a higher speed than in normal driving. The trick is to keep practicing braking with the left foot and learn to apply the brakes as well with the left foot as with the right.

With a typical race-car gearbox, you can even start your initial braking with your left foot instead of your right without having to use the clutch pedal. When braking, you can blip the throttle between the gear change. Most normal gearboxes cannot cope with such abuse and so it is generally better not to even think about trying such a move with your commuter car unless you have deep pockets to foot the resulting repair bill! Also keep in mind that many upmarket cars are equipped with computer-controlled stability systems that will help you to safely keep a car in control during high speed cornering. But with practice, you can control a car better with the stability system turned off and turn at an even higher speed.

Posted: January 2nd, 2014
at 4:51pm by The Sub-Editor

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Categories: Driving Tips

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