[Fundamentals] RRW #3: Entry and Balanced Corners
The third in a series of articles originally published in RoadRacing World magazine.
Of the five articles I wrote for this RRW series, this one probably made the biggest impact at the time. Very few coaches talked about corner entry and how, depending on the type of corner, brakes served a key function in carrying speed to the slowest point. Distinguishing different corner types wasn’t even a thing back then! There was no established concept of breaking down the physics of a corner based on its length of entry and exit, let alone a framework for how to maximize control usage based on the acceleration and deceleration zones. In this article, I first explored the difference between Exit Corners, which maximize acceleration via the throttle, Entry Corners, which maximize deceleration via the brakes, and Balanced Corners, which have equal acceleration and deceleration zones and can be approached as either Entry or Exit Corners.
(Note: Of course, acceleration and trail braking were discussed at the time, but not in specific reference to corner types. Going back and reading this now is a trip down memory lane — I didn’t know what I didn’t know, but this is where it all started.)
Entry and Balanced Corners
By Ken Hill
Dang, this guy was fast. I finally worked my way to within three bike-lengths of him between Laguna Seca’s turns four and eleven, but even with my better exit out of eleven, his 1000 yanked my 750 by another three bike-lengths onto the straight. I flashed under the bridge and crested blind turn one, scanning for turn two while lining myself up to go in as straight as possible in an attempt to get back what I’d lost. He had a good line going in but suddenly came back to me at an alarming rate, going to his brakes way earlier, and harder, than I would have ever imagined, especially based on how he rode the previous lap. As I approached my turn-in point, I went sailing by him, nailed my entry apex and used my brakes to the slowest part of the corner, getting the bike pointed to drive off the second apex of turn two. That was a free pass, thank you.
Later in the pits, I talked to the rider and he said turn two at Laguna was his worst corner because, “his front end wasn’t set-up right”. He said he needed stiffer fork springs to brake, “like you do”. But he misunderstood the problem. He was approaching every corner in the same manner, with the same technique. What this rider needed was to understand that there are corners where the Entry lasts longer than the Exit, where the time decelerating is great than the time accelerating: Entry corners.
Turn two at Laguna is a 180-degree corner and a perfect example of an Entry turn. With 180-degree turns, they can be broken up into two different turns, an “A” and a “B”. The A will always have a great Entry because there is no Exit off of A, it simply sets you up for B, the exit portion of the turn. To take advantage of Entry turns, use your brakes to or past the apex. Entry turns are the place to maximize your entry speed. The rider I so easily passed going into turn two approached every turn as an Exit turn and that works well for the majority of corners at Laguna, but he leaves three turns on the table: two, seven and eight. I used my brakes lighter and longer, carrying more speed in, to take advantage of turn two’s Entry. I didn’t need stiffer fork springs for that.
Are the A portions of 180-degree turns the only Entry turns? No. With our example track of Laguna, turns seven and eight also have more of an Entry than Exit, so approach them as Entry turns.
Balanced corners…where the Entry and Exit have the same amount of deceleration and acceleration zones…can be approached as either an Entry turn or an Exit turn, depending on your situation. Want to set up a pass on the brakes? No problem-Entry turn. Want to pass on the drive out? Exit turn. Given the choice with a Balanced turn, approach it as an Exit turn, as it is safer and more repeatable.
Thanks for reading Ken Hill - Motorsports Coaching! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.