[Fundamentals] RRW #2: It's All About The Exit
The second in a series of articles originally published in RoadRacing World magazine.
When I wrote this five-part series for RRW magazine in 2012-2013, I was deep in the stage of decoding our sport. Of course, the what was important, but I was quickly finding out that the when and how were just as, or even more, crucial to understanding what made a rider successful. At the time, I was also on track over 110 days a year, working with the Yamaha Champions school as well as coaching 1:1 at track days all over the West Coast. Those reps were absolutely key for allowing me to see what worked, what didn’t, and why the Order of the Sport was sorely needed. My communication and approach to explaining the fundamentals has changed significantly since then, but the emphasis of this article — how exits play a key role in all of motorsports — remains steadfast.
It’s All About the Exit
By Ken Hill
Let’s not complicate things. What’s the fastest way around any track? Simple, to hold the throttle wide open the whole time…yes, we have corners to deal with, but the idea is, acceleration is what matters in this sport and acceleration comes from Exits. I don’t know of a single racetrack anywhere, where deceleration is great than acceleration.
How many times do we see it, a rider goes blasting by you on the entry, misses his apex (you remember those, right?) and you easily go by them on the next straight. That rider has the sport backwards, trying to make up time in the area that lasted the least, where they were traveling the least feet per second. A good lap time comes from accelerating the longest, where you are traveling the most feet per second.
Exit turns, where the amount of time accelerating is greater than the amount of time decelerating, is what’s most prevalent at tracks. Having worked with many champion riders, listening and watching World Champions, they are working on one main thing, getting to wide-open throttle as soon as they can.
As an Instructor at the Freddie Spencer School, I watched Nicky Hayden from the side of the track, come off turn 7 on the Inside Road Course at LVMS. He was working on getting the bike pointed, so he could be at wide-open throttle sooner. When I asked him about it after his session, Nicky said, “I’m trying to accelerate as early as I can and when I go to drive off the corner, I want the bike pointed so well, I never have to give up any throttle to my exit apex. “
With Exit turns, the goal is to get the bike slowed and pointed, so you can start your acceleration process as you go past the inside apex. As you drive off the turn, you should be able to add throttle points, as you takeaway lean angle points, getting to your exit apex, just as the bike is straight up and down. If a track has 10 turns and 7 of those turns are Exit turns, just getting those 7 turns correct, will get you a pretty darn good lap time.
Why do we see all those cool pictures of Pro riders looking over trackmaps with their crew? I know with the Pro riders I coach, looking over a trackmap after nearly every session is critical for success. We may be talking about many things, but the first thing we talk about, is, are you taking advantage of every Exit corner? Why don’t you get out a trackmap of your local track and see where the Exit turns are? You’ll be surprised at how easy most of them are to spot and if you can get the bike slowed and pointed for them, the lap times will tumble.
How about another report card for your riding…When I’m on track, I’ll pick the Exit turns with the longest straights and get a tach out point, a place where I can look and see where my RPMS are on the Exit. I keep working on my Drive, trying to up my Exit RPM every lap, while also bringing my entry point in deeper. When my Exit RPM drops, I know I have pushed my entry too far and sacrificed my exit.
What about those other 3 turns? We’ll cover Entry turns and Balanced turns in another segment, as there is time to be made up there, but let’s make things simple and take advantage of what lasts longest first, Exits.
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