You have the car, the time and the place, but are still anxious about it. It’s understandable. Becoming a ‘pro’ driver takes time and lots and lots of practice, so don’t beat yourself up if you’re not there yet. Remember, even the best of drivers started out as rookies, knowing little to nothing. That being said, we have a couple of pointers on how you can improve your driving instantly and significantly. We’ll be starting off with the easiest tips and go up in challenge as we fly through this list.
Know Your Car
Honda Civics are front-wheel driven, and understanding that can help you massively on a track day. The front wheels have to both power and steer the car, and it can all get a bit too much at times. Understand this and work around it best to your benefit. For starters, don’t mash the accelerator when you’re going through a slow to medium-speed corner. The force will overpower the front wheels casing them to slip rather than propel you forwards. It’s sometimes best to wait until you’re near the exit of the corner before you put your foot down. Drive the car around and get a feel for it. You’ll notice when it starts slipping and before you know it, everything will be second nature.
Push don’t pull
Hand placement on the wheel is essential when you’re doing track days. The cornering forces are greater than anything you’ve ever experienced just driving around normally, so you have to adapt and adjust your driving style slightly. With the hands at 3 and 9 o’clock, always aim to push with the outside hand rather than pull with the inside one. It gives you more feedback as well as one more anchoring point by which you can support yourself and stay in the seat.
Trail braking is a more advanced driving technique which is mostly used when riding a motorcycle. With front-wheel drive vehicles though, it can work miracles. Because you’re using the front wheels to thrust yourself forward, you want to get as much grip as possible when cornering. What is trail braking? Well, after you’ve done most of your initial braking on the straight, you’ll continue to gently squeeze the brake slightly as you’re turning into the corner. A lot of the car’s weight will be shifted forwards, leaning on the front tires and pushing them into the pavement.
Heel and Toe Downshifting
This is by far and away the hardest technique for beginners to master. You’re essentially going to be matching the engine speed to the transmission speed when you’re downshifting, eliminating that jerking motion which can sometimes cause the wheels to lock up. While braking with your right foot’s toe, you’re going to press the clutch in, downshift and simultaneously blip the throttle with your right heel. If done correctly, you’ll experience no sudden jolt and the downshift will be super smooth. As with everything, practice makes perfect.