At every race track we can find 2 or 3 corners that are more critical for lap time. At Sonoma turn 11 is without a doubt one of those. During our recent visit to Sonoma Raceway during the SCCA Run-Offs we saw a lot of drivers missing the fast line at different points of the corner. The Racing Line at Sonoma Raceway Turn 11
So, here we break down exactly what pro race car drivers are looking to do at every phase of the corner:
When it comes to generic coaching on a corner talking about brake zones is one of the most difficult things to do. They vary wildly on the type of car we are driving. So, for the purpose of this article, we are writing this for the types the vast majority of drivers are racing, touring style race cars.
Turn 11 is very difficult because drivers are staring head-on at a wall coming their way and it is quite flat which makes it visually difficult to pick out markers. Our favorite marker is actually a bump in the road. In the video above you will see that drop in the road is right about where the road gets wider to drivers left. I like to wait until the car compresses and settles after that bump to start the brake zone. For cars that can brake a lot deeper, we can get a get a feel for length of time after the bump. It is a useful market for all drivers.
Turn In (NO CRABBING) -
This is the section of the corner we actually saw the most mistakes from the race car drivers. If you aren’t familiar with the term crabbing let’s first discuss that.
What Is Crabbing? Crabbing is where as a driver starts to have their car drift towards the inside of the corner before the turn in point. What ends up happening is by the time the driver wants to start turning in the road they are in the middle of the road. This makes the corner much tighter than it would be if they kept the car all the way to the outside and turned in from there.
Okay, now that we have that out of the way we want to highlight making sure drivers do not do this in turn 11. We often see drivers start to crab as they are looking toward the apex, now that is great practice as their eyes are in the right place but we need to make sure our hands are straight.
Okay… Now I’m all the way left, where do I turn in?? Well, unfortunately, there are no great turn in markers for this corner. Our objective here is to apex the third tire strack and have a nice slow smooth turn in. This roughly works out to be the start of the tire stacks on our left hand side.
We want to apex the third tire stack. We also want a very slow trail brake all the way down there, we absolutely do not want any initial throttle before we get to that apex point. Notice the important point of the slow turn in. If you are getting onto the painted curb more than length before the tire stack you are in too early. You either were crabbing on entry, turned too early, or turned too fast.
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The next critical part about the apex is where our eyes are looking. In turn 11 we need to pick our eyes up and be looking for the exit before we arrive at the apex.
Our goal as a driver is to be looking for the exit as soon as we can and ask ourselves, “how early can I start to unwind the wheel?” We need to use absolutely all of the road on exit to maximize our exit speed onto the front straight away. Pick up initial throttle at the apex and let the car be free as possible.
If you are fighting understeer before entry make sure you are trail braking all the way down to the apex.
Fighting corner exit oversteer is quite normal on this corner. Some things to ask yourself if it is really bad are:
1) Am I using all the road on exit?
2) If it is a snap oversteer, it is likely you are picking up initial throttle too early. That understeer caused by the throttle makes a driver have more steering input and too much steering input while adding significant throttle can cause snap oversteer
Want to learn what trail braking is & how to trail brake? Here is another great free article from Racers360!
Another great free article that can help drivers in turn 11 is How To Control Oversteer