One of the most important techniques you can use as a driver is trail braking. The basic process is to brake hard and aggressively in a straight line, and then ease off the brakes slowly and progressively as you turn into the corner. This will maintain weight on the front end as you turn in which allows you to brake later and get more rotation out of the car than you would from just straight line braking. To be proficient at trail braking you need to be good at threshold braking and braking in corners. You also need to keep your eyes up to look through the turn to the exit of the corner.
One thing people get caught up in is when to shift. In a rally scenario, you don't necessarily have to shift before the corner. Enter the corner fast, trail brake and then when the car is pointing in the right direction, downshift and accelerate out of the corner. On pavement, you might have better success using heel and toe shifting while you are trail braking and downshift before the corner.
One of the main reasons trail braking is so important is that it’s a universal skill. It doesn’t matter whether you are driving a front wheel drive car, a rear wheel drive car, an all wheel drive car, driving on gravel, snow or pavement, trail braking is going to be your go to maneuver.
Another benefit of trail braking is that you can combine it with other skills. You can trail brake and heel and toe shift, you can trail brake and left foot brake, you can trail brake and threshold brake. If you want to learn more about trail braking, come on out to the Team O’Neil Rally School where you will use this technique for days on end and become a trail braking expert! If you want to learn more important driving skills, check out our Youtube channel!