September 17, 2020

Rally driving demands a wide variety of driving techniques and disciplines. One of the most important is braking. There are many different braking techniques that a rally driver can use to best suit different situations.

To get the car rotating at low speeds, you would use the handbrake. If you are coming into the corner too fast, letting off the gas and braking before the corner will get the car turned in. In this instance you would use a technique known as trail braking when you get on the brakes hard and then slowly ease off as you turn in.

Braking in the turn with the throttle on is used when you don't need to slow down for the corner but want the car to rotate. Because most of this is done with left-foot braking, managing shifting and braking can be tricky which is why it is best to focus on getting the car turned in and then shifting gears.

If you are trying to execute a hand-brake turn, however, it is best to complete your shift before the turn. One of the advantages of left-foot braking is that you can keep the gas on while using the brakes, which is helpful in controlling wheel spin, wheel lock up, and loading and unloading the suspension.

All of these techniques are useful when in specific corners. Different speeds, surfaces, cambers, and visibility all play into a rally driver’s decision-making process. Because of this, rally drivers must be very good at reading the terrain on the fly. For example, lighter colored gravel is more packed and darker colored gravel is looser. Being able to keep the car on a more packed surface will help maintain grip and influence how to get the car to rotate. If you want to learn more of these skills, come out to Team O’Neil for our Rally School!