It's All About the Exits - Ken Hill
The Ken Hill Clinics
By Ken Hill
Let’s not complicate things. What’s the fastest way around any track? Simple, hold the throttle wide open the whole time. Yes, corners complicate this plan, but my point is this: acceleration is what matters in this sport and acceleration comes from Exits. I don’t know of a single racetrack in the world, where time spent decelerating is greater than time spent accelerating.
How many times has a rider blasted past you on the entry, missed his apex (you remember those from last column, 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, are 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 drive 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 take away 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 subject is, Are you taking advantage of every Exit corner? Why don’t you study a map 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, an exact spot where I can look and see where my RPMS are on the Exit. I keep working on my Drive, trying to increase 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; there is time to be gained there, but let’s make things simple and take advantage of what lasts longest first: Exits.