Trail Braking in sim racing
Going fast on the (virtual) racetrack is not just about pushing the gas pedal down as hard as possible or accelerating out of a corner as fast as possible. No, most of the time gained is with braking. Indeed, with braking! And I don't mean braking as late as possible - with the result that you miss your braking point or block a wheel - but by braking early and taking the right balance into account during corner entry and exit.
The braking technique you can use to do this is called 'trail braking'. What this technique entails, how to do it and why it is faster you can all read in this article. We cover the following topics here:
Sim racing braking tips:
- What is trail braking?
- Knowing when and how to brake
- How to vomit trail?
- Why is trail braking faster?
- When should your trail vomit?
- Trail braking supplies
What is trail braking?
Trail braking is a braking technique for racing and motorcycling in which the brakes are applied past the entrance to a turn (turning in) and then gradually released (slowing down). In other words, it is a combination of braking and steering at the same time.
This technique is also widely used in sim racing. This braking technique allows you as a driver to brake a little later. You "manipulate" the mass of the car to make turning into the corner easier. So you don't brake in a straight line, but gradually release the brakes as you turn into the corner. This provides perfect balance and more grip when entering and exiting a corner.
Knowing when and how to brake
Knowing how to brake or where to brake in the corner can make or break your lap times. This is an essential part of sim racing. Trackwalks (youtube is full of them!) can help you determine your ideal braking point and "read" corners. This will undoubtedly give you an advantage when you first hit the track.
Most drivers will agree that almost all of their lap times become inefficient due to braking hard and (too) late, causing you to lose control of the car and it starts to slide. With dire consequences.
The initial brake pressure is high (maximum, depending on the type of turn), but as you approach the apex, you lift the brakes (reducing the pressure) which allows you to help the car (turn in). Then, at the apex of the corner, you get back on the gas at the right time. In doing so, you maintain maximum grip and corner exit.
How to vomit trail?
Trail braking is a fairly easy technique to learn, but a difficult braking technique to apply consistently. It requires a lot of patience to practice properly. It also requires a lot of feel to make sure you get the most out of all four tires when entering the corner. If you apply this braking technique properly, you will see it immediately reflected in your lap times. Practice, practice and more practice!
Trail braking in 5 steps:
- Brake in a straight line with maximum force on the brake pedal
- Begin to release the brakes gradually slightly before the turning point
- Begin to turn in
- Reduce brake pressure as soon as the steering angle increases
- Use proper brake dose and force to steer the car properly balanced through the curve combination
Trail braking supplies
Applying this braking technique is easy. All you need for this is a good set of pedals. Preferably load-cell pedals, such as the new and revolutionary Fanatec CSL Load-Cell pedals. Are your pedals in need of replacement? Check out the wide range of pedals from Fanatec. Should you sim racing hardware are not yet (semi) professional, then a load cell upgrade of your existing entry-level pedals can help. The AXC True Brake mod for you Logitech G29 is highly recommended for this purpose.
Trail braking is an advanced braking technique that is difficult to master. Perfecting the technique takes quite a bit of time, but once you have the feel and experience to do it right, it shows right away in your lap times. Most sim racers agree that a good pedal set makes you faster. Therefore, choose a semi-professional pedal set from Fanatec Or a high-end and professional pedal set from Heusinkveld.