This corner is high speed with a big compression at the apex. This is not a threshold braking corner, use the brakes to get the weight over the front tires, and slow the car accordingly. The idea is to get back to power before the apex. Rolling speed is very critical here and you have to learn to trust that the compression at the apex will give the car grip! Your APEX display will likely show red LED’s at the apex of 1, indicating there’s a lot of grip. It’s easy to brake too early here, so seeing lots of red LED’s is probably an indication that you can brake later. Work up to braking late here, start by braking in the same place but carrying less brake pressure.
Turn 3 is a tricky corner as the entry is initially blind. It is important to set up so that you can have the car straight under braking. The best way to do this is after you exit turn 1, move the car back mid track and begin
to turn left just before you crest the hill. A lot of people say to spot the light pole at the top of the hill, but personally I’m not a fan of that as it moves your eyes away from the way the road goes. The idea is just to have the car parallel to the entry curb to turn 3 before you begin to brake.
(Red arrow is pointing at the apex of turn 3)
The initial brake pressure is moderate to hard, probably a 6-7 out of 10, maybe more in a heavier car, or with street tires. Take as much apex curb as you are comfortable with to open the radius. This is a big curb, work up to using it. Each car will take it differently so be open to experimenting with it. Again, rolling speed is very important. You want to roll maximum speed over the curb, because you can’t accelerate until the car lands. One more time; wait until the car lands to add full throttle! What we’re looking for here are red LED’s during braking, and tracking- out into turn 4. If you see red LED’s under braking here, try braking lighter, go from a 7/10, to a 6/10 on the pedal. If you see red on track out, add 10% more throttle on the next lap! That’s the beauty of real-time feedback. Make sure to position your device so your peripherals get a clear view of the display while your eyes are down the track!
At the exit of Turn 3 you’ll need to upshift to 4th gear in most cars. Use turn 4 to set yourself up for the esses. In higher horsepower cars you’ll have to compromise the exit to set up for the esses.
The esses are intimidating at first, but a no brainer once you establish a rhythm! Turning in to the esses you’ll want to eye a small strip of entry curbing on the left where you’ll turn-in with slow hands. The road is falling away from you so initiate an early slow turn-in aiming to apex the exact middle of the curb on the right. Once you get to that curb let your hands free and turn back to the left. Very important to keep your eyes up here, as you will begin to climb uphill. Apex the middle of the curb, but keep turning left and get the back side of the end of that curb. This will help set up for turn 5. Build up speed here, as the esses can get really fast in high horsepower cars. Don’t feel too bad if a Miata or 944 catches you here 😉 You’ll see some red LED’s when you transition from left to right in the esses, what you want to do is minimize the amount of time those red LED’s appear, meaning your making efficient transitions.
This corner is tricky because you’ll have to downshift to third or fourth gear (in most cars) in a compressed braking zone. It is also easy to over-slow because the corner is all uphill. Your post session APEX data will be yellow, orange, or red if you’re using too much brake entering turn 5. It’s very easy to over-slow here, so make sure to check your APEX data after the session to improve in turn 5. Braking here is
usually pretty light, enough to get you down a gear and pin some weight over the nose for turn-in. You want to be careful to not overload the front of the car here with a stab of brake, as we’re looking for a nice compliant weight transfer. Entering turn 5 it’s very critical to be as straight as possible and parallel to the entry curb!
(Red arrow is pointing to the entry curb. You want the car to be parallel to this curb, and avoid using too much of it!)
Brake pressure is similar to turn 3, about a 6/10. Downshift while still straight trialing the brake as you turn in. As you can see in the picture there is a change in elevation change on the way to the apex, so it’s important to be nice and smooth as the car transitions, but also recognize that at the compression the car will gain grip. Get right to the apex curb, but don’t touch it. Squeeze on throttle at the apex and use all the exit curbing. You’ll likely shift up at the exit. If you see red lights on entry, you’re likely braking too hard. Easy as that!
Brake pressure is again moderate, not full threshold braking. Turn in fairly early because the road gains camber pretty quickly towards the apex and there is more grip. Building a belief system for this corner is important, as the quickest way to get through it is to carry in good speed, and let the grip at the apex carry the car. Using your APEX LED display to build confidence on turn-in is super helpful here. If there are red LED’s showing, you can comfortably roll a little more speed on turn-in! Remember, there’s a big camber gain at the apex, so like turn 1, trust that the car will gain grip as your approach the apex of the turn!
Turn 7 is a threshold braking corner, but notice I’m at about 30% braking as I add steering to turn towards the apex. Remember, string theory. I can’t be at 100% brake if I’m also turning!
Turn 7 is probably the most important corner on the track, as it leads to the longest straight! It’s a pretty short brake zone, and is also a threshold braking corner if you carried good speed through turn 6. Brake hard and be in 3rd gear before turn in (3rd in most cars, some may be 2nd). Turn in late and “square off” the corner. The idea is to be back to throttle just before the apex for a good exit. Use the exit curb if necessary, but leave some margin there in case you need it! There’s a nice big hole at the end of the exit curb, so be sure to avoid it! Try your best to minimize red lights under braking here. This is a good place to brake hard on your out-lap to build the simulation stored in the APEX device. By doing so you will build a robust simulation early in the session, and the LED feedback will be helpful more quickly.
Turn 10a & b:
10a is a “compromise corner” meaning that getting a strong exit from 10b is more important than carrying max speed into 10a.
You’ll have worked your way up to 5th gear down the back straight away in most cars. Pick a braking marker that works for you, this will vary greatly in different cars. Start with a conservative brake point and work your
way deeper into the corner. Braking a little too late here is fairly low risk as there is tons of run-off. This is another place where watching your APEX display can be super helpful. If you see that red LED’s are sustained during braking, you’re probably braking too early. Remember: The most aggressive time we ever use the brake pedal is our initial brake input!
Slowly trail the brake and turn in just before the end of the entry curb. Get all the 1st apex curb and be back to throttle just after. In some cars you should be flat from the apex of 10a through 10b, but for the majority of cars that’s not the case, so we will want to simply think about maximizing our exit speed, maybe compromising a little in between 10a&b to get to full throttle sooner, maximizing your exit.
Blind but easy flat in momentum cars. There’s a bump under the bridge, so be aware of that in high horsepower cars. Aim to drive right under the red square.
Turn 12 can be a daunting corner, but simple once you get comfortable. Gearing here is up to you, but most cars will be into 4th gear between turn 11&12. Ease the car over to the left side of the track. The turn-in point is when the road begins to flatten out, no earlier, no later. Eyes through the corner turning in nice and slowly. Once you’re comfortable 12 is easy flat in slow cars, but for heavier faster cars it’s not, so work up to carrying speed here. Shift to 5th gear comes about halfway down the front straight away. As you come down the hill, spot the apex(green arrow) and then move your field of vision down the front straight (red arrow) as it becomes visible. Look in down the straight where you want the car to go, and it will go there!
Summary: Fast, fun, and rewarding. Road Atlanta is one of the greatest tracks in North America and probably the world, definitely one of my favorites. Respect it, and push the limits where the risks are low (7, 10a/b) and you’ll have a great time. See you at the track!