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A Lap of Mid Ohio in an Audi S8

By Don Young

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Generally speaking about driving the S8
The heavy Audi wants to be driven as smoothly as possible to be fast. Coming out of the Formula Continental helped with that, though the reason was to conserve momentum in the FC. Try to imagine a cup of water sitting on the floor and avoid tipping it over in braking and cornering. Brakes can be applied to the limit in a smooth but fast fashion. The same thing applies to releasing the brakes. When cornering, turn-in should be smooth and fluid, gradually increasing the rate of steering; then at the apex, begin unwinding the steering wheel in the same manner. The idea is to not suddenly over load the tires, which are doing plenty of work in the old friction circle.

Generally speaking, it seems to be especially important at Mid-Ohio to get right down to the apex for grip. There seems to be a great reduction in stick if you miss it by a foot. Also, though Mid-Ohio has less total elevation change than many tracks, the elevation (and camber) changes in the corners always need to be considered. To drive a fast lap, turns leading onto a straight of any length need to be apexed late enough in order to be on the gas fully from the apex. The S8 has gobs of power and it's easy to become reliant on the power to make up for not optimizing the turns. [Hmmm, I think Don's talking about me here, Ed.]

Finally, the interesting thing about the Audi is that the understeer tendency of the all wheel drive disappears when driven nearer the limit of adhesion through a turn. It becomes very realistic to steer with the throttle when driven fast.

Regarding the somewhat strange Mid-Ohio corner number system: You actually have two apexes in Turn 3, and one in the Keyhole; but the Keyhole is called Turns 4 and 5. Turns 10a and 10b are two distinct corners. Go figure.

Don Young in his Forumla Continental

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Track Map

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Taming the Track

Turn 1

Turn 1 Entry

Turn 1 Exit

It's best to left foot brake for Turn 1. Brake late and hard. The turn in point needs to be precise for a fast lap at Mid Ohio. Turn in too late and you fight to get to the apex, if you do at all. Too early, and you will need to exit slower in order to avoid running over the exit curb. The proper turn in point is just about at the '1' marker. Do it all right, and you'll be fast thru the turn and carry the speed all the way to Turn 3.

If you do turn in too early, you can lift to stay on the track thru the exit, but the car gets very loose. Trust me on this -- once the car is sideways, you'll need to get back on full throttle to at least go thru the corner sideways ... rather than backwards.

DON'T run over the exit curb. If you instinctively try to get back on the track immediately, the front tires will get good traction first with the wheels pointed left, and you'll loop you into the inside wall. If you do find yourself on the exit curbs, keep the wheel straight and slow down before you try to get back on the track.

Immediately after the exit, ease over to the far left side of the track to set up for Turn 2.

Turn 2

Turn 2

Be smooth and confident. Turn 2 is taken flat out in 4th gear.

Turn 3

Turn 3

Brake for an instant for Turn 3 as soon as you straighten the car after exiting Turn 2. This is another good place to left foot brake because things happen fast here, and you don't have time to search for a brake pedal. Downshift from 4th to 3rd gear and do not over brake; you can carry a lot of speed thru this corner. You'll apex this turn twice -- about 2-3 feet off the 1st apex, and about 1 foot off the 2nd apex.

The S8 really handles this turn nicely when driven at the limit. You'll find yourself steering with the throttle, especially near the completion of the turn.

BTW, if you're not tight in on the apex of Turn 2, bad things will happen in Turn 3. Another "trust me on this" - You'll find that you aren't wide enough at the entry and will lift to make the tighter corner. When the rear end breaks loose, you'll be back at full throttle with full opposite lock for about 30 yards. Not the fastest way thru the turn, but at least the rally driving style probably looks impressive.

Turn 4 and 5 "The Keyhole"

Turn 5 Exit

This turn leads onto the longest straight and is the most important turn to get right for a fast lap. Since the entry is uphill, brake late, downshift to 2nd gear, make a somewhat wide entry, and be patient ... it's a long corner.

At the crest of the hill, as the car becomes light, lift the throttle enough to rotate the car to get a good exit for the straight. Remember you want to be set up to exit with the right foot on the floor by the time you reach the apex. It'll take some practice to get the timing and amount of throttle lift correct, but you want to get about 50% of the remaining rotation to the apex done with the throttle lift.

The most common error here is not getting enough rotation with the throttle lift or diving down to the apex too early. You'll have to crank in more steering input, going slower; and with the weight transfer to the rear under hard acceleration, the S8 will push badly ... not the best way to get onto the long back straight.

Turn 6

Turn 6

Really just a gentle right hand kink in the long back straight, but it's still important to properly apex the turn and drive through smoothly, maintaining momentum and setting up for Turn 7.

Turn 7

Turns 7 and 8

Don't over brake for Turn 7. You'll be at 130+ mph and want to "lengthen" the straight, so take a somewhat early apex to carry this speed as far as possible. Downshift from 4th to 2nd gear under braking, and take advantage of the wide exit. Track out to the left about 2/3rd's of the way across the track, and then move to the right as much as practical, but don't expect too much when trying to set up for Turn 8.

Don't use a late apex to get a fast exit or stay to the right in the exit to set up for Turn 8; both result in slower lap times.

Turn 8

Turns 8 and 9

S8 in Turn 8

Between two of the shortest straights, just make it through Turn 8 as best as you can. Since the speed thru this turn is limited by the elevation change at the crest of the hill just after the apex, almost any approach results in the same speed thru this turn.

The approach to Turn 8 is uphill and braking is late. The exit is down hill and the car will drift out more than you might think comfortable at first, especially with the nearby wall. Apex this corner tight on the curb; if you're one foot out at the apex, you'll track out four feet further because of the downhill exit. This is another exit curb you'll want to avoid. Immediately work your way to the left side of the track for Turn 9.

Turn 9

Turn 9

Pretty much a straightforward 2nd gear turn, but it is another important turn to get right. Make a late apex and be full on the gas by that point.

Turn 10A

Turn 10A

Move to the right from the exit of Turn 9 to set up for 10A, though you won't make it all the way over. There is no need to brake or lift for this turn as it is uphill, and you'll have gobs of grip, but be smooth.

Turn 10B

Turn 10B

Turn in for 10B is at the crest of the hill, so it is extremely important to make the transition from turning left to turning right as smooth as possible to avoid a throttle lift, which only makes the car loose.

Staying off the curb a couple of feet here is okay as you want to get the car straight for the Turn 11 braking, which you will be upon faster than you expect or wish.

Turn 11

Turn 11

S8 in Turn 11

Brake straight or you'll oversteer, and downshift from 3rd to 2nd gear. This gets a little scary because things have been happening pretty quickly since 10A, and there's not much time to get the car straight for braking. This is one of the important turns to get to the apex for grip, especially since this turn exits onto the 3rd longest straight.

A crest at the exit of Turn 11 will cause the front of the car to loose grip first, naturally, then the rear. It is very important NOT to change steering input to correct for the initial understeer and then the oversteer sensations you'll feel. If you do, when the rear gets it's grip back, you'll have the front wheels turned left sending you toward the wall and right onto the exit curb, which can loop you back to the inside. Stay to the left side of the track for entry to Turn 12.

Turn 12

Turn 12

Enter the easy Turn 12 from the far left of the track in order to make a wide and smooth turn; it's taken flat out in 4th. Move to the right hand side through the turn to set up for Turn 13.

Turn 13

Turn 13

Turn 13 Apex

Another good place to left foot brake briefly. Brake and downshift to 3rd gear when the car straightens while making the transition from the right hand Turn 12 to the entry into left hand Turn 13.

You can be over to the right at entry far enough in the Audi to feel the rumble strips. Turn in begins at the end of the rumble strips. Turn in smoothly and not too suddenly. Get all the way to the apex curb and then all the way to the exit curb. You'll need to use all of the track at exit if you're taking the turn fast enough. Stay at the right side at the exit for the entry to Turn 14.

Turn 13 Exit and Turn 14

Turn 14 the Carousel

Turn 14

Heavy braking begins in the uphill before the crest of the hill and is decreased after the crest. Downshift from 4th to 2nd gear. Use the lightness of the car under trail braking to help rotate the car. Similar to the Keyhole, you'll want to get about 50% of the rotation done under trail braking. When the car gets around to pointing at your apex, get back to full throttle.

Turn 14 Apex and Turn 15

Turn 15

Turn 15, Front Straight and Turn 1 in the Distance

This is an easy flat out left hand turn onto the front straight, but stay off the exit curb. Not one of the worst curbs, but it can get you.

Back to Turn 1

Email Don Young if you have any comments or questions!

Thanks to Frank Lin for the Pictures Provided

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