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Tuesday, 12-Sep-2006 02:23
What is LFB?
Left Foot Braking

Left foot braking

Most initial attempts at left foot braking scare most drivers into never trying it again. Your left foot is used to fairly robust uncontrolled stabs up and down on the clutch. Braking needs a little more delicacy.

Learning process
At first try to use the left foot on the brake on medium-fast straight roads (with no traffic). You find you’ll brake a bit harshly (which is fine). But you’ll find you forget to release your foot off the brake, so the brake pressure continues and the car decelerates even more.
The first trick is to train your foot to lift off gently to release the braking pressure. Why you do this I don’t know, I’ve taught a few people to left foot brake and they do the same thing every time. I’d have thought with the left used to controlling the release of pressure of the clutch it would be good at this, but not so.
From there build up the initial pressure to train your foot to press down in a controlled manner, while still also controlling the lift off. Now try this into faster corners where no gear change is needed. Next we go off to a (empty) car park, try bringing the car to a total halt from low speed, you’ll now find this Keep on pressing reflex is more noticeable. When you normally (Right foot) brake a car to halt, unconsciously you release braking pressure as the car comes to a halt, to the point where just as the car stops you’ve release almost al the pressure. With this lack of subconscious control in your left foot the car stops abruptly usually by nose diving and smashing your face into the steering wheel… again repeated practice releasing the pressure with the left foot before stopping give the foot the control it needs for more complex manoeuvres. Now you should be able to vary the pressure on braking and lifting,

NOTE: Always try this away from other traffic, as sometimes you forget which pedal to push, with rear ending consequences…

To make use of the left foot braking you need also to control the throttle at the same time, again on a faster empty straight road slip the car into neutral left foot brake and blip the throttle repeatedly to get the feel. Once comfortable, try applying pressure to the throttle while left foot braking, to feel the effect. From here the world of left foot braking is literally at your feet.


Places Area to gain.

Non gear change corners:
Left foot brake in all the way to the apex and your right foot can immediately get back on the throttle. This cut the delay in getting on the power.

Slower corners:
Big gains in late are available as with your left foot already over the brake, you can go from power to braking immediately.

Medium speed corners:
With most road cars the improved handling response with a little drag on the brakes make corner entry faster and more accurate. Pressing lightly on the brake with or with out the power on improves the poise of the car.

Fast corners:
With softly sprung road cars in fast bends, going from braking to accelerating upsets the car, You can balance the car by using both the throttle and brake together. On the way in apply the brakes and keep the throttle down, release the throttle more and apply more brakes to slow and balance the car, never lift of the throttle completely, then accelerate at the apex keeping some brake on only releasing them completely when the car is balanced again.

Ultra fast corners:
A dab on the brakes keeps the engine pulling and is better than a lift off the throttle (particularly if your running carbs).

Gear change corners:
Left foot brake in all the way to the apex and blip right foot to change gear (only works in higher gears, 3rd to 2nd is more tricky) and get back on the throttle.

Unknown corners, corrections and emergencies
When in rally mode charging around unfamiliar corners a left poised over the brake can either allow for a dab on the brakes to improve turn in, shed speed or come to a big stop when things have gone badly wrong.
There’s no doubt that left foot braking is better in emergencies if the foot is already covering the brakes, a heavy tug on the gearlever puts you into neutral while the left foot is already braking

Up someone’s rear:
Keep the left foot covering the brake, in case of emergencies. When preparing to overtake press the throttle and balance the speed on the brake, when going to pull out release the brake and press the throttle all the way down

Someone’s up your rear:
Dab your left foot on the brake just enough to light up the brake lights, great fun, especially under heavy acceleration really confuses them
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The (1997 Sauber) C17 is a conventional car with the now normal paddle gearchange, and traditional (foot pedal) clutch control...
'I have been asking for two pedal control (with a paddle clutch) for a year and a half,' adds Herbert. 'I want to try it, just to see what it is like. You can't really left foot brake with the pedals as they are now, they are too close. If you listen to the cars going into Becketts, it sounds as if Michael Schumacher is taking it flat. In fact, he is left foot braking against full power. We have to lift there."

(Interview with Johnny Herbert (Sauber Driver) Race Tech Magazine #19")
The quote above is meant to point out that, in top level motorsports today, the capability of a driver to left foot brake is increasingly a necessary skill if he is to succeed. Certainly this has been the case for some years now in F1 and World Rally. And as more racecars become equipped with semi-automatic gearboxes (the all conquering Audis at Le Mans for example) drivers are finding that full time left foot braking can give them an edge over competitors constrained (by ability or equipment) to traditional right foot braking.

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Even in race series mandating standard sequential manual gearboxes, left foot braking is more prevalent than one might think. This is due to the fact that the "dog boxes" in such cars allow up and down shifting without the use of the clutch (up shifts aided by an electronic cutout). During the latter half of the 1990's drivers in the very popular BTCC series could be seen left foot braking from the in-car footage as they banged down through the gears. Even Winston Cup drivers can be seen left foot braking on road courses such as Infineon Raceway.
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Braking with the left foot offers two distinct advantages. First, it completely eliminates the awkward transition period experienced when switching from braking, back to on-throttle. This transition occurs at the end of a braking zone when a driver has to momentarily lift the right foot from the brake pedal in order to move it over to the throttle pedal - a "dead-zone" so to speak. A skilled driver is able to reduce the unsettling effect that this transition has on the car, but it is still always there to some degree.
Second, when braking with one's left foot it is actually possible to brake while still on the throttle - to play the two effects against each other for short periods of time. This technique is most clearly illustrated by the reference to Michael Schumacher above. On many tracks there are certain corners where generally all that is needed is a momentary "lift" off the throttle in order to make it through. But anyone with a little track driving experience is aware that lifting during a corner tends to produce an unsettling effect on a car which is already near the edge of adhesion.
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However, an alternative technique is to remain at the existing throttle setting at this phase, and simply apply a small feathering of the brake pedal to ease the car around the bend. This has quite the opposite effect of lifting and actually causes the car to "hunker down" a bit. It settles the car through this critical portion of the turn. An auto-x slalom is also a place where left foot braking against engine power can be used to advantage. Most proficient auto-crossers will be adept at left foot braking, and will use it most any time that they do not have to heel-toe downshift for a corner.

But left foot braking is not only advantageous on the track. Once the driver is completely comfortable with the technique it can be used to good effect on the street. It can lead to smoother transitions at stop signs and when going over speedbumps and driveway entrances. Not to mentioning having some fun trail braking into a corner to show that SUV behind you who is really "Master of the Road" ;-)

Ultimately left foot braking is a tool which can give a driver greater control over his/her car, and this is a good thing in any driving situation.
Warning - if you are not yet accustomed to left foot braking then it should only be practiced in a safe, closed environment, not on public roads or on a race track. The left foot is generally trained to modulate a clutch pedal. Learning to modulate a brake pedal with the left foot will take some time. Be safe.

One excellent place to practice left foot braking is at a karting track. All karts use a two-pedal setup and require that the left foot be used for braking

Ok, guys. All the best and keep up the good work.

Always remember, Safety First Last & Always.

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