What is the turning apex, and how is it important for everyday driving
What is an apex, and why this knowledge can be useful to every driver in everyday car life?
The mythical apex is what every rider in every turn must get into, according to each commentator, and where the car should bring him to, according to every car journalist. One cannot miss him, one cannot be mistaken with him, and it is not so easy to find him..
What is apex?
From a purely geometric point of view, the apex is the pivot point, that is, the point where the wheels on the side the car is turning will touch the inner curb or dividing line of the road. If you imagine a turn in the form of a hill, it will be a geometric peak, which is why the apex is called the turn peak. It can also be described as the point at which the car moves most slowly, finishes turning and begins to straighten the path, and at which the entrance to the turn conditionally passes into the exit from it.
However, the geometric apex is not the only important point in the turn: from the point of view of racing, it does not always lie on the best trajectory of the turn. There, besides him, two more apexes rule: early and late.
What is early and late apex?
The early apex is a point lying on the inner side of the road or the dividing strip of the road to the geometric apex – in this case, it turns out that the car slightly “cuts off” the path relative to the path that includes the geometric apex, and then leaves the turn wider than it. Late apex is the opposite situation when a car enters a bend wider than a path containing a geometric apex, touching the inside of the bend after it, and leaves the bend along a narrower arc.
Speaking about all three types of apex, it is worthwhile to understand that for each particular turn the ideal apex can differ from all three types, gravitating to one of them: after all, when passing a turn, there can be different tasks – for example, get through it as quickly as possible or cut it as fast as possible trajectory.
In terms of driving, the difference between early and late apex is important. When passing a turn along a trajectory with an early apex, the speed at the entrance to the turn will be higher and the path traveled will be shorter, but in order to keep within the turn and not fly out at the exit, you will have to slow down more actively and more actively turn the steering wheel after the apex, as well as exit the turn more slowly and over a wider path. In the case of the late apex, everything is exactly the opposite: at the entrance, the arc will be wider, and the speed before the apex will be lower, but at the exit, after the apex, it will be easier to fit into the turn and, using its entire width, exit it at a higher speed. Since it is precisely the fast and controlled exit from the turn that is important for the successful passage of the route, the late apex is considered more correct. The early apex is often considered a mistake, as it forces the steering wheel to turn in a corner, risking the stability of the car and losing speed. More correct and safer is the passage when, after the apex, the driver begins to straighten the path.
What does it mean to “miss the apex”?
To miss the apex usually means not to fall into the very optimal trajectory on which the desired apex for the task lies. For example, wanting to take a turn along a trajectory with a late apex, turn the steering wheel too early and thereby lose speed at the exit.
How this knowledge can be useful in everyday life?
The theory of cornering is one of the fundamental difficulties of car racing. But we will not delve into the theory with different combinations of road configurations after a turn and consider a conventional public road, where there is only one turn, it has a simple shape, and getting out of it is not complicated.
In such everyday driving, it is important and useful to understand what the “correct” late apex is. Like races, each turn here is still unique, and the way it is better passed depends on many factors, such as the type of road surface, type of car drive, season, road moisture, and more. However, the late apex principle works at permitted speeds almost universally.
The essence of safer cornering in everyday life is precisely the choice of a trajectory with a late apex: it is worth braking and choosing the optimal speed before the turn, enter it wider, pass it through the late apex and exit along a narrower and, therefore, safe trajectory without risk meet the turn and fly to the side of the road or oncoming lane. That is, under normal road conditions, the same principle works that we described as correct in the first paragraph: for safe cornering, you need to choose a path in which you do not need to brake and turn the steering wheel after the apex to fit into the turn – but vice versa it will be possible to slightly add gas and begin to straighten the front wheels.
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