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 Right- or left-foot heel-and-toeing

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Timo Vermeersch
Racing Legend
Timo Vermeersch

Number of posts : 1345
Age : 54
Location : Brussels
Registration date : 2009-08-11

Right- or left-foot heel-and-toeing Empty
PostSubject: Right- or left-foot heel-and-toeing   Right- or left-foot heel-and-toeing Icon_minitimeSun 18 Jun 2023 - 18:47

Hi all,

I've been away too long again and am glad to be back. Be it not in black but rather in British racing green.

As I know that our good friend Frank likes some banter now and again, I thought of raising a question that has been haunting me for several days now.

Some friendly banter on our favorite subject -the driving of pixels around a computer screen- will certainly not be scolded at, but some more serious feed-back is as welcome.

So here is the thing.

I’m thinking of doing some historic seasons in GPL and of setting GPL-Shift up so that clutching is required to change gears. It would then be very helpful to acquire the legendary skill of heel-and-toeing. Something I am, on my better days, utter crap at; and far worse on any other day. It however seems that no race-sim rewards that other dark art, the one of trail braking, more than GPL. And operating the clutch and trail braking at the same time requires heel-and-toeing… I think. Or is there another miracle solution?

So one clear autumn morning, I set off for good old Watkins Glen with a 1959 Jaguar Mark II and started practicing that famed cure for all driving pains: the heel-and-toe.

I started slowly, braking early, trying to get some kind of routine imprinted in my head: brake with the ball of my right foot, clutch with the left foot, blip with the right heel, shift down, release the clutch, steer-in, etc. But even that initially resulted in Coventry nuts and bolts getting scattered all over the track, thick white smoke pouring out from under the bonnet and the team mechanics looking very sulky indeed at the prospect of replacing yet another engine.

On some occasions my right foot also got trapped between my brake- and accelerator-pedals, leaving me with the sincere conviction that those guys from VPP had actually mounted razor blades instead of pedals on my pedal-set.

However, even if own praise always has a reek to it, I must say that after about sixty laps around the Glen, gradually pushing the braking points backwards, I managed to get up to a certain rhythm.

So I decided to gently start pushing, trying to get closer to the limit, that fabled outside-of-the-envelope.

Which is when things took a turn for the worse.

Barbecued engines and scarred toes indeed seemed a pretty small evil compared to the Jaguar transforming into a missile-to-the-moon on the outskirts of The Loop, or rolling over the banks at Big Bend. Even “the 90” suddenly transformed from a gentle tap on the back waving me onto the last bit of a lap, into a sneaky ice-rink where the car slithered out of control and often into auto-destruction. A short movie capturing the worst of these ordeals, can be viewed HERE..

I will not annoy you with the lamentations of our Chief Laundry Officer at the look of the tonload of transpiration soaked t-shirts… Not to mention other unidentified items of underwear that had equally fallen victim to onslaughts of sudden agony.

I kind of expect what thou wilt say. That driving on the edge is what makes racing difficult and that it is thus common logic that heel-toeing gets more complex as one approaches that edge.

That, however, is not my question. As I struggled to get on terms with the traditional definition of the heel-and-toe technique, which consists of keeping the left foot on the clutch while using the right foot to brake and blip the accelerator, I kind of discovered something.

I can actually get around a track quite elegantly, even at what some would call a decent enough pace, by using another heel-and-toe technique, namely left foot heel-and-toeing. It comes down to keeping my right foot on the accelerator, keeping it slightly open to balance the car under braking and blipping when shifting back. I then use the ball of my left foot to operate the brakes and use the left side/heel of the left foot to clutch when required. That actually works quite well for me.

So hence my current dilemma: is it really a good idea to continue left-foot heel-and-toeing? Or should I rather continue practicing the good old right foot till I get that right?

I did some research on the net but only managed to find this thread on Reddit..

The bloke starting the thread clearly adopted my left foot approach to the whole heel-and-toe issue and was equally searching for some answers. It’s a rather long thread, which indicates lots of feed-back. But then, once past the usual “no that’s wrong because it has always been done with the right foot”-comments and those who simply seem to mix up (left foot) trail braking and heel-and-toeing, there actually remains precious little useful information.

One reason mentioned to explain why left heel-and-toeing is not adopted in real life racing, is that clutches in real race cars are too stiff to operate with the heel of the left foot while at the same time using the left foot for braking. In my rig, that is however not an issue and the thread seems to confirm that, with most pedal sets, that is indeed not an issue. A bit further it is also said that in real life, left foot clutching would increase the risk of transmission failure as the clutch would not be sufficiently depressed. Again, on my rig and sims, I’m able to restrict that to somewhat acceptable levels. At least to lower occurrences than when right-foot heel and toeing.

Anyway, a virtual transmission is way cheaper and easier to replace than a real life one. So the only thing that risks getting hurt is my virtual racing driver’s ego… which it is rather used to anyhow.

Someone who has, judging by his nickname, a taste for Italian desserts seems to indicate that he also left-foot brakes, but not necessarily while clutching, for certain corners. Someone called Jatko confirms that, in sims, he always uses his left foot to brake and clutch. Yet another commenter however states that there is no need at all for left foot heel-and-toeing.

So, all in all, I’m still very much in dubio as to whether I should continue crashing the Jag in a laborious quest to get to terms with right foot heel-and-toeing, or whether I can just get on with my left foot.

So what do you have to say? Very Happy :hello:

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