Video: Fancy Footwork Onboard a Spec Miata at Laguna Seca

Greg Evans is no slouch. Spec Miata ace, EXR winner, occasional LeMons competitor, and instructor at Simraceway Performance Driving Center; we’ve found his technical insight enlightening on a number of occasions. This video is no different—educational and digestible—plus watching his flawless footwork inside a Sealed Spec Miata at Laguna Seca is a treat for any honest petrolhead.

Evans’ left foot hovers over the brakes and dabs them slightly at 0:05 to settle the brake pad so that, a few moments later when he brakes with his right foot, the brakes react instantly and give him no delay. For the heavy braking required into Turn Two, this amounts to a few tenths, an avoided lockup, and a little extra confidence. Incidentally, he uses his right foot to brake since some heel-toeing is in order for this corner.

The car is underpowered—gutless on Toyo RA-1 tires, really—and so it hooks up neatly through Turn Two/Andretti Hairpin with only a hint of opposite lock on the exit, which Evans’ executes with masterful precision. It’s a short squirt to Turn Three, which is slippery and does not require a gearchange—so Evans uses his left foot to prod the brake pedal.

Gentle two-footing is needed to keep the car balanced in the medium-speed Turn Three.

There’s an early turn in and that aforementioned prod—it’s more of a gentle rub—and everything is done smoothly to turn the car gently and keep the platform level through the sandy section. Once he’s rotated, his right foot is flat to the floor to help the car’s meager acceleration into Turn Four, during which he keeps his foot flat—torque no longer having an effect on attitude due to higher speeds—but the left foot trimming the understeer. He’s driving like a rally star!

Five is a textbook affair: brake, change down, steer in early, and get on the throttle as early as possible; countersteering if need be. He’s so sublimely smooth here, no jabs of opposite lock are necessary—unlike other Miata laps we’ve seen.

He brakes lightly on the rumble strip while entering Turn Six to upset the car and induce a slight drift; countersteering neatly into the apex so he’s flat to the floor before that corner’s reassuring dip which compresses the suspension. He’s two-footing while countersteering and riding the curbs, and yet it’s so effortless looking. Evans adds, “You have a very small margin of error to get the car as close as possible to the red hump at the apex, combined with the lack of vision on the approach and the consequences of an off track on the exit –Turn Six can make or break your lap, especially in a low-power car. In the Spec (Miata), you’ll actually lose RPM going up the hill to Turn Seven if you do it wrong in fourth gear! A proper run, and you might gain a hundred rpm or so.”

Sideways into Six—Colin McRae would be impressed.

With just 113 ponies on a good day, it takes a week to reach the Corkscrew. Once he’s there, the braking technique is marvelous to watch. He gets the lion’s share of the braking done with his right foot, downchanges, and seamlessly transfers the duty over to his left to keep a tight line through the Corkscrew. It’s not as challenging a corner as people make it out to be, but getting the footwork that tidy while dropping four stories is impressive!

Turn Nine—which is probably the wildest corner on the track, requires an early direction change complemented by a light lift off the throttle, but as always, a lack of power is lingering in the back of Evans’ mind. Therefore, he two-foots it gently to ensure he keeps his foot down and doesn’t miss a tenth of a second which could be spent helping the car accelerate—even downhill! It’s impossible not to chuckle then and there, though he had to be serious and keep his eyes on the upcoming bend.

The braking inputs are heavier for Turn Ten, but they’re roughly similar to what Evans’ masterfully executed in Nine. With less speed, some usable curbing, supportive camber, and a tighter bend, his steering inputs are sharper and his braking more pronounced. Yet, the idea is the same: get the car rotated with as little time spent off the gas.

Turn Eleven leads onto the straight, and, like Turn Six, he uses the curbs to unsettle the rears slightly and yaw the car into the apex; countersteering subtly and not letting the slide delay the throttle application. In fact, with the stellar grip the and absence of power, it might even help him get his right foot planted a hair sooner, which makes a big difference down the longest straight at this gorgeous track.

Evans sitting on his Sealed Spec Miata.

For more coaching and more information on Greg, check out www.gregoryevans.net/

 

About the author

Tommy Parry

Tommy Parry has been racing and writing about racing cars for the past seven years. As an automotive enthusiast from a young age, he worked jobs revolving around cars throughout high school, and tried his hand on the race track on his 20th birthday. After winning his first outdoor kart race, Tommy began working as an apprentice mechanic to amateur racers in the Bay Area to sharpen his mechanical understanding. He has worked as a track day instructor and automotive writer since 2012, and continues to race karts, formula cars, sedans, and rally cars in the San Francisco region.
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