RSR Rendez-vous June 1999 Parade
One Lap of Tremblant!
Parade goers, here’s an insider’s guide to the twisty maze of challenging
turns that make up Le Circuit. Elsewhere in this issue you’ll read about its history. From a driver’s perspective, this track is the one of the most difficult ever built. To appreciate how tricky it is, you have to walk it. There are visible and invisible challenges in every section. From inside a car, you won’t even see the subtle rises and dips but the “seat of the pants” will tell you that your car feels off balance. Even the straights are cunningly bent. Once you figure out how to drive it, the experience is very rewarding.
My comments are based on Rennsport Region teaching methods and relate to a stock 993. Your mileage may vary. Le Circuit doesn’t favor front or rear engined cars. Both will have advantages at different spots. On the whole it balances out nicely. On thing you can take to the bank is that this track rewards smoothness more than most. Keep that uppermost in your mind.
Front Straight to Turn One:
Down the Front Straight bring the car back to the left, about 8 feet off
the left side after you pass Pit Out. You’ll see cones out there to force
you in this direction. Get your braking done by the end of Pit Out and
then constant throttle in 4th gear to the bottom of the hill and the
turn-in point for One. With good conditions, experienced newcomers should
slow to about 70 MPH here. If a beginner, use 60 MPH until you’ve
mastered the subtleties of this very challenging turn. If you overcooked
it, you can brake going down the hill but you must get it done by the end
of the Armco on the right side. Turn One refers to the entire up and
downhill section although technically the slight bend at the crest is Two.
I really meant it when I told you that even the straights were bent.
More on the Front Straight that isn’t:
Just after Pit Out the track rises then falls away with a subtle jog to
the right. The rise is almost invisible from inside the car, but it’s
enough to make it floaty. Then, it drops away. Since you approached the
turn from about 8 feet off the left the edge of the track you should be
going straight down the hill to the turn-in point. Leave a foot of safety
margin between your car and the left side of the track at the turn-in
cone. Don’t be surprised if the cone is on the track instead of beside it.
Putting a wheel off here is a bad idea.
You’ll see a broad darkish swath etched in exhaust fumes and oil up the
hill. As a rough guide, center your car in it and apply gentle
acceleration as you climb. Resist the urge to turn in early and hug the
right side up the hill. This takes some courage and turning in too early is
a common error. Doing so results in your car cresting the hill with the
wheels still turned (bad) and crabbing towards the berm on the downside of
the hill (worse). If you find yourself doing this, slow down! Climbing the
hill you want to aim the car to brush the curbing at the top. If you are
wide, slow down! Treat Turn One with caution, it does not forgive.
Attention 911 drivers. Do not attempt to keep up to a well driven front
engine Porsche in Turn One, they handle the curvy climb and exciting
descent far better than we do. Don’t worry though, because you’ll have the
advantage in the Esses where a 911 can put power down more effectively.
About halfway down the hill, lift off (there,s a black asphalt patch
running across the track here) and very gently apply brakes, think gentle
but longer application as opposed to a hard press. You’re setting up for
Diable (devil in French) a fast slightly downhill right-hander leading to
a very short straight. Leave a foot of safety margin on the left at the
bottom of the hill, putting wheels off here is quite unpleasant. At
turn-in you should have faded off the brakes and be at constant throttle.
Avoid coasting into Diable.
This aptly named bend is slightly downhill with a slightly late apex. You
should have your car very close to and parallel to the curbing on the right
at, and past the apex. Done properly, you’ll exit in a straight line headed
for the middle of the track. Miss it even by a little (it’s common to turn
in a fraction early here) and your car will be crabbing to the left…
which is very unnerving since you -urgently- want to apply a lot of brakes
before the Esses! Avoid this problem by not fully unwinding the second you
pass the apex cone. You want to exit Diable headed for the middle of the
track at the end of the straight, not the left hand verge. If you have a
moment, (not likely) think of a very wide Chaparral (with suction creating
fans) passing a Lola right here! How did those cars fit?
You’ll have very little time to prepare for serious braking and a
downshift to 3rd in the short straight before the Esses. The first of them
is a 90 degree right-hander with a very late apex. You enter in the middle
of the track. If you did Diable correctly you’ll be in the right place.
We’ll have a cone on the track and you should be to the right of it. If
not , brake a lot more, you are way off line. Avoid the natural tendency
to turn in too soon! Follow the slight banking on the track as a guide. You
should exit very close to and parallel to the curbing on your right.
Prepare early because the exit and the turn-in point for the left hander
are almost the same. Tap the brakes and turn in with authority, you have to
turn the wheel quite a lot to make this one. Do the Esses slowly until you
get the hang of it. Newcomers are usually not prepared for the turn-in
point of the left hander and end up late and wide. As you get better and go
faster remember that you’ll have to be prepared even sooner.
We used a late apex on the right-hander to set up for a quick exit from the
left-hander. Try and place your left front wheel in the little dip inside
the white line at the apex. The exit line will take you to nearly the end
of the turtles on the right hand side. If it’s raining, don’t drive on the
them. Also watch for a puddle that forms at the exit of the first turn and
again at the exit point of the second. If it rains hard, there is standing
water here. In my car I exit in 3rd gear feeling like I need a lower gear.
You can try a shift into second between the two corners of the Esses but
there’s no advantage (in my car at least).
Turn Six – Crosswinds where the deer and the antelope play
Keep right on the short straight leading to Turn Six, a very fast sweeper
to the left. Short shift to 4th before turn-in to avoid running out of
revs halfway through. There is nothing very difficult about Six, a
designer’s mistake I suppose. The apex is visible and you can squeeze on
power and your car will track out to the turtles on the right.
There is a roughly triangular tar patch on the surface between turn-in and
the apex. About the size of a football, you can put your right side
wheels more or less on this patch and know you’re on the line.
If it’s windy, a vigorous left to right crosswind blows here, which can
make you track out a lot faster than expected. Also, be wary of wildlife.
Our park-like setting is home to a wide variety of animals and it is not
unusual for deer to frolic in this area. Slow down if you see them, they
don’t look both ways before crossing the track. I lied about the antelope,
but we do have moose which weigh around 1000 pounds and the occasional
black bear. Corner marshals use white flags to indicate that they’ve
spotted animals near the track. This is part of the unique Tremblant
experience. Slow down if you see the “animal” flag. Historically, in the
contest between moose and cars, the moose have won.
Seven – the bumps are gone, the bumps are gone!
Bring the car back to the left side to prepare for turn Seven which is a
downhill right-hander with a hidden late apex. From within the car it won’t be
obvious that the track slopes downhill. This is an illusion and in a 911 you
need to be at constant throttle to keep the car in balance. Coasting towards
the apex is not a good idea, the rear end will feel skittish.
Seven is a 4th gear turn, brake early enough that you can fade off the
brakes and be back on the gas just before turn in. The apex is about 2/3
rds the way around the turn. Do not turn in early. If you go wide, slow
down by whatever means possible. The left side of the track is full of
marbles and, on the other side of the Armco barrier is a scenic 50 foot
ravine. Until a few weeks ago there were frost heaves on the braking line
and near the apex. They are fixed now, and I haven’t driven the track
since it was repaired. Be cautious though, the new surface is bound to
have different traction. I suspect that the new asphalt will be grippy. Be
wary applying power after the apex when you’ll transition back to the
Seven through Carrousel:
After the apex of Seven you can smoothly add power. Check your mirrors,
the DE passing zone is just around the slight bend ahead of you. Hug the
left side of the track keeping your left wheels on the white line. Let
the car track out slightly after the gentle bend (no name) leading to the
straight. Gradually bring it back to the left to prepare for Carrousel.
The braking area on the straight before Carrousel is bumpy, hold on to
your wheel and downshift to 3rd.
For DE the best line is a single very late apex. How late is it? It’s on
the far side of the turn! Turn in and stay about 10-12 feet off the right
side of the track, constant throttle. Think of just driving around a half
circle to the right of middle here. Resist the urge to turn in more.
Porsches seem to do this turn automatically if we leave them alone. Many
drivers lack patience and add a bit more lock about half way around,
this will make you turn in early for the late-late apex and you’ll have to
unwind to make it.
Behind the wheel, you’ll get the impression that the car has drifted out
and then back in. This is normal. Once you have the apex in sight you can
gently apply power as you track out. The exit is just past the flagging
station on your left. Note that cars with turbos must use this line to
avoid problems when the power comes on suddenly. There are at least three
known lines here and I’m giving you the safest one. Like all 180’s,
Carrousel rewards a “slow in fast out” technique.
The Hump and back straight:
As you exit Carrousel, you’ll be climbing the towards The Hump. Like One
this is another significant elevation change. Can-Am cars have gotten “big
air” over the top. I recall seeing a Lola about 50 feet above the track just
past the top. The take off was really spectacular, climbing like a jet
fighter. The landing was not as graceful. The driver walked away though.
As you climb let the car track out to the right.
Check mirrors, this is a passing zone. As you approach the top of the hill
you must bring the car back towards the left. This allows you to crest
the hill with your wheels pointed straight ahead. You don’t have to go to
the extreme left, anywhere in the middle is fine. What’s important is that
you cross the top of the hill with the car angling slightly to the left
with the wheels pointed absolutely straight ahead. Hang on to your lunch
here (avoid “poutine” before driving ), you’ll be very light at the
crest. I’ve seen well driven 993 TT’s with the front wheels off the ground
here. As you cross, be alert for crosswinds. The same ones than can
surprise you at Six are here too.
Back Straight to Ten:
The passing zone continues to about half – way down the back straight. At
the end is Ten, a 3rd gear right hander. I prefer to brake a little
earlier and more gently for ten so I can prepare early. There used to be
braking markers on the left side of the track but they vanished this
season. Be careful when judging your braking distance. If you can do a
really smooth heel and toe, drop into third gear. If not, you might
prefer to stay in fourth and down-shift to third in the short straight
after. Since Ten is at the end of a nearly half-mile straight, your
brakes will get a workout here. The Apex is visible and it pays to really
get close to it. Your car will track out a little but you shouldn’t go
more than half the width to the left. My car pushes a little so I turn in
a fraction early to compensate. At the exit we’ll have a cone on the track
itself. Don’t go over that far because you’ll have a hard time getting
lined up for the entry to the Gulch.
At the end of the short straight is The Gulch, another tricky piece of
work. About 2/3rds of the way down the straight, lift and brake gently,
then it’s back on the gas for Gulch. You have to stay very close to the
apex of this off-camber turn. Be careful because the turn in point
comes at you fast, sort of “tap the brakes and turn”. If you wait too late
you’ll end up on the slippery off-camber part. Be very wary. The Gulch is
aptly named and you don’t want to be ambushed. Do this one slowly until
you have the timing down pat. A 911 tends to “push” here and the turn in
is more like “turn in and turn in a little more”. The exit takes you to
nearly the end of the turtles on the right side going up the hill.
Uphill to The Bridge Turn:
Stay right to set up for Bridge Turn. A short uphill straight leads to
this late hidden apex turn to the left. Brake lightly up the hill. Don’t
take time to admire the scars on the bridgework and Armco. Do not turn in
early, there is a nasty ditch on the right hand side at the exit. Done
correctly it’s a third gear turn but you’ll feel as if you are waiting for
the revs to get into the meat of the power band. Just as well, because
if you apply too much power exiting you won’t be happy. If you approach
more slowly you can use second gear but dose the power smoothly or risk a
The Kink .. Special for 911 drivers:
Exiting Bridge Turn you should end up near the end of the rumble strip on
the right. As you apply power let the car track out naturally to the left
about ten feet. Then smoothly bring the car back to the right and try and
put your right wheels on the rumble strip at The Kink. This is a must for
911’s because it uses the natural camber of the track to our advantage. If
you stay in the middle your car will feel like it’s clawing for grip. Go
farther to the left and the camber is against you. Lots of sturdy trees
over there too. Yes, they have scars.
Kink to Namerow’s:
Leaving the Kink stay to the right of middle and set a slight diagonal
course to the left such that you arrive at the base of the hill on the left
hand side. You are going fast here and you’ll want to get your braking
done up the hill leading to Namerow’s.
Braking for Namerow’s with ABS:
Cars with ABS should brake earlier, the bumps will confuse your system and
braking effectiveness is reduced. Brake while going up the hill because if
you try and brake late, you’ll crest the hill with a very light car and no
way to slow down in time. This results in a close encounter with the tire
wall. Ask me how I know! I bet there is still some French Racing Blue
paint on a few of those old tires in this corner. I rolled here in my
Renault (hey – at least it had the motor in the back) about 30 years ago.
Serious braking is required because you are setting up for the slowest
corner on the circuit, Namerow’s.
When racing, the approach to Namerow’s is one of the favorite passing
spots with drivers trying to outbrake competitors by approaching fast on
the right (but wrong) side of the track. It will be a great spot to watch
the Club Race by the way. You might see three cars coming in side by side.
Definite wheel to wheel action!
Namerow’s is a slow (2nd or 3rd gear) hairpin. It turns sharply right
with a fair slope downward into an increasing radius exit. The turn in
point is just at the end of the turtles on the left side. Some people try
and squeeze out an extra foot of track by swerving left onto the turtles
at turn-in. I advise against it. Bill Buff called this “using the farbis”
and unlike the “Force”, don’t. If it’s raining don’t even think about it.
The apex is slightly early because it’s an increasing radius hairpin. You
have to turn your wheel a lot to make the apex which is inside the white
line. Don’t move your hands though. Most first-timers don’t turn in
enough. After the apex, if you’re on the line, you can gently apply
power as you slightly unwind. You will be tracking out to the left so
don’t unwind too much! This is a passing zone, check for traffic.
Done right, you’ll exit the turn on the far left of the track about 3/4’s
of the way down the turtles. If you are on-line you’ll see the exit
getting wider. If you don’t see this, back off. If you have turned in
late (and more sharply), don’t bother swerving to the left to make the
exit cone! If you turned in early get back on line before adding power.
The grass bordering the track has mediocre traction. In a 993 this turn
can be done in second gear. On the other hand, third works just as well
and avoids hitting the rev limiter near the exit. Namerow’s is a very
slow entry with a fast exit. Try to make a fast entry and you will regret
it. See reference to French Racing Blue above.
Pit In to Paddock Bend:
Exiting Namerow’s note the location of Pit In. There will be cones here
to identify it. Don’t turn here unless you are – going slowly – and, have
your fist out the window and,- wish to enter the pit area. Assuming you
are staying out, let the car track to the right a little and then bring it
back to the left for Paddock Bend. Stay close to the apex on the left.
Avoid the right side of the track if you can. Since the exit of Namerow’s
and the area down the front straight to Pit Out is a passing area you may
find yourself out there while passing. Use caution, there are plenty of
marbles out there, so pass carefully. Cars being passed should lift to
help with the process. Right after the apex of Paddock is a good place
to shift to 4th for the Front Straight. You’ve now completed one lap of
Tremblant. I hope these tips add to your enjoyment of our favorite track.
Regards and enjoy The Parade!
… Porsche … not just a car, a Parade!