Heel and Toe

December 18, 2012 - 2:19 am

“Heel and toe” Heel and toe downshiftingis a driving technique that can be used to reduce strain on the transmission when changing down gears. This skill is a roadcraft that helps synchronise the gears to road speed when changing down the gearbox and braking. It sounds complicated but in reality isn’t. Normally when you change down the gearbox when braking, you brake, dip the clutch, select a lower gear and bring the clutch back up. When the clutch is reengaged there is a ‘shunt’ that unsettles the car as the synchromesh in the gearbox matches the gearspeed to the speed the wheels are turning.

You can elminate this shunt by rotating the heel of your right foot when braking and press the accelerator with the clutch depressed. This will raise the revs slightly and the lower gear will slot straight into place. As the revs already match from pressing the accelerator, the gearchange is extremely smooth and you can get straight on the power again. This is useful on track when approaching a bend but is equally satisfying to use on the road.
Practice makes perfect this skill seems difficult at first but is easily picked up. Some car pedals are positioned so that heel and toe is very difficult as the brake is much higher or lower than the accelerator pedal, and different throttle pedals has varying levels of resistance requiring you to press harder in one car than another.  The GTi-6 pedals are perfectly placed to allow heel and toe braking to be used to it’s full effect. When mastered, this technique is a great addition to any driver’s skillset whether on the road, or the track.