Rev matching is a technique that is used by all racing and performance drivers when they drive manual cars at high speeds. There are many benefits to using rev matching, however, it can be quite difficult to master.
The 5 steps to perfect rev matching are:
- Clutch use
- Throttle blipping
- Changing gear
Rev matching sounds like it can be a difficult skill to learn. However, it simply takes a lot of practice! There aren’t many steps involved in rev matching, so it is easy to remember what you need to do. Rev matching is the first step to learning how to heel and toe like a pro racing driver.
How A Gearbox Works
Let’s say that we have a manual gearbox with five gears. Each gear has an effective operating range of speeds. So, for example, first gear is used for 0 mph all the way through to 20 mph, second gear is 20 mph through to 40 mph etc. Each gear operates between 1000 rpm and 8000 rpm
As you accelerate, the engine rotates faster to the point where you need to change gears. Each gear has a range of optimum efficiency, which is known as the power band. The power band is where the fastest acceleration happens through your rev ranges.
Each gear has a different range in its powerband. For example, the power band in first gear might be 1500 rpm to 3000 rpm, then the second gear power band might be 2000 rpm to 3500 rpm and so on. This is why different gears are best used for certain corners, and all are different.
Racing drivers try to stay within this power band when on track in order to keep their car running at its optimum speed. When it comes to rev matching, they use this power band within the gear ratios to find the perfect point in which they can get the fastest acceleration in a gear.
Why Should You Use Rev Matching?
Rev matching is an effective way to downshift gears in a car. This is especially useful on a track, when you need optimum acceleration. Rev matching can also take some stress off of your clutch, as it will be doing less work in matching your engine speed to the wheels.
Moreover, when rev matching, there will be a much smoother weight transfer when cornering. If you simply change gear and let your foot off your clutch, the car can lurch forward unexpectedly, and that sudden forward movement whilst braking or cornering can completely upset the balance of the car and you will have a tough time controlling that.
Rev matching can also help your drivetrain to manage better. In some extreme cases, downshifting without rev matching can lead to your rear wheels locking up. This is because your clutch is working overtime trying to match up the speeds, and it is simply not designed to do that.
Finally, rev matching will also help to prevent engine braking. In some cases, engine braking can be useful, but most of the time it puts too much stress on the engine, clutch, drivetrain and gearbox. Rev matching can help to take that element away from downshifts and slowing down your car.
Rev matching is a technique which should become second nature if you want to drive a car quickly. It takes some practice to get right, but once you get the hang of it, it becomes somewhat of a habit, like learning how to drive a manual car.
How Does Rev Matching Work?
Rev matching is used in downshifts. When you are on track and going into a corner, you want to be in the gear that will give you the fastest acceleration out of the exit of the corner. This gear needs to be engaged before you reach the corner, as changing gears during a corner will upset the balance of the car.
Rev matching works by matching the engine speed (rpms) to the speed that the wheels will be turning when the clutch is released. This takes a step away from the work that the clutch needs to do.
You need to ‘blip’ the throttle in order to bring the revs up to match the engine speed to the gear you are selecting. Blipping the throttle is simply opening the throttle a little bit in order to bring the revs up higher. So, in terms of rev matching in a car, the driver would press down the throttle slightly and very quickly lift off again.
This means that the car will be much more stable and be within the optimum operating range in terms of rpms allowing for a fast and smooth acceleration out of the corner. Rev matching is a part of the heel and toe technique, which has been used by racing drivers for many years and was made famous by Ayrton Senna.
The 5 Steps To Perfect Rev Matching
Rev matching is mostly used to downshift for corners where you will need to accelerate out of them quickly. So, in our driver’s situation, they are accelerating down the long main straight in fifth gear. They are approaching their braking point and preparing to enter the corner.
2. Clutch Use
As you approach the corner, you need to brake until you have reached your cornering speed. During braking, your engine speed will drop. Our driver is braking for the corner and they will need to use second gear to get quick acceleration out of the corner. Their speed has now dropped to the point where changing to second is possible.
3. Throttle Blipping
While braking in a straight line, press the clutch in to disengage the engine from the wheels. Once you do this, the engine speed will drop quickly. Select second gear. Our driver has almost reached their turn in point, they have their foot pressed down on the clutch and they have changed to second gear.
4. Changing Gear
Before lifting your foot off the clutch, you need to bring your revs up to where second gear would be running at. You do this by ‘blipping’ the throttle in order to rev the engine. This will allow you to ‘catch’ your revs and immediately start accelerating, rather than waiting for your clutch to try and match the revs to the road speed. Our driver now blips their throttle to 2500 rpm in order to rev match into second gear. They still have the clutch depressed.
When the revs are at the required speed, release the clutch very smoothly and progressively, turn into the corner, and accelerate out of it. If this is executed correctly, the car will accelerate very smoothly and there will be no forward jolt or instability from the car when the clutch is released. Our driver smoothly lets the clutch out and throttles simultaneously in order to accelerate out of the corner at the fastest pace their car will allow.
It is important to practice these steps at low speeds first, especially if you are not able to heel and toe to use the brakes as well. Ideally, you can do some practice rounds while the car is off, or on a long straight road.
Rev matching can help you to downshift effectively and help to take stress off your engine, clutch and gearbox if it is executed correctly. It’s a very commonly used technique, and if you watch races with cars that have manual gearboxes, you will see it being used very often.
When practicing rev matching, it is important to remember that you don’t need to be 100% accurate on matching your revs at first. As with any skill, it takes some practice to master. With time, you will start to recognise when your engine speed matches your road speed.
Like when you first learnt how to use a clutch, the more you practice, the better you will become at it. Eventually it will become like second nature to you. But each car is different, and you will have to make small tweaks to find the right rev matching levels in each car.
I would also recommend researching the car that you are driving. Most cars have an owner’s manual, or some form of online information relating to their gear ratios. This can help to give you an idea as to what your revs need to be for each gear.
Rev matching is an important skill to learn if you want to be fast on a track and smooth on the open road. It does take a lot of practice, but this is the first step to learning how to heel and toe like Ayrton Senna!