There is much to be said for forming a race strategy. On the face of it, you would simply think, "Go as fast as I can and I'll have a chance to win!" Unfortunately, the vast majority of the time that strategy is taken, the driver will end up either in the garage before the race ends, or several positions down to where they could
Also unfortunate is the fact that this attitude is generally the reason behind most
Lap One incidents, and those incidents are usually the worst as they can pile up drivers extremely fast. Race after race, we see drivers attempting overly aggressive moves, trying to pass several cars at once, only to cause an accident that takes themselves and the other out with them. Control and caution are the name of the game on lap one; pass if the opportunity exists but be equally careful. See the Lap One wiki page for more tips!
Brake markers: You've been practicing all week long, and you've nailed the entry into Turn "X" perfectly, just slamm on the brakes right at the 100M marker on the side of the road. You've survived Lap One, you're headed full steam into Turn "X" again when you suddenly realize the 100M marker is GONE! CRAP! Sound familiar? Don't get caught out by surprise. This is really something you should do while practicing during the week, but better late than never. Pick out some alternate brake markers, PERMANENT brake markers; a tree, a sign, the guy in the stands picking his nose... anything that is not
succeptable to getting knocked down or punted off by some spinning driver. Personally, I try not to pick spots on the track itself. Although they make excellent markers for practice, or when you're racing alone, they make very poor ones when you're in a heated battle. If you're trying to pick up 'that spot' on the tarmac when your're only 10 feet from the car in front of you, then you're not looking where you should be. Again, pick out something BIG, something that you can easily pick up in your peripheral
vision so you can be looking ahead [through the corner] instead of for a marker. Experienced racers will tell you that one of the best things you can do to improve your driving is to learn to look ahead, look further down the road, trust that the car will go where you're looking. Easier said than done, but it's true and it works.
Okay, you've managed to avoid 'Lap One Carnage', the field is slowly starting to spread out a bit... now what? Well, lets first consider... how long is the race? Is it a Sprint Race? Is it a full length Feature Race? Have you planned on any Pit Stops? Okay, now let's consider them...
Sprint Race: Go, Baby, Go! They don't call it a Sprint Race for nothing!
Feature Race: Okay, it's a long Feature Race and you are running a TWF1 car. Although Pit Stop refueling is allowed, it is rare and usually not an advantage. Because of this, you will likely have a large fuel load in the car. Large fuel loads mean lots of extra weight, usually more than you've been practicing all week with. that also means that the car will not stop as quickly as it 'normally' will, and the tires will heat up more than they usually do. Keep these in mind. If you run the car like it's on empty, you're goin to overheat your tires , thus losing grip, and your laptimes could actually end up being SLOWER than if you eased off a hair and kept your tires within reasonable limits. Worse, you can find yourself sitting in the garage.
Pit Stop Strategy: Consider the two above and adjust your strategy based on them.
Mid-race is also an excellent time for sizing up your opponents. If you're following someone, don't necessarily be in such a hurry to pass. If they are turning in laptimes reasonably close to your own, take the time to probe; where am I faster than them? in the corners? under braking? exiting a corner? All of these things can help you determine not only when and where to pass, but how to do it safely AND make it stick. Another aspect to this, and one you may have heard before, is an opportunity to size up the driver ahead of you with regard to thier driving. Very typical of young [newbie] drivers is the fact that when they have someone following closely, they will out driver themselves. They can quickly become so concerned about who is in thier mirrors that they will not pay enough attention to thier own driving, and therefore are prone to mistakes. Patience can be your ally here; better to follow a driver in a close battle for several laps and finally make a pass that sticks, then to pounce at the first opportunity you see only to give it right back [or worse].
You've avoided Carnage, you've managed your equipment, even passed a few along the way [did you notice all of those overeager drivers sitting in the gravel traps along the way?]... now what? Call it the 'Dash-for-Cash', or it might just be a drive to hold position, this portion of the race is not as easy as it would appear.
Dash-for -Cash: You've done everything right, you've sized up your rival, you're ready now to pass for the win! Great stuff! This is the stuff of dreams, Baby! Stand on that podium, guzzle the champaigne, kiss the pretty girls [or boys], you're earned it.
But... what if you're not
the one doing the pouncing? Your tires are shot, only vaguely resembling what used to be called GoodYears
by this point; the car is tired and wheezing; your feeling a bit fatigued too [too many beers last night?], and some 'Hot-Shot' has been on your
rear wing for the last few laps, sizing you
up, now what are you going to do?
I'm not condoning blocking at all, but there are some very simple and effective ways to legally defend your position. First and foremost; think ahead. If you've been doing your own homework, like the driver behind you, you should have an idea of both your strengths and weaknesses. Can I out brake this guy? If yes, consider taking him into corners using the fastest racing line. If you're consistantly outbraking him, not only will he be braking earlier than you, but would be in a less than optimal line if he tries it. Use your strengths. Okay, so this guy is outbraking you, especially in corner "Z". Let's get ready for the next lap; exiting corner "Y", the corner before "Z", you can already expect him to make a move to the inside
so he can out brake you in the corner, so.. get a good exit in "Y" then move yourself over to take "Z" away, not when you get to "Z" but BEFORE you get there. Completely legal, you are merely taking a different line than you have been. It doesn't have to be a drastic move either, in fact the more subtle the better. By the time you reach corner "Z", your opponent who was just thinking "Aha, now I've got 'em!" is going to realize that they are not in the position they thought they'd be, and that to pull off the pass they are going to have to do it on the OUTSIDE. Who's smiling now? If they can still out brake you and make that pass, they deserve the position and you should be the first to applaud them.
Use your strengths, and anticipate for your weaknesses.
Driver Concentration - Space Cadet Syndrome
Okay, so you're not in an adrenaline packed race for the finish line. You passed a few drivers along the way and you're looking at finishing up in the points, but you haven't seen another soul for the last 15 laps...
I don't care what anyone says, keeping focused while driving alone is harder to do than when you're in a heated battle. In a battle, your concentration is almost automatic. You are workin it! When you're out by yourself, however, you can get...bored. How many more laps? Geez, I could go for a beer? What time does 'the game' come on the TV tonight? BLAMMO! It's that easy; you've just missed your brake marker by 15 meters and you're skidding across the gravel trap. DOH!
Staying focused is hard work. Period. And it takes practice. Some personal tips I use to help me:
Form a routine: If I'm not contesting a position, every lap at point "A" I'll take a quick look at my gauges. At point "B" I might look at what position I'm in, point "C" my last lap time, etc. Keep yourself busy, this is work!
You also need to drive smart: there are only 10 laps left to the race, your next closest opponent is 12 seconds behind you and is gaining, but he's only gaining by .3 seconds a lap... Do you really need to be trying to set a personal best laptime? Probably not. OTOH, you don't want to drive so cautiously that you're not focused on your driving. If the driver is catching you, so be it. Deal with it when he gets there.
Legends sends out an email each race week, its quite long, but please read it at least once, it contains some usefull information we as a League have built up through experience and should enhance everyone's driving experience in our races. Also Failure to comply may result in severe penalties.