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UniMAP Driving Guide

Click for a larger image

Click for a larger image

With SNF Touge heading to UniMAP Circuit in Perlis for it’s first round, I decided it might be fun to provide some driving tips at tackling this new track.

Less than a year old as I write this, UniMAP circuit was built with input from AAM, but essentially designed more as a Kart circuit, or more interestingly, as a Formula UniMAP circuit. Thus it has a good smooth surface, but the turns are typical of such a design for low-CoG grippy machines: lots of tight, hairpin-type turns. The circuit runs clockwise, has a total of 12 turns, of which only Turn-1 and Turn-12 are the only corners that are less than 90-degrees.

Observe the main image of the circuit with an overlaid ‘Ideal line’. Bear in mind that this ‘Ideal line’ is for cars, not karts or Formula Varsity-type vehicles. Whilst I shall not delve into the intricacies of each corner, here are some guidelines:

Tips for driving a car at UniMAP

1. All these tight corners require
– a LATE turn-in
– PATIENCE!
– planning for the next corner
Take these seriously. Charging into and thru the corners at UniMAP will see your 1-tonne-plus car just understeer wide. The corners are slow (2nd gear), and you’ll quickly reach – and exceed – the limit of your tyres traction. This is not good, you want to be able to maintain traction and set-up for the next turn in order to keep good speed

2. Turn-1 can be taken flat
– take as wide an entry as possible, hop the inside turn, look ahead and aim for the braking point of Turn-2
– deviate from this flight-path, and you will go off!

3. Turns 4 & 5 require a lot of patience. Slow right down on entry, turn-in as late as you can. Look ahead and aim to set-up for Turn 6. I personally tried keeping tight all the way around versus going wide mid-way then braking and turning-in tight again at T5.
Which line you take really depends on how your car handles, but above all massive patience is needed.

4. Car set-up: tail happy.
FF cars can try pump rear tyres to 60psi just for the event, but be sure to let out the air as soon as you finish or you might crash on the way home!
Using the handbrake for certain turns, if you are accomplished at this skill, will be beneficial. The aim is to use the handbrake to get the car rotated for the turn, but not to bleed off too much speed.

5. The most important corner at UniMAP is Turn-11!
Getting a good exit for this corner is imperative as it allows you to get good speed all the way till the finish line, as T12 can be taken flat. Again, brake early but gently, get a late turn-in, then exit as fast as you can and build up all that speed till the end of the lap.

6. Taking Turn-12: LOOK AHEAD!
To take T12 as fast as possible, you must look ahead. During your practice laps, learn to look ahead and find the apex, and generate as smooth a line as possible through the corner.
A quick half-throttle lift as you turn-in to help rotate the car, then flat out and aim at the exit. Should be no problem!

That’s it in a nutshell. Above all, UniMAP rewards clean driving with the least amount of time-wasting, speed-killing understeer. FF or RWD, no difference. A messy lap will lose you lots of time, although in a RWD you’ll have a lot of fun doing so!

Will we be providing any Touge racing tips? Stay-tuned..

SNF: Guide to Overtaking Rules

We will be implementing a set of overtaking guidelines from this coming round onwards in order to provide a structure to race driving discipline and the sporting code and conduct at SNF.

The diagrams help to explain what the Clerk Of The Course (COC) and Stewards will take into account when assessing a Official Protest and/or Complaint against another competitor’s sporting and driving conduct during the event. These guidelines are thus only that: structured guidelines. They are not exhaustive, and provide room for discretion on behalf of the Stewards and COC.

These guides are in addition to the official FIA International Sporting Code (Click here to view the list of PDFs of the FIA codes) and take into account the 2012 Formula 1 Sporting Code (Article 20).

OVERTAKING GUIDE

1. The FIA Sporting Regulations in general covers overtaking under “incidents”, so let us start by defining the word Incident according the FIA book:

“Incident means any occurrence or series of occurrences involving one or more drivers, or any action by any driver, which is reported to the stewards by the race director (or noted by the stewards and referred to the race director for investigation) or by official complaint / protest which:
– caused an avoidable collision;
– forced a driver off the track;
– illegitimately prevented a legitimate overtaking manoeuvre by a driver;
– illegitimately impeded another driver during overtaking.”

Therefore this quite clearly bans using physical contact to overtake and prohibits blocking a driver attempting to overtake.

2: “The repetition of dangerous driving, even involuntary, may result in the exclusion from the race.”

I believe this does not need explanation!

3: “Manoeuvres liable to hinder other drivers, such as deliberate crowding of a car beyond the edge of the track or any other abnormal change of direction, are not permitted.”

Do not push or force another car off the road. This is clear.

4: “More than one change of direction to defend a position is not permitted. Any driver moving back towards the racing line, having earlier defended his position off‐line, should leave at least one car width between his own car and the edge of the track on the approach to the corner.”

This means that a driver can defend the inside line and then move back across to take a better line in to the following corner as long as they leave space for another car on the outside.

5: “The leading driver can choose his line up until the driver behind brings any part of his car beside the leading car’s rear wheels / rear bumper: at that moment the driver ahead is obliged to leave one car width of space”

The car behind only has an obligation to give way to the car ahead if he is proven to be behind. But once he gets any part of his car side-by-side with the car ahead, then the car in front has an obligation to give space. For a recent example refer to Vettel’s drive-thru penalty for pushing Alonso off the outside of Curva Grande at the 2012 Italian GP at Monza.

WORKING EXAMPLES

Example 1: Car behind gets inside of car ahead into Turn 5

Green Car (in front) must give space for Red Car in the inside. Red Car must also give space to Green Car on the outside (Click for larger image)

Red Car is deemed side-by-side and has a right to the inside once it’s front tyres are next to the rear bumper/rear tyres of Green Car which is in front. Green Car thus must provide space for Red Car to manouevre on the inside. Red Car cannot push Green Car wide to the outside. As they head to Turn 6, Red Car thus must provide space for Green Car on the inside.

Example 2: Car behind dives under-braking into T4

Red Car (in front) must give space on the inside to Green Car, as Green Car has deemed to be side-by-side with Red Car (his front tyres are by the side of the car ahead). On the corner exit, Green Car must provide space for Red Car. (Click for larger image)

In this example above, if Red Car crowds Green Car into the apex which causes an ‘incident’, then Red Car is at fault. Simultaneously, at corner exit, Green Car must provide space on the outside for Red Car to maintain it’s line.

Example 3: Car ahead pushes wide at corner exit

In this situation, Green Car may not squeeze or crowd Red Car, and must provide room on the outside to manouevre (Click for larger image)

In this example, Green Car which is ahead, pushes (understeers) wide exiting Turn 1, and Red Car takes advantage to stick to the inside and get side-by-side with Green Car. Red Car’s front tyres are now past Green Car’s rear bumper/rear tyres. Green Car decides to close the door on Red Car by squeezing him to the outside, causing an ‘incident’. This is not acceptable.

SUMMARY

In short, having explained all this, from here onwards let it be known that All Drivers should know how they should behave on the circuit. In the case of any official protest or complaint, the ‘incident’ will be reviewed by the Race Stewards and decisions based on the guidelines above.

Good luck!

J-Circuit Pasir Gudang: Turn-by-turn guide

INTRODUCTION

As we head towards the first ever Time Attack to take place at J-Circuit Pasir Gudang, I decided now is a good time to create a turn-by-turn circuit guide to what is know affectionately as ‘PG’.

Now, I do not profess to be a ‘Specialist’ of J-Circuit Pasir Gudang but anyway, it’s about time someone produce a turn-by-turn guide to this classic Malaysian circuit. Have no doubt, there are many newbies that head to this track in search of more thrills than what the sterilised F1-grade circuits of our contemporary era provide. My advice is to go while you can, because whenever I enquire about the status of upgrade of PG’s facilities, year-upon-year I’ve been advised that repairs will be conducted soon but sadly, year-upon-year nothing really has happened!

The fear of course is that one day it will go the same way as the sorely missed Batu Tiga Speedway Circuit: broken down and it’s now valuable land sold off for new commercial or industrial development. If we don’t go, then surely the odds of this occurring worsen as the current circuit management struggle to make ends meet.

Do some Googling and you’ll find the directions, and there are some trackie-groups that organise frequent track days. To be a driving enthusiast and not enjoy the swoops and loops of J-Circuit Pasir Gudang is to read Playboy and ignore the, ah.. interesting photo pictorials. Pretty sad, right?

THE BASICS

Circuits built and designed before Formula One became the artificial, politicised, over-hyped glam-circus that it now is had a certain flow and challenge, a ‘risk vs. reward’ attribute that meant you could never, ever take the circuit for granted. Thus it is with great joy that J-Circuit flows and swoops up, down and around the landscape on which it is built. No piddly 2nd gear turns here, no hard-braking for more than 2-seconds at most, nothing that requires twiddly steering movements. Also, run-off is less vast than that of a modern F1 circuit, so you need to adjust accordingly.

View this image that I put together below, which I captured from Google Earth. Thanks to modern technology, you can get a glimpse of the literal ups and down of the place. Fantastic, isnt’ it?

Google Earth image showing elevation changes during a lap of Pasir Gudang circuit (CLICK ON IMAGE FOR LARGER SIZE)

Some basic points for PG circuit noobs

1.  Start your first lap with 50% in reserve, then increase it by 10% margins every lap until you’re up to 90%. Always keep 5-10% in reserve at a circuit like PG. The reward to a quick laptime is balancing this.

2.  With its worn track surface and less run-off, you cannot approach turns in the same manner as you do in Sepang. Develop a feel for your speed: brake a bit earlier, be more gentle on turn-in, do not scrub / understeer / push the front tyres. You always want the front tyres to have 100% grip at PG. Enter a corner too fast and you will scrub the front tyres (left front especially) and they’ll be gone in 5 laps.

3.  There aren’t big huge braking markers like a modern circuit, so you need to pay attention to other landmarks. At PG it’s usually the curbs, pay attention to where they begin and end, and use these as marking points for braking and turn-in.

4.  The turns aren’t constant radius like a modern circuit. They’ll sharpen or open up, they have positive or negative camber that enhances/reduces grip. Learn these quickly, learn how to maximise them.

5.  There are blind braking zones and turns, and huge elevation changes. Pay close attention to marshal flags, as more than anywhere else the flags will tell you what’s going on over the other side of a hill or blind corner.

THE GUIDE

This guide is just that: a general guide. It doesn’t highlight some of the other secrets that the regulars have found, nor does it guarantee a quickest ever laptime. As with these things, depending on your car, power, and drivetrain layout, certain turns will need to be taken slightly differently.

Turn 1 

CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE

Turn 1 is more important than you might know, as it leads to the long 700m downhill back straight at PG. You’ll approach T1 on the far left, and it’s taken in 3rd gear. Do not brake too late, rather brake slightly earlier, a bit gentler, and guide the car into the turn on the brakes, using them to pivot the car but do not overload them. This is because you don’t want to turn in too early, which will provide an unfavourable exit line (view the green line, marker ‘B’).

When you’re heading into the turn, it’s very tempting to turn-in when you see the corner, but be patient! It’s a long turn, and you want to focus on getting the power down early for a good exit onto the straight. Use the curb on the left as a marker, turn-in towards the end of it (marker ‘A’). At this point, chose to apex where you get a view of the slingshot onto the straight, and from there you put the power down hard.

Turn 2-3-4

CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE

These corners have to be discussed in a series as they are connected by a smooth flow from one to another. Mess it up at one of them, and you’ll lose speed all the way through.

Turn 2 is daunting: you’ll be flat out in 5th (or 6th) and T2 is a bit more than a kink, but yet not a full turn. Noobs will want to brake, then advance to lifting off, then graduate to taking it flat-out. Again the temptation to turn-in early is there, yet you don’t want to turn too late and scrub off speed: a good starting point is marker ‘A’, which is halfway between the curbs on the right. Make it into one long flow with minimum steering angle and maximum speed.

Exiting T2 the car will be unbalanced but you’ll need to start braking for T3, which is taken in 3rd gear. This part of it is pure feel fellas, sorry can’t help you here. It’s too much to put into words: car is doing 190-200kmh, rear still light from exiting T2, T3 is coming up fast, and you need to brake hard!

The saviour is that you can brake in a straight line further than you think you can, as you want to take a late turn-in. Check out marker ‘B’ at the end of the curbs on the right. Again, slow down 5km/h more than you think, get good grip on the front tyres, and power through the late apex. Use all the road on exit (marker ‘C’), then head for the curbs on the outside of T4.

The run to T4 is slightly downhill, and T4 itself is slightly cambered, with the exit sort of hidden behind the hill cutting. Late turn-in at the end of the curbs as illustrated by marker ‘D’ and get good flow with probably just a touch of the brakes as you drop back to 3rd gear. Late apex, and power hard up the hill.

Turn 5

CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE

You’ll crest the hill after T4 having snatched 4th along the way, then the track heads downhill slightly and blasts you into the cambered and longer-than-you-think Turn 5. Dab the brakes whilst in a straight line (to avoid scrubbing during turn-in), drop down to 3rd gear again. Turn-in where the entry curb ends at marker ‘B’, get on the throttle slightly, take a late apex and then full power on exit.

Due to the camber you’ll realise that you can actually take the turn slightly quicker than you think, something you’ll gain with experience. Aim on getting good corner exit speed for the climb up the next hill.

Turn 6-7-8

CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE

Another series of turns where flow is important, linking them all together can reward you with big gains. View the first image above on how it all needs to work, and then we’ll dissect the corners one-by-one below.

I call Turn 6 the Left Front Tyre Killer: if you load up the front left too hard under turn-in, its sayonara to your tyre’s rubber within 5 laps. You approach T6 with a steep downhill after cresting the gradient from T5, and it is fast, very fast! You’ll be in 4th gear by now, probably only 20-25km/h slower than when you approached T2 earlier (anywhere from 160 – 190km/h).

CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE

In the bad old days of Saga racing they’d just flick the car in on full power, but the track (and cars) were different back then. Plus there’s the nervy fear of only like 10-15m of run-off, so it’s not a corner you want to fly off on.

You take it in 4th, usually with just a lift off but if you’re piloting an 800hp 4WD monster street car you’d probably disagree with that! If you’re going to scrub off speed do it in a straight line, what’s important here is to be on the throttle once you commence turn-in, so that you do not scrub the front tyres. This turn is all about flow and suspension pliancy, get it all right and you exit being enough grip left in the tyres and response in the suspension to carefully line up for T7.
A good starting point is to turn-in at the end of the entry curbs (marker ‘A’). Do not turn-in early as indicated by the green dotted line because as you can see, you’ll end up running out of road on the exit.

CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE

For Turn 7, you want to set it up to straight line to the turn-in point for Turn 8, the line as indicated by marker ‘A’. You can put all 4 tyres over the small curb where the green arrow indicates on both corners, but whatever you do, do not give in to the temptation of climbing the curbs on the exit of T8! These are flat, slippery curbs, and if you’re not in a straight line when you climb T8’s exit curb, you’ll be spun around into the opposite wall!

Turn 9-10

CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE

I call this sequence the Corkscrew, coz it kinda reminds me of the Laguna Seca corkscrew. Although it’s not as perverse, it’s fun enough with blind high-speed entry over crest, hard braking, tight turns, and big altitude drop!

Beginners will start braking before the hill starts dropping but ideally, you only brake when you get to the entry curb (marker ‘A’). No joke! And brake HARD, dropping to 3rd in the process, then flicking the car into the right-hander in a slide to scrub off inertia. And please, do not try this on your first time out!

The other noob mistake is turning in too early and straight-lining it, as indicated by the dotted green line: from top view you can see how wrong this is. You need to recognise that its two corners in one with a straight after that, so aim to line-up for a good exit for T10. Turn-in to T9 past the end of the curb (marker ‘B’).

Turn 12

CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE

The last corner is a simple 90-degree right taken in 3rd gear. Simple, but you’ll notice lots of marks on the dirt on exit where noobs go off from taking it too fast. Brake in a straight line, and be sure to slow down enough: do not scrub! Turn-in late where the entry curb ends (marker ‘A’) and get on the power.

Then wave past your friends as you burn past the pit wall, and set yourself up for another thrilling lap starting from Turn 1!

Batu Tiga Circuit: Classic turn-by-turn guide

Many years ago, my then tarmac-rally navigator and one of our best buddies took the effort to dissect the original Home of Malaysian Motorsport, Batu Tiga Speedway Circuit (BTSC), turn-by-turn and present it as a Guide to Driving Batu Tiga on our website TeamMatrix.com.my (which no longer exists of course!). This artice has hence become infamous, and was later taken by Hypertune and printed in 2002, issue #13.

And now, with the demise of BT3, his golden words are now worth a whole lot more. So please allow us to present to you, the original article of this now classic, much-loved and much-missed circuit, by Ken Yap (who later went on to a Class A podium in MME 2007):

BATU TIGA CIRCUIT – A LAP WITH TEAM MATRIX
by Ken Yap

As with any good circuit, this track can be driven in a number of ways. Different powered cars with different grip levels have different lines… And arguing on which technique for each corner is faster can be debated till the cows come home, so what I’m going to do here is give a general guide to this circuit. I am by no means ‘Dr’ Jimmy Low, but the general idea is there. Fine tuning of brake points and lines will be up to each individual. Speak with 10 different drivers, and you’ll go home with 10 different answers.

Some people have the opinion that Batu Tiga is very ‘mickey mouse’. What does ‘mickey mouse’ mean anyway???
A ‘mickey mouse’ track is a point-and-squirt circuit, no balls out fast corners to challenge the macho. [Sheesh.. this was quite obviously before they realised how boring Sepang F1 Circuit is! – adian 2011]

In a sense this is true of BT3, as we like to call it. The narrow nature of the track and some very sharp corners makes for type of circuit where power gives you very little advantage. Most cars have wrong gearing for this track, and car setup is very important. Cars that are nippy and turn easily suit this track as there are very few really fast corners. [haha.. in terms of Big Balls Requirements the flat-out off-camber right-hand kink on the Shell Straight kicks the ass outta Sepang T12 anyday! – adian 2011]

According to ‘sifus’ who have been there and done that, a car that is set up for Batu Tiga tends not to do well on other tracks as the car tends to be very ‘pointy’ and unstable on fast sweepers. The abrasive nature of the track also makes a car that is not set up well to suffer from accelerated tyre wear.

Okay enough of bullshit. The following is a typical lap in a Proton 1.8 Putra.

Turns 1 and 2

As you fly past the start/finish straight, keep to the extreme right. As far right as you can keep, and watch where the wall ends. Just past the wall is where you start braking. Drop to 3rd gear. Treat turn 1 and 2 as one. Turn in very late but clip turn 1 early. Pour on the power early and the car drifts into the apex of turn two. Essentially turn 2 is ignored as your eyes look toward turn 3.

Turns 3, 4, 5 and 6

Grab 4th gear as you approach turn 3. Try to keep a straight line as you approach the outside of the approaching corner. Turn 3 is a long tightening right hander leading into a left hander. Brake as late as you dare, drop to 3rd and ease the car into the turn, being gentle with the steering. The apex is way way way down the road. In fact you won’t be able to see the apex from where you turn in, so you have to keep the car on the outside edge of the road. Throttle control is important here, you’ll feel it understeering and it is very tempting to turn-in too early and understeer on the off-cambered exit, messing it all up for turn 4. At the end of this U-shaped turn keep the car on the inside, don’t let the car drift out too wide under power as you need to line up for turn 4.

Turn 4 has an uphill approach, and a very very late apex again. The road camber goes off just when you need the most grip. This is a tricky one and catches a lot of people unaware. (I was one of the few who spun out on my first try). After the tyre screaming balls out technique of turn 3, turn 4 feels dead slow and silly. You have to keep the approach slow so as to be able to turn the car enough so you can power out of it. Getting a good, clean exit out of this corner gains you time into the esses of turn 5 and 6.

I like to use 2nd gear in this turn 4. Some drivers prefer third gear. With a 2nd gear approach, you have to be very spot on with your heel-and-toe timing so as not to jerk the car. Turn in very late (again), smoothly but quickly. You can use your left foot here (if your car understeers like mad, which it probably will!) if applicable. In fact, this is a great corner to learn the technique. As soon as the car is turned, power on and shift to 3rd gear.

With the 3rd gear approach, a wider cornering arc is needed and you need to get your line perfect. Or you’ll mess up thru the esses.

Try to power in a straight line thru the esses and just bang through. Suspension set-up is important here if you have plans to ride the kerbs. Sometimes, after messing up turn 4, your approach angle is off, so you are unable to straightline through. That’s why the series of corners 3,4,5 and 6 is very important for a good lap here. Mess up turn 3 and you can well mess up the rest.

Turn 7 and the Shell Straight (Turns 8/9)

Right after the esses (you should be in 4th gear by now), is the valley-like right hander (turn 7) that leads to the back straights. Again exit speed is king here. Right after the esses, brake, drop to third. Keep your brakes on and turn in as you slowly release the brakes. This is called trail braking. Be patient and get on the power as smoothly as you can. If you pour on the power too early and understeer, you will scrub off too much speed and be uncompetitive for the whole straight as a result. And if you enter the corner in an oversteering slide, you’ll also scrub off your speed. It’s important to realise that good drive is required out of this corner if you are to make a good sprint down the straight. Use the whole width of the track to gain as much speed as possible before the straight actually starts.

Keep the power on and straight line thru turn 8. Drift to the left for the approach to turn 9. This wide right hander looks sharp, but heave your balls up and find as big an arc as possible thru here. It is not as sharp as it looks and the apex is at the end of the turn! Do remember that in a FWD car, just your your foot to the floor in fast sweeping turns and hang-on, DON’T EVER LIFT OFF or you will spin. In a Putra with good tyres and good suspension, this can be taken flat out at the higher rpms of 4th gear or even fifth if you had a good run thru. This corner is where you eat into the lap times. Keep your balls tight and get half a second!!

Turns 10 and 11

The approach to turn 10 can get messy if you get your braking wrong. If you lined up turn 9 correctly, you should be at the right hand side of the track and seeing turn 10 approach with blinding speed. Brake just before you reach the red and white rumble strips. This portion of the track is notoriously bumpy, so brake modulation is important. Drop into 3rd, turn in real late and swing left into the corner. Keep on the outside and apex some ways after the midway point, all the while building up speed. Left foot dancing here is useful to keep the speeds up if your car understeers. Use the full width of the track to gather as much speed as you can.

Grab 4th gear, swing left and brake into the approach to turn 11. If you’re racing, try to stay on the outside of the exit of turn 10 to place yourself on the inside for turn 11. This is another tricky one as there a big dip in the middle of the corner, which can affect the balance of the car and unneccesarily scrub speed. Clear this ninety degree right hander in 3rd gear as quickly as you can with a clean drift, and keep wide to approach what we used to call Lucas Loop or turn 12.

Turn 12 (Lucas Loop)

You should just have shifted into 4th gear on the approach, so just touch the brakes, keep high up into the outside and ease into the corner. This is another corner where you cannot see the apex at the turn in point. Modulate the throttle and try to keep the balance of speed and traction up. Keep the steering at a good position and as the corner opens up gradually floor the throttle. This is another corner where your balls seem heavy as there is very little run off area and you are approaching redline in 4th gear….

There are differing approaches to this corner. Some turn it into a double-apex, some turn late and hang-on. Find out which is best for you.

Turn 13 (Rothman’s Corner)

If you had a good run, you should be able to touch 5th gear just before you reach the pit entrance. This little lane is your braking marker for the chicane of turn 13 and 14. Slice turn 13 and swing the car right into turn 14. Usage of 2nd or 3rd gear is debatable again here. And different drivers handle this chicane differently. But most agree that you early apex turn 14 and use the width of the track to get some good accelerative traction onto the start/finish straight.

Wave past your friends on the pit wall, and set yourself up for turn 1.

Batu Tiga is fun but very hard on tyres and brakes. So be prepared for this. This track will bring out startling deficiencies in the car, so is a good place for testing your latest shocks. Have fun!

Race Craft Basics: Traction Circle

RC-tractioncirclejpg

Original article from TeamMatrix.com.my 2001 by Suffian Yim

Before we even step in to traction, let’s take a look at what it actually is first. As you all should know, traction (or friction) comes by having two different surfaces going against each other. In the case of a car, that would be the tire having to go against the road.

To make it easier, we draw a simple circle and put in the forces acting on the car when we drive. Traction has two components which consists of the straight-line component and the lateral component as illustrated in this simple diagram. The vertical line depicts the friction associated with accelerating and braking whereas the horizontal line depicts the traction associated with left and right turning.

While driving, when we take a corner to the limit point of the car, soft or maybe familiar skidding sounds can be heard. This shows that the car is right at the end of the limit in the circle. If we actually exceed the traction circle limits while turning, loud skidding sounds will be heard. In short, in order to drive fast, we have to drive within the limit, which means taking the car as smooth as possible and right to its traction limit.

Anything within the limit of the circle does not take full advantage of the tires’ traction capacity and anything outside of the circle will induce slipping, and tire locking that increases the braking distance. If the limit is exceeded while turning, the car may not be able respond as efficiently to the steering wheel, causing it to go into a spin.

The points not on the vertical or the horizontal line are a combination of acceleration or deceleration and turning. Let’s put it now that the traction circle represents 100% of traction capacity, if we use 100% for braking then we would have no room to turn the car. In order to actually turn the car while on the brakes, then we would have to ease our leg on the brakes according to how much percentage we wish to put in turning.

In order to drive as fast as possible while taking it smooth, then the limits must not be broken but instead the car is driven to its highest performance limit.

Race Craft: Module 1

RACE CRAFT WITH IGNITION.MY: MODULE 1

With the advent of Saturday Night Fever, we decided that it’s about time we shared some of our knowledge and experience on what is known as ‘Race Craft’.

This is Module 1 of a multi-part series of articles which we will put up to discuss and define on-track door-to-door dog-fighting for racing cars. Stay tuned for more releases as the days and weeks go by.

What is Dog-Fighting?
I like to call it On-Track Pugilism. “Float like a Cadillac, sting like a Beemer!” as said by Lightning McQueen. But it’s far from being a children’s cartoon show!

Door-to-door action isn’t like a solo-lap or time attack, where you have the comfort of an empty circuit ahead and behind you, where all the theoretically correct lines are possible and easily achieved. Almost any driver worth his teh-tarik can fling a car quickly around an empty ribbon of tarmac. Throw in just one car within a 10-metre space anywhere around you, and all that changes!

Let’s get beyond the usual stuff such as the Correct Seating Position, Heel-and-Toe, hitting the Apex, Slow-In-Fast-Out. Once you engage in dog-fighting, these fundamentals need to be instinctual, because you are going to use the majority of your concentration on the enemy. They say a good racer only utilises 20% of his focus on driving, and the other 80% on the environment: the position of his car to the others, the whereabouts of other cars around him, and the next 3 corners ahead.

Prove to us you have a big one!

Just like other forms of combat and warfare, door-to-door racing has two sides: the Attacker, and the Defender. In all our diagrams, the Green Car is the Defender, and the Red Car is the Attacker.

Respect your Opponents
Above all else, motor-racing is meant to be a respectable sport. The racing equivalent of ear-biting and blows-below-the-belt is blocking, weaving, and worst of all intentionally knocking into your opponent.

Some of the moves you may watch in modern Formula One aren’t actually acceptable. Schumacher does it, so does Hamilton, and so did Senna. True, they are individuals which are truly driven to be Champions, but it’s chilling to note that they do not mind putting others at risk to achieve their ambition.

Simply put, modern Formula One racing isn’t racing. Don’t watch F1 on television and hope to learn anything about dog-fighting. Watch MotoGP (125cc are the best!), Touring Cars, and one-make racing.

Let’s just say that drivers that resort to the despicable tactics probably have small dicks (or if you’re a woman, you’re a bitch). I leave it to them to prove me wrong: be an adult and accept the consequences, rather than attempting to take a cheap pot-shot at your adversary.

Now, have a look at diagram 1A. As mentioned, weaving left-right-left-right down the straight with the intention of blocking the Attacker is not acceptable. It’s dangerous, it’s a nuisance, and it you’re acting like an idiot.

Diagram 1A. Click to open larger version.

Going into the corner, if the Attacker is already down your inside as you brake for the turn, then let him past. Do not turn-in and block his line, as this squeezing manoeuvre more often than not will result in the Attacker unintentionally tagging you in the rear and spinning you around. There are other alternative measures that will enable you to get a crack at him.

The Basic Defensive Line
Ayrton Senna said in a race, he would always be mentally thinking 3 corners ahead. He would be planning and scheming and setting up his car and opponent, to manoeuvre the elements around him as to provide a favourable situation for him to successfully get past.

As a Defending Driver, always position yourself to guard the inside-line on a turn, as depicted in diagram 1B. Exit the previous corner and immediate take a defending position, trying to force the Attacker to have to go to the outside as you head towards the turn.

Diagram 1B. Click to open larger version

A common mistake is for the Defending Driver to then brake as late as possible. Don’t fall into this trap! Think about it: you already have the inside-line, it is already a tight-squeeze for the Attacker to try get past. Additionally, due to the tighter turning-circle of the inside-line, you will not be able to carry as much speed as the Attacker, so you need to slow-down even further!

Brake at the same point as you always do at Point A. The Attacker will either outbrake himself, or have to slot in behind you.

The Bunch-Up
Once the Attacker is safely behind you as the both of you turn into the corner, a little trick is to keep slowing down ever-so-slightly, and force the Attacker to brake and slow-down too. Time it so that this happens just as you hit the apex of the corner, line yourself up for the exit and then stamp on the throttle! This will catch him off-guard, bunch him up, and will buy you a little gap and breathing space down the next straight.

Basic Attack
The most Basic Attack is of course to dive down the inside of the car ahead. But the question commonly asked is, how deep can you go?

I have personally gone right down the inside with two tyres on the grass and out-braked about 8 cars, slotting in neatly into traffic, slowed down just a bit to bunch them up behind me, and zoomed off into the distance!

Of course it takes some guts and experience, but the simple answer is just go deeper than the Defender! If he stays outside, then keep on his inside down the middle of the track. If he squeezes towards the inside to attempt to cover the line and block you, then you move deeper towards the insider too.

Villeneuve overtakes Schumacher.. on the outside!

Refer to the explanation above in the Basic Defensive Line: as long as you have the inside line, the car on the outside will be forced to slow-down and slot in behind you. Going around the outside is dirty and a longer distance to travel due to being a wider arc, and really just won’t work.

Only Jacques Villeneuve has ever successfully overtaken on the outside (J.Villeneuve vs M.Schumacher, Estoril 1996), and well.. that kid never really was firing on all cylinders haha!

The Up-and-Under
Still referring to diagram 1B of Sepang’s T1 and T2, let’s look at what simple actions the Attacker can implement in a two-car situation with the Defending Driver holding the Basic Defensive Line.

Look carefully between Point A and Point B. The Defender has kept the inside line. Due to his shallower inside-line, more often the not the Defender tends to push a bit wide into the turn, providing a small opening on the inside. But that small opening is all the Attacker needs!

Rather than get in behind the Defender, the Attacker can continue to brake and slow-down more than usual, and turning-in to the corner later than the Defender. From basic racing driving, you will recognise that this provides a straighter exit from the turn, meaning that the Attacker can accelerate sooner and harder than the Defender. Executed well, the Attacker will safely be on the inside of the Defender at Point B. If there was a long straight after the turn, the Attacker would now have the advantage and be able to pull ahead and go up one position.

However for Sepang’s T1 and T2, it’s a bit more complicated than that.

Basic Attacker in ‘S’ curve
Due to the switchback nature of T1 and T2, the Attacker will now find himself once again on the outside of the approaching corner, albeit side-by-side with the Defender but holding the theoretical advantage as the Defender will be coming in shallow, still taking the Basic Defensive Line. This is Point C.

Once again, the Attacker should brake late, take a wide entry, and shoot for a late-apex (Point D) and as straight an exit as possible in order to put the power down and gun past.

It gets dirty when three's a crowd!

Performed effectively, the Attacker will exit side-by-side with the Defender but carrying a speed advantage down T3 and up the straight towards T4.

Multiple Offensives
If there are more than just 2 cars duking it out, then you need to enhance your Situational Awareness (SA). You are now the Attacker, and the Defender. Be patient, and try to project your actions to manoeuvre your opponents to where you want them to be. As Senna exclaimed: Think Ahead!

If it’s a single corner, keep a semi-tight Defensive Line, to be ready to take advantage of any mistake the Defender ahead might do, as well as to protect your line from the Attacker.

In an ‘S’ curve complex such as T1 and T2 at Sepang, go shallow into T1 and do the Bunch-Up to slow down the Attacker behind you. This gets him out of the way and means he’ll be too far away by T2 to mount an attack. Pick the wide entry line Up-and-Under for T2, and dive under Defender as you exit the corner. Voila!