Racing isn't just about raw speed over one lap. Racecraft plays a vital part in becoming a great virtual
driver along with consistency
and the ability to keep a cool level head.
If you can't keep cool and level-headed under pressure, you are liable to make racing mistakes. Panicking
under pressure makes it hard to position your car in the perfect driving position.
Video clip: Perfect defensive positioning.
You will also be susceptible
to fakes and dummies from drivers who are attacking you from behind, or worse still you'll start "driving in your mirrors". With a clear, cool head you will
be able to position your car correctly in both defensive and offensive positions. As well as being cool
and calm under pressure, a great virtual racing driver will have controlled, disciplined aggression.
Racing requires give and take between both drivers, but sometimes you have to take control and influence
your authority on a situation. If the corner belongs to you, sometimes you have to close
the door on another driver. You can only do this if racing against another driver with good racecraft,
otherwise they won't realise what is occuring and it will probably end in an unwanted contact. Like with
most things in life, you have to pick your battles.
Lauryn Hill of The Fugees said, "I play my enemies, like a game of chess". Remember this expression when going into battle with another sim racer on
the virtual track. Sometimes, it's mind games that will actually help you to make the pass, or even the
suggestion of a move that gets the driver you are trying to overtake to make a mistake, either in their
car positioning or by out-braking themselves. Getting into the mind of a driver, usually via their
mirrors, is a great trick that can not only unsettle less competent drivers, but also allows you to
make an easy pass rather than having to plan an overtake, sometimes over several laps.
Video clip: Getting into the mind of a driver.
When you get involved in close intense battle with another driver on track of equivalent speed
and ability as yourself you will need to open your box of tricks. If you are the
attacking driver quite often you will have to set up your overtake over a number of laps.
Once you catch
the driver infront you should always be looking for opportunites to make a safe pass. However, sometimes
obvious situations to make the pass are not apparent. In this scenario you need to look for
corners where your opponent is weak, either on corner entry or exit. Once you have
pinpointed their weakness on track, it is then time to start setting up your overtake. When you've
decided where to pass concentrate on getting a good run on your virtual opponent a
couple of corners before your chosen overtaking spot. A few well timed fakes leading up to your manouvre, even if they are only
half-hearted can also make the driver infront of you start to drive in their mirrors and possibly enduce
them into making an error themselves so that you don't even need to make an overtake.
Video clip: Setting up an overtake in a close battle.
When defending against a faster car, again you have to employ a defensive tactic from your box of tricks.
This might mean just laying off the throttle for a split second on corner exit from a slow hair-pin
if your opponent is right behind you. Nothing out of order - like brake checking them - just holding off
accelerating for a fraction of a second when your car is in the correct position, just to slow their exit
slightly and to allow you to hold your position along the next straight, setting up your defensive position
for the next turn on the track. This tactic can be seen the video below at around the 3 minute 52 second mark (although I am under pressure and having to defend from the very beginning of the clip).
My opponent is going to get a good run on me out of the bus stop chicance, but due to car postioning I can
halt their progress slightly in a legal fashion. This just means that instead of them getting flat on the power
and gaining an advantage they either have to make a slight dab of the brake pedal or let the accelerator pedal
breath for a split second, which at this point is all you need to keep them at bay, at least for the next turn.
Video clip: Defending your position against a faster car.
In a long drawn out track battle sometimes you have to employ advanced defensive driving techniques. There
will be certain sections of of the track where you will need to encourage your attacking opponent to take
specific lines, that to the rookie driver would look like you are giving up the battle and track position.
However, certain series of corners will require you to give your opponent the natural racing line if you are
two wide, so that in one or two corners time you will have the defensive line to thwart their attack. Track
knowledge and practice are the key elements in this scenario. Without prior knowledge this technique is
destined to fail.
Video clip: Offering the chasing car what looks like the optimal line, when in actual fact in two corners time, it will give me the advantage, as it's a tight left hand turn.