Today’s Tip – Have a Plan

PJC_4078 - Snetterton 2010smWhenever you go out on track have a plan for your driving.  If you are testing or out on a trackday be strict with yourself and decide beforehand what is the purpose of the day: Is it to learn the track?; Is it to try some setup changes?; Is it to develop a driving technique?  Similarly with competing, set a realistic goal and focus on it:  Aim to improve your time/position from your last visit; Sort out that corner you haven’t got right yet; have fun.  That last one is important.  If it’s not fun, whats the point of doing it?  Don’t heap too much pressure on yourself with unrealistic goals, give yourself an attainable target and focus on it.  As time goes by your target gets closer and closer to the front until your attainable target is to win.

When you are new to track driving your goals will be different to those more experienced.  For example, on a test or trackday a novice will need to be more focused on learning the track and the driving techniques and shouldn’t really touch the chassis setup as you won’t know if any improvements are coming from you or the car, whereas a more advanced driver may wish to spend a few laps re-learning the nuances of the track, part of the day working on a particular aspect of their driving then the rest of the day fine tuning the chassis setup.  Be focused and drive to your plan.

Also be disciplined in your driving when on track.  If you are focusing on a particular corner, don’t drive the other corners like it’s a qualifying lap, treat the section of track you are focusing on with speed and commitment but bring the speed back a few notches on the rest of the track, this gives you spare mental capacity to process the section you are focusing on before you arrive at it again.  If you are on maximum attack everywhere you will drive by instinct and keep making the same mistake at the same corner.  If you are learning a track, break it down into sections of corners that link together.  Smaller sections are easier to process and remember than the whole track and much like the technique above, each time you go out you can focus on a single section and ‘cruise’  the rest of the track so you are stamping that section into your mind clearly.  If you are focusing on chassis and setup changes, only change one thing at a time.  If you change the dampers and the anti-roll bars and the tyre pressures which one of them made you quicker?  Change one thing, do a few laps.  Use that information to change the next thing, do a few laps etc.

This ordered, focused approach seems like a long-winded way of going about things when all you want to do is get out there and have a blast but it will be time efficient in the long run and give you the opportunity to make the best of your track driving session.