It’s tempting, at this time of year, to kick back and relax. The new season is ages away, right?
Start your prep now. If you don’t I can guarantee someone else on the grid has already started their prep and you want to start the season as prepared as you can be, not be playing catch-up.
I’m issuing you a challenge for the winter: learn how to make data work for you.
Spend time looking at your chosen data analysis software and learn all it can offer. The more you know about it the better weapon it is in your arsenal. Learn to read all the data efficiently and fluently so you can identify all the ways it can show where improvements can be made in your driving.
This will give you a big advantage in 2019 in getting up to speed quickly and maximising your performance.
If you need any help with your data analysis drop me a line and I’ll be happy to book a coaching slot for you.
After a safety car period you will have a single-file rolling restart. These differ from normal rolling starts in a number of fundamental ways.
Firstly, with a restart, you will line up single file rather in a two-by-two grid formation. Secondly, with a rolling start as soon as the red light goes out the race is on however with a restart the race only begins when you cross the start/finish line so you cannot overtake until you cross this line.
As with a rolling start, if you are not the race leader, follow the car in front as close as you can but there is no need to look at the lights, just focus on the cars in front and as soon as they go: you go. If you are the leader back the pack up as you approach the last third of the lap, make sure the safety car has pitted before you increase speed. Try to catch the following cars unawares with when you get back on the power, if you can make a gap to the car behind here you will have a clear advantage.
This time of year is all about relaxing and excess but if you want to perform next season do a bit of work to keep sharp over the break.
Turn down that second mince pie, keep going for a run or your trips to the gym, review your previous performances, practice on a simulator (or try to persuade your partner that your new Xbox is not just for FIFA, Forza and Fortnite, its an investment in your mental preparation…) and best of all get to your local kart track and turn some laps. The kart will handle completely differently to your normal ride but it will keep your mind and skills honed.
I see so many drivers throwing away track-time on rolling starts either through poor positioning or poor preparation.
Firstly, listen to the Clerk of the Course during the drivers briefing, if they have their own quirks, rules or things they look out for you need to know this. For example, some clerks are adamant that each column of cars is lined up over the grid markings as they approach the line so if you poke your nose out of the line the start is likely to be aborted. Other clerks can be less fussy about this aspect but might be more concerned with approach speed for example.
If you are on pole then you set the pace once the pace car has peeled off to the pits. You want to be at roughly the requested speed (usually between 40 and 60 kph) but pick a speed that suits you and your car. You don’t want the engine spinning near the top of its rev range as the moment the red light goes out you will run out of revs and have to shift. You want the engine speed to be just about to reach peak torque, as this will give you the most acceleration, but with enough headroom to accelerate cleanly without needing to shift too soon.
If you are further back in the pack make sure you are right on the bumper of the car in front, any gap you leave to the car in front of you is tracktime you are throwing away. As your speed will be dictated by the speed of the pack around you you may have more of a compromise in terms of gears and engine speed but the same rules apply: lowest possible gear with room to accelerate without shifting. Look at the lights and use your peripheral vision to keep a check on the car in front. Also be prepared to move out of line immediately to both defend your position from the car behind and attack the car in front.
When launching off the line with a limited-slip differential (lsd) or locking differential the preparation begins on the warm up lap. As you leave the dummy grid do your best to lay a couple of big black lines. Spin the wheels vigorously to lay down the rubber.
On the remainder of the warm up lap keep working to heat up the tyres, especially on the driven axle. When you return to the grid park in exactly the same place, making sure your driven wheels are on-top of the black lines of rubber you previously left.
At the ‘5 second’ board bring the revs up to approximately 3/4 maximum and select 1st gear with the clutch down. The moment the red lights go out sidestep the clutch to re-engage it with a ‘snap’ and give the gas a quick stab. The tyres will get better grip on the rubber you previously left on the track but you want the wheels spinning. Its easier to hold the tyres just over the limit of grip by judging throttle opening than it is to balance throttle AND clutch slip.
As the tyres start to grip up feed into full throttle and only shift up when you reach peak revs AFTER your tyres have gained full traction, not when they are still spinning.
Race starts are a great time to make up positions. Being good off the line gives you a distinct advantage.
If your car has an open differential you need to manage wheelspin so balance relatively low revs with clutch slip until you have the momentum to close the clutch completely. If you are too aggressive you will start one wheel spinning and you will loose all your speed and momentum as all the power is spun away through that one wheel.