Ok. So, you’ve practiced (hopefully long stints like we previously talked about), you’ve set up your car and you’ve qualified for a position on the grid. It’s finally time for the actual race. There’s a lot that can go right, and there’s a lot that can go wrong. Here are some tips to run a clean and strong race.
1) The Start
This is where most racers get it wrong and I don’t just mean sim racers either. No matter where they are starting, they feel like they’ve got to win lap 1. If you’re in the front you’ve got to get out ahead. If you’re in the middle you’ve got to make up for subpar qualifying. If you’re in the back.... look at all these people I can pass with a divebomb!!!
The start of the race is full of anxiety and tight racing. The first few and last few laps are where most crashes happen. Don’t be the guy who divebombs and takes out 4 other cars. Stay calm and run your race like you practiced. You must learn to not let the moment be too big for you. You already know your pace if you’ve been practicing properly. You know the track. You must remain calm and let the people who don’t crash around you. Sometimes getting caught up in lap 1 crashes is unavoidable no matter what you do but focus on not being the one who causes the wreck. Getting out of the first couple laps cleanly is your goal.
2) Settle as fast as you can
So, you’ve survived lap 1. Now it’s time to get to your race pace. Setting consistent laps is your main goal here. They don’t have to be blazing fast but try and keep your times consistent. There are going to be others who are faster than you who will make mistakes that you can take advantage of. There will also be people who are slower than you who will beat you if you make mistakes. Keep it clean and get into your pace. Once you’re settled the race will come to you.
3) Remain calm and be realistic
Now you’re in the middle of the race. Let’s say you qualified 7th and you’re running 7th. Be realistic. With this car on this track 7th might be a great finish for you here. Only one person wins every race and there are plenty other finishes. Be real about where you are and where you want to be. You’ve survived the hardest part of the race already. Trying to push so hard that you crash or destroy your tires is going to end badly. This is where you figure out your goal for the end. Keep calm and keeping digging. It’ll be the end before you know it.
4) Finish strong
Finishing strong doesn’t mean “pass a bunch of cars”. If you have the opportunity to pass some other drivers in the later stages of the race then go for it, but don’t abandon your clean racing tactics just to gain a spot. This is where a lot of people lose focus and mess things all up. If they’re running 2nd and 1st is within reach, they feel like they must push harder and obtain 1st. While this may work, it often leads to dirty racing or ugly passes. This is how we get those “whose fault is it” videos. Remember that finishing in the place you’re in is better than not finishing at all. Never abandon the whole race just to make a desperate pass on somebody who’s got better pace than you. Now, you’re at the end. You’ve gotten to this point in one piece. It’s time to bring it home! Maybe you’re milking worn tires to the finish or maybe you’ve collected some damage along the way. Either way, you’re going to finish as long as you don’t do anything stupid, so keep your head.
5) Review your race
This is something that a lot of people don’t do, but it’s a great learning tool. Save your replays, go back and watch your race. You can use either the onboard camera you were racing in (hopefully cockpit view) or you can use the “TV cameras” that will allow you to see what kind of lines you were taking.
This is very helpful when learning Racecraft because it teaches you to be critical of yourself. Learn to pick apart your own passes or your own defenses. Remember, that even the pros make mistakes. The difference between a good driver and a great driver is not IF they make mistakes but how they learn from them. If you learn to see where improvements can be made and implement a change to circumvent previous mistakes, you’ll be a better driver for the next race!