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Driving Technique: Understanding Racing Line

Back to the driving technique segment, this time we will discuss racing lines.

As the name implies, racing line is an imaginary line that is used when racing, especially when the car turns or cornering.

” Straight roads are for fast cars, turns are for fast drivers .” – Colin McRae

Actually this racing line is not only there when it turns, even when it is straight this line is still there. However, when conditions are straight, indeed not much is done. We only rely on the gas pedal and engine power. At the turn, technique, skill and of course the courage of a driver is tested.

The goal of racing line is to minimize travel time. How fast can we go in and out of a turn. Racing line is also used to maneuver in turns whether it’s overtake (attacking) or when defending.

I remind you again, I am not a racer. Similar to the purpose of this blog, this article I wrote with the aim to learn through writing. So, please later if anyone wants to correct, add or share their experiences regarding this racing line.

Let’s just start.

Terms and Parts of a Turn

Before discussing further, let us recognize a few terms in racing line. A turn will consist of the following sections.

  1. Braking Point is the part before the turn where we will start to incubate to reduce the speed of the car before entering the turn.
  2. Turn-in Point (Turning Point) is the position after / while braking where we start to turn / direct the steering wheel of the car into a turn. We can turn while still braking the so-called Trail Braking technique .
  3. Apex is the turning point of a bend located in the inner corner of a turn. Apex is a phase of transition or movement between entry and turn out. After the car touches the apex, we will press the gas pedal again to get out of the turn.
  4. Exit Point (the Exit Point) is the end of a turn. At this point the car will be tested to go full speed (full throttle).

 Things That Affect Racing Line

The type or form of racing line is not just one. Some factors that must be considered in determining a racing line are as follows.

  1. Car Handling . The character of the car will affect the racing line. Does our car tend to be understeer or oversteer ?
  2. Car Power . How much power is our car? Racing line on cars with not too much power will be different from cars with large power.
  3. Braking Ability . How fast can the car slow down and turn? A car with good braking can do maximum acceleration then brake quickly to the desired turning point.
  4. Type of Track After Turn . After what exit point turns? Is it a long straight, or will it turn right / left again? This will greatly affect the racing line that we will take.
  5. Passing . Turn is often a place to fight racers. This is where overtakes usually occur , attacks to overtake the opponent. Racing line will depend on the position of the car that is attacking or defending when turning.

 The Geometric Racing Line

Geometric Racing Line, or we call it geometric racing line, is a geometrically curved track line following a curve. The apex on this track is located right in the middle of the corner in a turn.

Geometric track lines use the area outside the track when entry and after passing the apex, the car will also exit widening on the outside of the track. Although mathematically, this line is the best path to turn but is not always the fastest track. Geometric track lines are often also referred to as Classic / Traditional Line .

The advantages of geometric path lines are as follows.

  1. Smooth and efficient track.
  2. Can maintain the momentum of the car well, especially very useful for cars with power that is not too large.
  3. Reducing the possibility of understeer or oversteer. Very useful when it is raining or the road is slippery.
  4. Better maintain tire life (more durable).

Modern Racing Line

The next track line is the modern racing line which is often also referred to as the Ideal Racing Line or Late Apex . This track line is ideal for use when racing.

On modern track lines, the turn-in point position is more final than the geometric path line. This makes the apex point shift from the middle of the corner in the turn toward the exit turn (late apex). With this line, the speed of entry, entering the turn is indeed somewhat reduced. But the speed out of the turn will be much faster.

The advantages of modern track lines are as follows.

  1. Increase lap time speed on cars with large power.
  2. Enables the driver to try the accelerator faster again.
  3. Very useful for turns before a long straight line.
  4. Allow braking for a little longer (later) before entering the turn. Of course this requires a good car braking system.

The weaknesses of the modern track are as follows.

  1. Not necessarily the fastest route on cars with power that is not too large.
  2. Provides a large workload on the tire thereby further reducing tire life.

Type of Track After Turn

As mentioned earlier, the type of track after a turn will affect racing line taking. After what exit point turns? Is it a long straight, or will it turn right / left again?

For example, if we turn right then the trajectory after that will turn left. At this time, ideally we end the braking, take the late apex and after that take the right lane to get ready to turn left. Conversely, if we turn right then shortly then turn right again, then after the apex we better widen left.

In the picture above we can see the map notes included in the reference racing line that will be taken by the racer.

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