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Race Driving Fundamentals: Defensive Lines

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Defensive Lines


00:00 - So you've made a couple of hero passes during a race, that's great but now comes the next challenge, you're going to need to do everything you can to stop your opponents from taking back those positions.
00:10 Besides driving fast of course, this means understanding and mastering the defensive driving line.
00:16 Before getting into the line itself though the first thing we need to do is make sure we understand the rules around what is and isn't allowed in our particular race series.
00:26 Different organisations often have different regulations when it comes to defense but with that said, the most common rule we see is that a driver is allowed to move on a straight only once to cover their line into the next corner but it's up to you to figure out exactly what's allowed for you particular series.
00:43 Knowing and understanding the defensive rules is crucial, it's going to help us plan carefully when and where we should drive a defensive line.
00:51 It's important to weigh up our circumstances and whether or not we should defend our position in the race as well as how many laps are left.
00:59 Let's say it's a race that only has a couple of laps to go and it's a competitor we're confident we can hold out.
01:05 This is really the time to cover your line and hold that position.
01:09 You may be wondering now, wouldn't I always want to hold my position at all costs at any stage of a race? The answer is no.
01:17 If we find ourselves in a position in a longer race where there are 10 to 15 laps or more remaining and the opponent we're defending seems much faster, we're actually better not to cover our line and let the other competitor go.
01:29 I know this sounds counter intuitive but we do this so that we can hook in behind the faster car and let them tow us up to the next bunch of cars using slip stream, rather than aggressively defending which has the effect of slowing both ourselves and the faster car down, only to have them pass perhaps five laps later when we've completely cooked our tyres trying to defend our position.
01:52 Like anything, this does need to be flexible because it's all dependent on our situation on track.
01:58 We might be trying to fight for a championship win with 30 minutes to go in an enduro for example.
02:02 In that situation, of course we'd block the car behind and not worry about track positon, knowing that we need to stop the opponent passing us at all costs.
02:11 So what exactly is a defensive driving line? This is a line that's going to help us cover the chance of a car sneaking up on the inside and passing.
02:21 Essentially we're compromising the attacker's line.
02:24 Let's look at an example.
02:26 Here's our test corner once again and here's our typical line that we'd drive through the corner if we didn't need to defend.
02:33 This would be the sort of line we'd drive in qualifying or of there's nobody immediately behind us.
02:39 The problem with this ideal line is that it leaves the door wide open on the inside of the corner for a competitor to attempt to pass.
02:46 In order to defend our position, we're not going to be able to take this ideal line and instead what we're going to need to do is move the car over towards the inside of the corner as we get towards the braking zone.
02:57 This then forces the attacker to either slow up or pull back to the outside of the corner.
03:02 The downside of doing this is that we make the corner far tighter than we would if we'd followed the race line and that means we have to slow the car up more than we'd like to to get it rotated which also compromises our run out of the corner.
03:15 Like we mentioned before, this doesn't just slow us up but also the car behind that we're defending.
03:21 When we go on the defensive we also spend more time looking in the mirrors and this then means we'll naturally end up being slower.
03:28 Even if the car that's catching up isn't close enough for us to start driving the defensive line.
03:33 Always remind yourself, unless there's a car right behind you that you need to defend, do your best not to spend too much time looking in the mirrors.
03:41 We can run the best defensive line possible but that doesn't mean the car behind is going to play ball and there's plenty that can be done to get around your defence if we're not careful.
03:52 With this in mind, it's a good idea to think about covering yourself from cars doing what we call a switchback or undercut.
03:59 This is when the car behind stays out wide on the correct racing line, while we're covering on the inside narrow line.
04:05 The car that's behind can then rotate higher and earlier, allowing more acceleration earlier on in the corner exit to get the undercut or in other words drive right past us.
04:16 So where possible, the trick here, as the car defending, is to stop our car just a little more at the apex so that the car behind has to wait for us to get on the throttle before they can.
04:26 This then stops the opponent from completing the undercut because both cars still have the same apex point.
04:33 In summary, before even heading out for your first practice, you need to have a clear understanding of the rules around defending in your particular race series as they're not always the same.
04:43 Knowing these rules will help you plan your defensive strategies and it's important to understand that being on the defense at all times is often not the best approach as it results in slower driving for both you and your competitor.
04:56 Sometimes you need to let the attacker through and use their extra speed as a tow up towards the next group of cars.
05:03 Defending is all about making smart calculated decisions.
05:07 Holding onto your position at all costs is only a smart idea near the end of a race where there's not much opportunity that you'll be able to make back the position by the time you roll past the checkered flag.

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