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Race Driving Fundamentals: Practical Discussion

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Practical Discussion


00:00 - We've just learned about simulators and again we're going to dive into a little bit more detail on the usefulness, what we can expect and maybe what we can't expect from sims.
00:10 So Andrew, there's levels to this stuff as usual, there's different software, different simulator software available and I first of all want to get away from the misconception that this is a game, we're not talking about Playstation here, this is an actual simulation and it is used by professional race teams to improve both the car setup as well as their drivers.
00:33 So two of the more common software packages that we see for simulators, iRacing and Assetto Corsa.
00:41 Can you briefly give us your perspective on pros and cons maybe, summing that up in just a handful of words? - Yeah it's a good way to look at is iRacing is, anything you do on iRacing with the cars and the tracks, it is very realistic.
00:55 When it comes down to the bumps, the corners, the car, they are very realistic.
01:01 Assetto Corsa, yes there are some really realistic things in there but take a little bit more of what's going on in that one with I guess a bit more of a grain of salt, yeah different ways to learn.
01:12 - Now from my own personal view here, the endurance series that we were racing in a couple of years back, required us to go to two tracks that I'd never driven at before.
01:21 And obviously testing time, we don't want to waste time learning the track.
01:26 One of the downsides with iRacing at least based in New Zealand, is there are no New Zealand tracks, they actually laser scan every track so it limits what tracks are available, if you're lucky to be in Europe or the US, you've probably got a lot more tracks available but that was where I had to use Assetto Corsa because they have user generate tracks.
01:46 Two of the tracks that we went to were Teretonga which is in the deep south island and then Ruapuna in Christchurch.
01:52 And that I found really useful for having a general sense of at least which way to turn coming out of pit lane but a general sense of the layout of the track and you can also learn where the key corners are, is that sort of a good way of using those simulator softwares? - Yeah I think it's a really good way, the amount of times I've been to tracks as well where you literally don't know which way turn one goes and you should never arrive at a track not knowing where the corners go, there's so many resources we have now and getting on the sim and knowing that the bump might not be right and the next curb, that might be on the sim, it's quite big, don't worry too much about that.
02:29 You're physically just there to learn which way each corner goes and you can pick quite a few things up so as you're saying when you get to the track, you're already a session ahead of a lot of people that have never been there.
02:39 - Yeah and I think just to reiterate this back to professional level as well, we visited Jota Sport in the UK a while back and they've got a very complex simulator that uses R Factor.
02:49 One of the events that they were competing in an LMP2 car in the US, the two drivers had never been to that track before and they were telling us they put, one of the drivers was based in the UK, he spent a full day on the sim and the other driver was already in the US, he couldn't get on the sim, the driver that had been on the sim, within 5 laps he was basically on the pace.
03:09 The other driver took a full 45 minute session essentially to get on the pace so that just shows the value of that.
03:16 From my own perspective, I've probably now written off close to a billion dollars worth of racecars on iRacing as well so it's a cheap way to build up your experience with relatively low repercussions for that.
03:28 But also there are some subtleties around here as well like just putting into action some of the skills that we've already learned or talked about during this course, such as trail braking and adjusting your braking markers so using something like iRacing, it's a very low risk way of actually starting to develop those skills? - Yeah I think one of the key things you said earlier on, don't treat it as a game.
03:51 Treat it as an extension of tools that you can use to become a better driver because even myself, I'm guilty of getting on it and treating it as a game here and there and you go out the pits with cold tyres and you end up having a moment but the more you get that out of your head and treat it as a proper tool, the better you go, the more you learn and work on that trail braking, work on all these things that we're talking about so when you get to the track, it does make a difference.
04:20 When you first get on a sim you think it's just so strange, how can this work to get me a better driver? Of course there's the differences but overall there are so many things you can learn once you get used to those differences initially, there's so many good takeaways and it is a very very good tool to become a better driver.
04:40 - I think just with practising those techniques as well, even though it is on a simulator, it helps to build up that muscle memory of that relationship for example trail braking, I've used that a couple of times but just that relationship between how we're adding lock and how we're releasing the brake and on the other side of the corner, how we're releasing the car from the corner and how we're starting to ease back into the throttle.
05:02 So doing that on the simulator, when you actually get onto the track, it's just going to be instinctive to us almost.
05:10 A little bit off the topic but I think it's just worth mentioning, obviously we can spend literally as much on a simulator setup these days as we can on a real racecar and obviously that's not in everyone's budget so from your own perspective, where do you think the places to focus your budget when setting up a sim are, what should we be looking at, is it the wheel is it the pedals, the shifter, the seat or the screen? - Yeah that's a great question, a lot of the things you can get for a sim, when you start upgrading you expect to jump on and be so much quicker because you've bought yourself a new set of pedals.
05:46 Yeah parts do make you a little bit quicker but what they build in is consistencies.
05:51 It's amazing how much, when you spend that money that consistencies become and you start getting that bit better feedback but some people get quite let down that you're not as fast.
06:00 But going back to your question of what parts to focus on, one of the most important ones is the brake setup, making sure you've got yourself a really good brake setup.
06:09 Full pedal setup I should say is making sure that's all correct but especially the brake is a good one and some of these, unless you start spending 100s of 1000s on motion setups, it's not worth too much going down that road, just making sure you've got a really good pedal setup, a good steering setup as well, that just builds in definitely consistencies rather than speed when you're talking that part.
06:32 - I think I'm in a pretty good position to sort of just double down on that as well because my own sim setup started out with a really basic pedal set and it just, it was a gaming style pedal setup, no real feel and it was difficult, particularly with braking on a car that had no ABS to try and get a sense of where that lockup point was.
06:54 We swapped that out for a set of SimWorks pedals which are basically a replica of the Australian Supercars pedal box setup and you've got that feel straight away that the very solid brake pedal, totally adjustable but solid brake pedal feel that you get with a pedal box, I could basically set that up to replicate the feel of our cars and straight away I could get that consistency and be really close to that lockup point lap after lap so that was really powerful.
07:21 I then moved from a pretty basic steering setup to a direct drive and while yes there was an improvement there, the improvement for the cost of the DD steering wheel versus the improvement with the pedals, pedals would 100% be the first place that I'd go.
07:36 - Yeah sure and there's so many different ranges now but the direct drive setups are definitely the way to go with that steering setup and yeah it is worthwhile investing in to just get those consistencies because it can get so frustrating on a sim when you're not getting it right and if you've got cheap gear, maybe that's all you can afford and yes there's still 100% a lot of advantages of learning the tracks bit be prepared for a few more frustrations but when you're buying that better gear, you're getting that more real life experience, you can feel those bumps of a track you're heading to if you're on iRacing because they're all built into it so yeah those are probably the better things to focus on.
08:11 - Yeah I think it's important just for our viewers to understand that if your budget is limited getting out there on a simulator with basic gear, there's absolutely nothing wrong with that.
08:22 And again just a little bit deeper than maybe we need to go, you just mentioned full motion rigs and again just my own experience talking to the guys at Jota Sport, so theirs was a non motion rig which I found was quite interesting.
08:34 At the time they actually had one of their drivers there for a seat fitting for the LMP2 car which was a test driver for McLaren F1 team and he said that at McLaren they had a full motion rig and it actually affected some drivers to the point that they got motion sickness and couldn't drive it and the other problem which I hadn't forseen is they actually needed to essentially dial the motion into the driver so that the driver could sense understeer and oversteer so it wasn't a one and done sort of setup where you could jump on that rig and you'd be fast so a little bit more to it maybe than most people think so don't think that a full motion rig is an absolute requirement.
09:13 Alright I think we've probably done simulators to death so it's time to move on.

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