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Race Driving Fundamentals: Wet vs Dry Lines

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Wet vs Dry Lines


00:00 - Driving quickly in the wet is a skill few people excell at.
00:03 The fastest line around the track in the wet is often very different to the dry racing line and that's because the rubber that builds up on the tarmac from race tyres becomes extremely slippery when wet.
00:15 The asphalt on the dry racing line also tends to take on a smooth or polished finish on a microscopic level thanks to thousands of tyres wearing it down over time.
00:24 This means that there's not going to be 1 single correct race line that'll be fastest at every corner.
00:31 Instead you'll find that it becomes important to experiment with different parts of the track in an attempt to find grip.
00:38 As a general rule though, you're likely to find this grip well outside the traditional dry racing line.
00:44 Finding the fastest race line in the rain comes with many variables.
00:48 Unfortunately it's not just as simple as saying just drive outside the normal line.
00:52 There are a lot of factors to take into consideration like the camber on the outside of the corner or hollows that form puddles or standing water which can cause aqua planing.
01:02 It's not only challenging exploring these things for each corner but what's going to work one lap might not work the next thanks to constantly varying conditions.
01:11 How much rain is falling or how fast the circuit is drying up for example.
01:16 This is where circuit knowledge becomes key and with this in mind, it's always a good idea to watch the fastest drivers and study their lines in differing conditions whenever possible.
01:26 Don't worry, we'll be looking closely at how best to do this and much more in the improving your driving section coming up next.
01:34 These constantly changing conditions also make it incredibly important to have the best possible vision out of the car.
01:41 This makes surveying the track for grip as conditions change much easier.
01:46 We want to keep a look out for drying lines so that we can explore and start leaning on the car a little harder to generate more speed.
01:53 Again this becomes much easier with experience so it's important when the track is wet that you get out there and gain valuable experience rather than sitting it out and waiting for the track to dry off.
02:04 You'll usually find that you'll learn more about driving on the limit in a single wet session than you will in an entire day in the dry.
02:12 Let's not sugar coat it, exploring for grip in the wet does add an extra element of risk.
02:17 When we're wide in a corner on the hunt for grip, there are all sorts of hazards just waiting to jump out and send us off into the grass.
02:25 Big puddles can suddenly appear in heavy rain that will have us instantly aquaplaning and surfaces that were already low in grip can now become much harder to spot and 5 times as slippery.
02:36 And due to these hazards generally being closer to the edge of the circuit, there's less time to gather the car up and save ourselves from leaving the track and ploughing through the kitty litter when it does go wrong.
02:48 Sometimes all of this exploring, looking for more grip works and we find ourselves the perfect little groove early on but other times we can end up losing too much time hunting for the sweet spots.
02:59 This is where standout drivers seem to be able to pick up where the best parts of the track are to run on in the wet within a lap or two.
03:06 Mastering this is tough so the first thing to focus on before we go exploring for grip is making sure that we're confident in controlling the car when it does start to break traction.
03:17 There's no substitute for experience here which is another good reason to embrace a wet test session rather than being afraid of it.
03:24 Once we have our confidence in our ability to control a loss of traction, the next step is to start finding the limits by increasing your speed in small increments and then pulling back just a touch from the edge because any loss of traction in the wet costs a lot of time.
03:40 We should always be trying to drive as fast as we can with minimal loss of traction of course, riding the rim of the traction circle no matter the weather but overstepping the limits happens so easily in the wet, even in a straight line, that it's tempting to just hold that slide or just deal with the wheel spin.
03:57 While it'll feel fast, it's really not and all of that loss of traction comes with a big cost once you add it all together at the end of a lap.
04:05 It's also important to understand that the loss of traction in the wet compared to the dry is not consistent in all directions.
04:12 What I mean by this is that you'll have a larger reduction in grip under acceleration and braking compared to cornering.
04:18 This requires a significant recalibration of how hard we can brake and accelerate compared to how much grip will be available mid corner.
04:27 A good place to start on a wet track is by avoiding the dry racing line entirely which is not overly intuitive.
04:33 Let's say we're approaching a corner and the dry racing line looks something like this.
04:38 Assuming we don't have puddles or standing water that would affect our decision, typically we'd approach the corner a full car width off the racing line.
04:47 This means that when we get to our braking point we're likely to have more grip available than we would on the rubbered up racing line that's now almost certainly slippery.
04:56 Obviously not using the entire width of the track will compromise our corner entry but finding more grip will usually pay dividends here.
05:04 What we're now going to do is continue braking In a straight line beyond the dry racing line so that we're again off the normal racing line when it comes time to rotate the car into the corner.
05:14 This is of course going to require a tighter radius turn than a conventional line but assuming we're able to find more grip out there, this will again still pay dividends.
05:24 In this example we're essentially running what would be a late apex line through a corner which will allow us to straighten the car up as soon as possible and get back on the throttle while avoiding as much of the dry racing line as possible.
05:37 Of course this is only one option for staying off the normal line and equally we could choose an earlier apex at the expense of corner exit.
05:45 To summarise, the dry race line should normally be avoided in the wet.
05:50 You're most likely going to find more speed by sacrificing the optimal line to instead find grip outside of it.
05:57 This all takes some trial and error so it's important to not sit out any wet practice sessions.
06:02 These are incredibly valuable in building up your driving skills.
06:06 It's important in the wet not to make assumptions about where the track will offer you grip and instead test to find where the grip is and which line is fastest.

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