- How fast should I be offline before I start
- Getting off the grid (by Derek Bell)
- Visibility Ahead
- If you spin, both feet in
- Getting passed
Note: See also the excellent page, GPLAC
Recommended Driver Behaviour.
How fast should I be offline before I
start racing online?
The most important thing is not how fast you are, but how
well you can control your car, and how well you deal with traffic.
If you are smooth and reasonably consistent, and don't make a
habit of taking other people out, other drivers will be glad
to have you join them, no matter how fast or slow you are.
John Wallace says, "I
think the time you can run is not really relevant. If you can
run within 10-15% of the record time for that circuit then it's
definitely a bonus, but the key things are that you can drive
reasonably consistently (not falling off the track every other
lap) and that you pay attention to and respect the other people
on the track. If you do that 99% of drivers won't worry about
how fast or slow you are."
Alison Hine says, "I
figure it's worth it to get into some online races as soon as
you can keep the car on the track and going reasonably fast.
If you can run fairly consistently and you keep it on the track
pretty well, give it a go online. Keep a sharp eye on your mirrors,
and let the fast guys through when you see them coming."
Joel Willstein says, "You
don't have to be one of the fast pack to win at most tracks.
You just have to be consistent and stay out of trouble. I can't
tell you how many races I've won or placed in the top 3 when
I qualified near the rear of the grid just by staying out of
trouble. As an example I've seen big pile ups at the front of
the grid,and found a way around it. Look for opportunities."
Michael Carver says, "The
key word for racing online is 'consistency'. However, the only
thing that you should not be consistent at is overdriving your
skill level. If you can consistently run laps and keep your car
under control, you will already be better than many of the faster
drivers running online.
"If you can run your
own race, racing online will only help you drive faster. There
is no better place to hone your racing skills than on the track
with other sim-racers. The only folks that aren't appreciated
online are those that are always wrecking themselves and causing
others to be caught in their mistakes. Or those that consistently
overdrive their cars and run into others because they can't keep
their car under control when they are attempting to pass.
"Remember that the race
is not won when the green flag drops, but when the checkered
flag is waved. You should also know that, except for a gifted
few, we have all been in the same position as you are now.
"So get online, watch
your mirrors and the heed the flag marshals, enjoy and learn."
We strongly suggest you practice with the Advanced and/or
Basic Trainers and then try to get into some "F2" and
"F3" races on VROC (see Racing
the Trainers). These are excellent venues for developing
your tactical skills, refining your line and your braking points,
and improving your car control.
The "F2" and "F3" races also can provide
extremely enjoyable racing experiences. The frustration factor
is lower, and the fun factor is high.
And read the rest of this page!
Getting off the grid
Derek describes racing in the Tasman series in '68\'69 with
people who were "a lot of laughs...."
"...But there were also some serious
moments, one of which has stuck vividly in my mind. I've referred
back to it on many occasions since.
"It concerned an incident on the
grid at Teretonga (NZ)...I was on the second row of the grid
behind Chris (Amon) and Jochen (Rindt), while Graham (Hill) was
right behind me on row three. I was still really a raving young
Formula 2 driver and, when the flag dropped, I just let the clutch
in with a bang. Jochen appeared to move at the same moment, but
the Lotus only lurched forward a few feet. It had broken a drive
"Of course, I just slammed into
the back of him. Boom! he shot forward again, so I dipped the
clutch thinking that he was really starting this time. Boom!
I hit him again, vaulted over one of his rear wheels and was
away.....Despite the fact that the impact had deranged the suspension,
I still managed to finish fifth.
"After the race, Jochen didn't
say a word. It was Graham who raised the subject. We were sitting
at a party that same evening and he said casually, 'What the
hell were you up to today?'. So I tried to make a joke of it
"Oh I was trying to get rid of
your team-mate,' knowing full well that there was some aggro
between him and Jochen.
"Graham just fixed me with a stare.
'It's not funny,' he said firmly, 'it's just stupid. If I'd let
my clutch out as well there would have been the most monumental
accident. You don't just go when the flag comes down, you go
when the bloke in front of you goes.'
"After a moment's reflection, it
all seemed very obvious. I always remembered that comment and
have reminded various young drivers, including my son.....You
can't win the race on the starting grid, but you certainly can
lose it with manoeuvres like that!"
- Derek Bell, "My Racing Life" (pgs. 30-31)
Thanks to Christopher Snow for this contribution.
Michael Carver points out another consideration unique to
online racing, one which significantly impacts the start and
the first few laps when you are racing online:
"Keep in mind that if you don't
qualify on the first few rows, you won't see all of the cars
ahead of you on the start. You will only see 5 cars ahead. So
take heed of the cars you can see and let them be your 'canary
in the coal mine'. If they let up or suddenly take a different
line, odds are they are seeing a car that you can't see due to
the bandwidth limitations of online racing. Don't be stupid and
attempt to take advantage of their slowing or moving off line
on the first few laps. Odds are they are making a move to avoid
an incident involving cars that are not registering to you as
"You may also want to read the
advice on starts and other matters at GMSS's Dodger Denske's School of Online Racing."
If you spin, both feet in
One of the first rules that most racing schools teach is "if
you spin, both feet in", or a variant on the theme. What
this means is that if you lose it, dump the clutch (so you won't
stall the engine) and lock the brakes.
In GPL, we don't need to dump the clutch because the engine
never stalls. But locking the brakes is critical. Failing
to do so is one of the most common mistakes made in online races.
The reason for locking the brakes is this: when a car is spinning
and its wheels are turning, it will follow a random path as the
wheels alternately grip and slide. This makes it extremely difficult
for an approaching car to predict which way it will go, and to
take appropriate avoiding action. The result is a much increased
risk of a crash.
On the other hand, if you lock the brakes once you realize
you've lost it, your car will follow a predictable path: it will
go straight on from that point, sliding away from the center
of the corner on a tangent to the arc it was following when you
started to lose it.
This gives the other drivers a much better chance to avoid
a collision. If you're sliding toward the edge of the track,
they can slip underneath. You can - hopefully - recover from
the spin and continue unharmed. Even if you crash, at least you've
given the drivers behind you a chance to avoid being taken out
by your mistake.
One other advantage to locking the brakes is that when the
brakes are locked while the car is spinning, if the rate of rotation
is not too high, the cars in GPL will tend to rotate so the car
is pointing in the direction of travel. This can be a very useful
timesaver in recovering, particularly from a slow or partial
Learning how to be passed is one of the most important things
to learn about any kind of racing, and one of the first things
you'll need to learn how to do online. If you learn how to do
this well, you'll save yourself time and aggravation - and you'll
earn the respect and appreciation of the fastest drivers.
This is particularly important if you're being lapped, because
there is a greater speed differential between you and the leaders
than there is between you and the people who are running about
Technically it's the overtaking driver's responsibility to
find a way by. Racing schools tell you to hold your line and
let the other driver choose where and when to pass.
However, in practice you'll find that it's a significant advantage
to learn how to let a clearly faster driver go by while losing
minimal time yourself. If you're about to be put a lap down,
there's no point in racing with the leaders; you have nothing
to gain and everything to lose.
If you - unintentionally or otherwise - hold up someone who
is fast enough to lap you, at best you'll frustrate the other
driver. More likely, he or she will barge past you at the first
hint of an opportunity, leaving you scrabbling for grip way off
line as you are forced to modify your plan for the corner at
the last second, since the other driver has taken the piece of
track you were expecting to use. This can cost you literally
seconds. Worst case, you'll both wind up off the track, upside
down and in flames...and those may not be the only flames you
On the other hand, if you learn how to neatly let the leaders
through while losing minimal time yourself, not only will you
help them out (and nurture friendships which may prove to be
very rewarding) but you can turn the humbling experience of being
lapped into a tactical advantage by losing less time than the
less savvy racers you're battling with.
Here are some tips on being overtaken:
When a significantly faster car comes up behind you, don't
let off suddenly and try to dart out of the way. Instead, hold
your normal line. If the faster car can go by easily, it will.
If not, as soon as you come to a reasonably long straight,
accelerate hard out of the corner, and then ease over to one
side. If possible, take a clue from the overtaking car in your
mirrors; if it moves left, ease to your right, and vice versa.
Then, once you're sure the overtaking car is off to one side,
ease out of the throttle a little - not a lot, just enough
to let the other car get past you easily.
Once it's moved ahead of you, go back to full throttle, and
if the other car gets well ahead before the next corner, ease
back onto your line. If it's still close, however, stay off line
a little so you don't ram it if you brake a little too late.
The key here is to avoid sudden moves - no darting, no sudden
lifts or jamming on the brakes. As you get good at this, you'll
find you can let another car by and slot right back in behind
it, losing an almost negligible amount of time. You may even
be able to draft on it a little, gaining further advantage over
the cars you're racing with. Just be sure not to brake too late
and hammer it in the gearbox at the next corner!
We strongly recommend you take advantage of the "F2"
and "F3" races on VROC to develop your tactical skills.
These use the Advanced and/or Basic Trainer; see Racing
As in real life racing, cleanly overtaking another car of
similar speed is one of the most difficult things there is in
GPL. The most important rules of passing are:
- Don't hit the car you're passing
- Be patient
- Practice alternate lines
- Be patient
- Don't hit the car you're passing
A very important tactic which helps enormously with Rules
number 1 and 5 is this: Do not enter a braking area immediately
on the tail of another car! The only possible exception
to this is if you know the other driver very well and absolutely
know that you can trust him or her to brake at exactly
the same spot every time - and you can do the same yourself.
Since this almost never happens, if you are close to another
car, make it a rule to ease off to one side as you near the end
of the straightaway. By the time you enter a braking area, have
at least a car width lateral separation. This way, if the other
driver brakes a little earlier than you expect or if you make
that rare mistake and brake a little late, you won't ram it instantly
up the backside. You'll have a chance to save the situation,
and if the other driver brakes more than a little early, you'll
have a pass ready-made for you without even trying.
Plus, if you keep doing this, the other driver will think
you are setting him or her up for a pass, and she may get nervous
and wind up making a mistake that does the passing job for you.
Clearly, in order to know where you must brake when you are
off your normal line, you will need to know where your braking
point is. You will need to have practiced this beforehand. Racing
with the AI can be a very useful way to do this. Turn
down the AI strength so you'll have lots of slower cars to
pass, and go at it. Or, if you have the discipline, drive around
the track entirely on one side, and work up to the fastest you
can go. Make a mental note of your braking points. Then do the
same on the other side. Try other lines as well; try to find
ways to enter and exit corners using unconventional lines that
don't lose you much time.
And when you're actually racing with other humans, be patient!
Humans have a weakness that is lacking in the AI drivers. Humans
get nervous. If you sit patiently on someone's tail for lap after
lap, looming in their mirrors, it's a very rare driver who will
not eventually let the pressure get to him or her. Sooner or
later, a mistake is almost certain to happen. If you're lucky,
it will be a big one and the other driver will just slide off
or spin harmlessly out of the way - but be ready to take avoiding
action if necessary.
Even if the other driver doesn't go off, a small mistake may
be enough for you to capitalize on. The mistake may cost the
other car a few miles per hour on the exit of a corner, giving
you a chance to set up for a pass entering the next corner. Or
the other car may slide wide going into a slow corner, giving
you an opportunity to dive inside - if you've practiced your
off-line braking points.