Now that we’ve explored cornering theory, it’s time to take it out to the field. Here, we’ll take a look at actual race footage and dissect how good and bad decisions changed the ranking position of three pilots in a heated race lap on a tough course.
This is article is part of the advanced racing series. Each of the articles are linked from the Advanced Racing Introduction.
We’re going to walk through a race I participated in. I’m racing my local friends and tough competition: Jordan and Josh. This is a Spec class race, meaning all quads are fairly similar in weight and performance. It’s run with 3S batteries, so it’s a bit slower than many other races. This makes pilot skill the most important factor and cornering decisions become extremely important. The slower race style also makes it easier to scrutinize for this article, but these principles apply just as well to faster races. This article focuses on only the first lap.
If you watch full screen, it’s easier to see the other racers. Fair warning, the Runcam 2’s audio is terrible.
After you’ve watched the first lap at full speed, use YouTube’s speed adjustment feature (found inside the gear icon as of this writing, and only on desktop) to slow it to 1/4 (0.25) speed. Go back to 0:13. By 0:15, it’s obvious that the leader, Jordan, is going to pull away in the next corner. Jordan has already pitched over sideways and to the inside, while I’m still carrying much more speed leading into the turn and am bound to overshoot. Sure enough, before 0:17 comes along, Jordan is already through the gate while I’m 20ft beyond it and just starting to accelerate. At 0:16, Josh has taken the late apex line and is carrying much lot more speed through the corner exit, so he passes us both and gains a good lead.
Josh then takes a very wide line through the slalom, which allows both Jordan and I to catch up since we both take much tighter turns in the following section. I intentionally take a wider line before the last flag in order to push my apex later into the final turn, while both Jordan and Josh hit the apex earlier: see how tight they are to the flag at 0:21. They are both forced to greatly reduce their exit speed here, but I’ve carried much more momentum through.
The end result of this exchange at 0:22 is that we all come out nearly even. I am right behind Jordan, and though you can’t see Josh anymore, he actually collides with me at 0:23. Each of the gains and losses seen through this brief exchange have little to do with power and can be traced to choosing a better line in each corner. To reiterate the line from the introduction article: races are won and lost in the corners.
An incident with the top of the H-gate on my second lap puts victory out of reach for this race, but you can still see gains and losses against Jordan with each corner. In every case, they can be traced to who look the better line. Jordan is an exceptional pilot and talented tuner who is gets a lot of stick time, so I felt pretty good about the result. Take a look at of one of his flights from a different race on the same day. The difference to my flying that day is immediately apparent! While there’s some improvement to be had in choosing the line, it’s undeniable his quad goes exactly where he wants it. That’s the benefit of practice and experience.
That I can keep up with this kind of flying at all, though, shows just how much there is to gain from planning and sticking to the race line.
This wraps up our advanced racing series for now, but we hope to continue expanding the series in the future! Good luck out there.