If there have been a Venn diagram for the problem that racecar drivers and groups face to maximise their collective efficiency, it will be comprised of two circles. One can be automotive setup. The opposite can be driver ability. The intersection of the 2 could possibly be known as “the considering zone,” the purpose the place engineering and expertise meld seeking the final word lap time. And for AIM Vasser Sullivan Racing drivers Frankie Montecalvo and Townsend Bell, that considering zone begins earlier than they even climb inside their Lexus RC F GT3 racecar.
By each activate a race observe, treasured time and velocity will be discovered, however they will also be misplaced. On the restrict, there’s little tolerance for errors, and the extra demanding a sequence of turns, the extra there’s to lose – or achieve.
One instance is the run between Flip 1 and Flip 4 at Virginia Worldwide Raceway.Flip 1 traces a protracted arc to the precise till Flip 2 adjustments the path and leads right into a tightening left-hand Flip 3, earlier than a last and abrupt change of path again to the precise at Flip 4b. To be fast by right here requires impeccable timing and restraint.
An excessive amount of too early will power the driving force into injury management mode over the remainder of the sequence, nearly losing the entire lap because it’s adopted by a protracted, quick part.
“Getting that set of corners proper is the important thing to a superb lap at VIR,” Montecalvo explains. “As soon as I’ve had a session on observe within the RC F and analyzed the info, then I’ll begin to visualize how I implement what the info is telling me so I can obtain the goal time on observe.
“After I’m making an attempt to suppose my means quick, I begin on the brake zone, visualizing not simply after I brake, however after I spike the brake after which launch the stress and transition to energy. It’s not nearly when to get on the facility, however how a lot to feed in – particularly popping out of Flip 1 and into Flip 2. The extra laps you’ll be able to flip in your head, the extra it turns into muscle reminiscence in order that once you’re within the racecar, there’s no must suppose. It’s simply taking place.
“We’re so spoiled with information as a result of we will see the theoretical goal time for every a part of the observe,” he provides. “So that you nearly know what’s attainable, however the actuality is that issues like visitors or tire put on are by no means superb sufficient to hit it. The info evaluation and the visualization that we do earlier than the session is what permits us to seek out the restrict each lap.”
We’ve all seen photographs of racecar drivers, eyes closed, fingers reaching out to show an invisible steering wheel whereas they drive the observe of their thoughts’s eye. As Frankie Montecalvo notes, energetic visualization between observe classes will be key to maximizing his efficiency within the No. 12 Lexus RC F GT3 racecar. However even earlier than he will get to the race observe, Montecalvo’s teammate, Townsend Bell, makes use of a driving simulator to get within the groove.
“Simulators are actually the brand new visualization method,” says Bell. “I’ve solely began utilizing one often this yr, and the advantages are big.
“Largely, it comes all the way down to operating constant laps within the sim on the observe we’re racing at subsequent, and constructing the muscle reminiscence for all the important thing factors of the observe. The extra laps you do, the extra really feel you’ll be able to construct, not only for braking and throttle factors, but additionally for a way a lot enter is required.
“When that turns into ingrained, it ramps up how briskly we will rise up to hurry once we get into the racecar on the observe. And since most everyone seems to be utilizing a simulator, the extent as an entire has gone up dramatically. So, we’re seeing actually quick lap instances proper out of the field on each race weekend.”