• Danny Lee

Sim Tutorial: Push Yourself In Slower Corners With A Fun 'RPM Bomb' Technique

Text below for transcript purposes. It really doesn't work very well on it's own but it's there for your benefit if you like to read the text!

Improving your sim racing happens when you take an honest look at your own technique and give it a good shake. If you can’t seem to gain any more time or if you starting to feel too comfortable, that just means you’re now overdue for one of those shake-ups. This article (and the video above accompanying it) is all about one of the many little mind tricks I use to get faster times and consistency and I’m certain that if you adopt this, you’ll be better off, too.

Whenever I play catch up to slower drivers, whether it’s because I’ve had a rubbish qualifying or I’m in a reverse grid event, time and time again it’s the smallest, wimpiest corners where I can gain the most ground on them. This tells me that the small corners may be getting overlooked - they may be small but the amount of time you can find through them is huge. By small corners, I’m referring to most of the tight 1st or 2nd gear corners and chicanes, all the examples in the video above are from Snetterton circuit which has multiple of these types of corners.

Tight corners like these (Seriously, watch the video) are often made safer and faster if you introduce a small amount of balancing throttle into them. Balancing throttle is the term I use for when you introduce a small amount of power through a turn just to maintain your car’s speed and steady it’s balance as you make the corner - it’s not coasting off the throttle which is losing speed, nor is it distinctly accelerating which is gaining speed, it’s a mild amount of throttle that holds your speed, the amount can vary but most of the time it’s somewhere between 10% and 50% throttle.

So, what I observe about slower drivers is that they drop to lower apex speeds in the middle of these tight turns and complexes. Yeah, I know, duh - but let me explain. If you’re slowing down more than I am during these slow sections, this is usually because you’ve gone round that corner time and time again and found that if you go any faster, it feels unsafe. If your car is nervous, so are you, and this means you’ll be slower than your true potential. Alternatively, you may find that the car doesn’t want to make the turn if you enter a particular corner any quicker than you are doing - don’t be fooled, we lose count of ways that the fastest guys can somehow corner harder than it seems possible to do, so keep an open mind to trying new things, race cars are full of hidden speed.

So here’s the so-called mind game that I use - to this day - to try and trick myself into finding extra speed and if you’re at the lower end of the pace scale it could be the tip you need to take chunks out of your times. In slow 1st and 2nd gear corners, listen closely to your engine revs and challenge yourself to keep the engine tone as high as you can whilst still making the turn. Or to put it another way, a bit like the film 'Speed', imagine you’ve got a bomb on board and it’ll explode if you drop below, say 5000 rpm or something, so you need to keep the engine revs from dropping below that imaginary mark. Now, I’m not saying watch your rev counter, having a specific number in mind is not the point, but what this imagined danger will do is it will trick you into experimenting with the throttle earlier than you normally might in order to stop the engine revs falling too much and setting off the imaginary bomb and killing you and your passenger, Keanu Reeves. By focusing on the sound of the engine, your right foot has an alternative signal with which to react, rather than focusing just on the visuals and the force feedback. For many, this could be their new favourite marker.

Sounds stupid, but it absolutely works to help me scratch the surface for a little more speed by encouraging me to introduce and hold throttle a moment earlier than the lap before until I’ve found the new limit. I’ll also start playing this mental minigame during a race if I’ve lost my aggression and the pace is slowing down, it’s a good way to refocus and get back up to pace. It’s also essential to use your Lap Delta display when doing this, so you can see how the increase in average speed gains you time.

The whole point of this engine revs explode-y bomb trick is to get you to experiment and see if you can carry a touch more speed at the apex of certain corners than you have been up until now, by framing it in a fun way without any technical jargon - instead, you’re just challenging yourself to see if you can hold the engine note a little higher each time until you find a new limit. Just like how trailbraking gives you the ability to go faster coming into a corner, balancing throttle can help you travel faster in the middle of the corner, and set you up well for putting the power down on exit. The stabilising effect of the subtle engine load you introduce can also give you more confidence. Here’s some explanation as to why a little throttle goes such a long way.

If you go around corners without using balancing throttle, it’s both slower and trickier, because as you continue to lose speed the weight of the car is still mostly right over the nose, making the lightened back end of the car feel nervous - at low speeds with little downforce to help you, it can feel really loose. In most race cars there is a crucial component called the rear diff that changes the way the rear of the car feels depending on whether or not throttle is being applied, and how much.

Instead of coasting through a slow turn, if you time some balancing throttle just before you’re about to clip the apex, you’ll find that the rear grips the track and balances the car, making you feel safer and more stable throughout the turn. Not only that, but instead of scrubbing off too much of that valuable speed as you turn, you’ll hold your speed where it is, and although it’s often just for a moment, it will still raise your average speed throughout these corners when compared to other drivers around you that don’t do this. Average speed isn’t the flashiest of things to think about but if you want to go faster, it’s the most important thing of all.

Here’s one way to visualise the benefit that balancing throttle has on your speed throughout slow corners. Normally I see people decelerate quickly to meet the corner, then once at the apex they’ll start to accelerate quickly out of the turn. With balancing throttle, this dip in speed as you approach the apex can be cut out entirely with no drawback. It’s free lap time, there for the taking, but only if you think to look for it.

If you try this for the first time, you will initially be fighting your instincts to start easing throttle in much earlier than you might normally. If you use a little too much power, the car will run wide on exit, or you’ll spin, depends on the type of car being used, so if either of that happens, calm it down a bit and try again with less gusto next lap. If you manage to apply the ideal amount of throttle with good timing, you will carry a couple of miles per hour faster apex speed without having changed your racing line. With practice, you will apply it widely and accurately, and other drivers will be looking at you wondering how you’re doing it.

Just try the imaginary engine rev exploding bomb trick and see if it helps you - it’s a fun confidence aid which is intended to give your habits a bit of a shakeup and it always works for me when I think I’ve gotten the best time I can, there’s always a little more to be found in the slower sections using this trick. I’ve been doing sim racing for many years and I will still use this technique in practice and during races.

Let me know if this method works on you, I always love to hear when people have found my takes helpful, pop a like and subscribe on the Youtube video and you’ll be helping me in turn. Thank you!

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