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In this week’s Insider’s Guide, Yorkie065 takes you on a crash course on how to actually avoid struggling while getting to grips with a new track.

Top down or build up?

Drivers learn new tracks in many ways. There are the so-called “top down” drivers who will get right on the limit from lap one, and learn the track by a negative process of spin, spin some more, understeer off, take too much speed into apex, brake way too late, then too early, and repeat until they find the limit.

Other drivers will use the build-up technique where they start slow and build up speed gradually.

For Yorkie065, taking it slow initially is actually the most effective way of learning how to be quick on any track. There are a lot of reasons for this: not crashing and restarting a hundred times being just one of them!

Building up speed gradually means the driver can spend some time analyzing the track details. This is important because what you’re looking for at this point is possible brake marker boards, visual reference points (lampposts, trees, barriers, ad boards), and other markers that can be used as brake reference points, turn-in points, or even perfect apex-clipping points.

Kerb types are much easier to see at slow speed; some can be used to shorten the a corner, while you may want to avoid others completely due to their size and/or shape, which could unsettle the car if hit at speed. Learning which kerbs you can and can’t take is best experienced at somewhere below the speed required to send you off into the nearest wall.
The slow build-up also involves creating a picture of the track in your mind: once you have a picture of each corner, then it’s time to build up speed, starting off at a reasonable pace, and using safe braking points at first. Remember that even at the limit, slow-in, fast-out is the one overall defining mantra to finding pace.

Pay attention, at this point, to your lines; some corners can be sacrificed, others may require a late turn-in. This is also an ideal time to begin playing around with your gears. Sometimes a higher gear will afford stability both into and on the exit of a turn, and you’ll need to trade-off max acceleration for max grip. Remember that a higher gear—albeit it one that keeps whatever car you’re driving in its power band—is usually faster than losing time by getting bogged down by unnecessary wheel spin or hitting the limiter on the exit. On top of that, many cars like to be driven with “momentum”; the speed you’re able to maintain mid-corner is crucial. You make be the best of the late brakers, and you may even be early on the throttle, but if you’re sacrificing loads of speed mid-turn, you’re still going to leave that turn a net loser.

Once you’re comfortable with the track and your lines in the dry, it’s time to test in the wet. A track can change a lot between wet and dry in Project CARS 2. Discovering where water begins to pool on a track is crucial because not only will you need to alter your ideal lines and swap them for lines that see you avoid puddles of water, but hitting a puddle when you’re deep on your brakes is generally going to end only one way—a big off.

Run in the wet until you’re comfortable with where the track is wettest, and where the drying line will emerge, will give you that extra edge over your opponents.

Learning a new track is more than just knowing which way it goes; it’s about knowing its details. With that, knowing where you can pass, where you can make a difference as a driver, and, in traffic, and being able to recognize your markers in an instant becomes a whole lot easier and ultimately, is what will make you consistent and fast.

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