DSC_5016Driving race cars on the limit is a challenging activity. Add in variable track and weather conditions, plus other cars sharing the same piece of road, and it becomes a constantly changing and formidable task. Most of the time we get it right, and everyone is able to keep to their own piece of the track. Occasionally though, cars come in contact.

Contact between cars is obviously undesirable, and something that is not taken lightly by officials. There are some simple things to keep in mind though to help keep you out of strife, and ensure you're operating in the spirit of the Independent Race Series and maintaining harmony with your fellow competitors and respective their and your own investment.

Avoid contact in the first place

Seems pretty obvious, and the most effective way to do this is never to overtake anyone - obviously that is not a workable solution (nor one that we would encourage), so a better approach is needed.

Know your fellow competitors. You can start working on this before you even line up on the grid for a race. Other drivers racing line, braking points and on track demeanour will certainly be subtly different to your own. You can observe these things in practice and qualifying sessions, and you should work to build a mental database of what to expect from your competitors when you encounter them on track. Knowing what to expect from them will mean you are prepared if you see the other guy brake a little earlier, or turn in a little later. It will help you be ready for it, take advantage of it, and avoid contact.

Know the track. When you are practicing, as well as just learning the fastest way around a circuit, look for good, effective overtaking places. Generally you'll be looking for somewhere you can get a better run out of the preceding corner or a tow on the straight, to set yourself up in a favorable position approaching the braking zone. A long braking zone is good, and you'll also want a section where you can make the pass stick (where you can exit the corner firmly in the lead and pull a small gap on the next section). Sections like this are rare, so sometimes you need to look for the best compromise and file it away as one of your preferred overtaking places.

Know your car. The most important part of this is knowing your cars strengths relative to the competition. Is it lighter and nimbler? Or more powerful and stable? This will help you know where the best place to pass might be.

Know your limitations. If you consider all of the above, and know your own limitations: how late you can brake, how fast you can take each corner, how tight you can hold your line and so on, you should be able to successfully overtake without making contact.

Know when to back out. Sometimes you can line the perfect pass up, but the other guy doesn't see you, or is baulked by something out of your control - be on the lookout for this, and know when to play it safe and try the pass on the next lap, or on another corner.

If you make contact, apologise

The person you have made contact with may not always be in the most receptive mood, depending on the outcome (but hopefully you've applied most of the principles above, and the consequence of the contact was minor), but generally the sooner you can apologise, the more it means. If you gained an advantage on the circuit as a result of the contact, and you can redress the situation, do it as soon as you can - don't slam your brakes on in front of the other car, but blend out of the way and allow him back past (a good example of this can be seen here, where Daniel Flanagan inadvertently contacts Tony Grant and slows a couple of corners later to allow him back past).

If you have the chance to redress things during the race or not, you should always make the effort to apologise to the other driver in person.

Never make deliberate contact

Deliberate contact will not be tolerated in the Independent Race Series, you may receive anything from a warning to a complete ban from the series.

The role of the driver being overtaken

No racer likes to be overtaken, but there are a few things to keep in mind to minimize the likelihood of contact. Be aware of all the considerations mentioned above. Know what is going on around you - checking your mirrors will let you know if a car is gaining, the rate of closure should give you an idea if you should expect a move at the next corner. You're generally within your rights to defend your line, but you should not change your line once the other car has achieved an overlap. If you see another car going for a move that will clearly never work, sometimes it's best to just move aside for a moment and allow that car to go off on their own (rather than taking you with them).

Final thoughts

Racing is a tricky business. Racecars are expensive. Contact is something we should do our best to avoid, and if the worst does happen, apologise and endeavor to redress any advantage it may have gained you.

Most of all, remember these iRace principles:
We care about safety
We care about each other

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