Note: Replay and Setup can be downloaded at the end of the post.
After seeing many people struggle with driving at Adelaide and before the upcoming Novices race, I did a couple of runs in the last few days to record a good lap and make this track guide.
Although I used the BT7 initially, for which I had a good setup already and it didn’t took many laps to produce a decent lap, it was not the case with the Honda. I haven’t really driven it much, and the demands of this track are different so it took me a awhile to figure out a setup and driving style which worked consistently with that car.
A Look at the Track
The thing you notice immediately as you start driving the track are the very high curbs in some places and the different grip sections due to bumps and road camber changes.
The ideal line does not become obvious at first and until you actually learn to use the curbs more and more, your lap times are seriously compromised. Personally I don’t think it should be illegal to use the curbs and go through them, especially on some corner exits, as it’s actually the safer and easier thing to do once you figure out how to do it.
While the BT7 was fairly easy to set up, the Honda proved to be a very stubborn one in terms of both chassis and gearbox/engine. With the weight distribution moved slightly forward compared to the other cars, I found out that it’s better to have a stiffer frontend and softer rear, as it helps to keep the car balanced. You would expect it to understeer more as a result, but it actually works quite well.
The bump and rebound settings are fairly high to accommodate for all the curbs and bumps around the track, and I also like to set the rear ride height slightly higher to help the car turn a bit better. It also helps when you go over those high curbs.
Gearing is tricky to get right, because the Honda has such a narrow torque range, so despite having 6 speed gearbox, I wasn’t entirely happy with how its set, particularly 2nd gear which is used for many of the corners.
I was initially using 2nd for the hairpin as well, but found out that using a longer 1st and short-shifting up to 2nd works better. The only place for which 2nd gear seems to be a bit too long (and yet I can’t use 1st) is the last corner, and it often leads to some loss of control there as the revs drop too much and I can’t control the car with the throttle.
3rd gear is also a bit too long for some corners, such as Stag Hotel, and that’s why I prefer to take a slightly wider line to keep the revs high, as well as avoid the bad grip change in the inside of the corner.
Onboard Lap of Adelaide
The GPL Track Database provides our reference map:
T1 Chicane – this is a crucial corner for a good lap and you can gain a lot of time if you get it right, but it’s difficult to judge how much to risk going into it. It’s also difficult to take the line you want, as the braking is done while turning in and you need to position the car just right before it hits the curbs.
Before the corner, use part of the pitlane exit so you can brake later and carry more speed into the chicane, then brake gently and let the car decelerate and drift to the left towards the first curb.
The ideal line through the chicane is to ride both curbs, the first one slightly less than the second one, but this is also more difficult to do consistently because you’re faced with balancing the car over 2 curbs instead of 1.
Once you direct the car towards the first curb, avoid doing any sudden movements with your steering and pedals, and apply some throttle so the car is neither accelerating or decelerating as you go over the curb. Accelerate for a moment before you reach the second curb and then do the same, lifting up while you careful turn to the right, just enough to change the direction.
You can change up a gear as you go over the second curb if you want, then aim to come out of it in the middle of the track, so you can position yourself well for the following left-hand kink that leads onto Wakefield Road.
Now, unless you took a perfect line, it’s not possible to stay flat out all the way through the kink, so it helps to keep 2/3rs of throttle as you turn into the kink and then floor it just as you reach the apex. Otherwise you risk going wide into the wall on the outside. You can ride the curb on the inside slightly, but don’t overdo it.
T2 Wakefield Corner – the braking for this corner is very bumpy and there’s a slight crest before the corner, so it’s easy to lock up the front wheels and lose the straightline direction at which you’re going.
The braking point happens to be the marshall on the right, just after you pass the bridge construction, and a couple of meters before that tree on the left. Brake intensively in a straight line, changing down the gears, and begin to turn gradually into the corner once it comes into sight and you get near that small group of people on your right, just before the turn.
Delay your acceleration for until after you reach the apex and use the whole track width on the exit, then change up a gear (at least with 6 speed box) and quickly move to the right to prepare for T3.
T3 – this corner is slower than it appears and you can drift too wide if you don’t slow down enough, so brake at the first tree on the left side and turn-in early.
Aim for a late apex, but try to accelerate before you reach it. This requires rotating the car around in advance, almost as if you want to spin it, then step onto the throttle to catch the rear and exit the corner slightly to the left from the middle of the track. Avoid using the whole track width on the exit as that really compromises T4.
It really helps to go as much to the left as possible before T4, as it would allow you to carry more speed into it and accelerate earlier, which gains you additional speed down the next short straight.
T4 – this corner is longer than it appears and the lack of grip through most of its length requires that you slow down more and be patient and smooth with your throttle application, to avoid running wide onto the outside curb.
With a 6 speed gearbox it works better to stay in 3rd for this corner, so once you change up on the exit of the previous bend, turn in early, using the group of people on the left as a reference point, and keep deceleratng while you aim for a slightly late apex. You can start accelerating early, but as I said, do it gradually and slowly, to avoid running wide.
If you run wide and climb the curb anyway, you can short-shift into 4th (or 3rd in a 5 speed box car) to avoid being launched violently to the right as the rear goes up while you’re on the throttle.
T5 Markets Kink – this corner is not so difficult in 65 cars and is taken flat out, but you should be as smooth as possible, using the whole track width before the corner so you won’t be forced to turn too much and scrub off speed. Changing up a gear just as you turn into the first part of the chicane helps to settle the car and give some grip to the frontend.
You can safely ride the inside curb in the second part of the chicane, as the car rolls to the left because of the speed and your right wheels don’t play that much of a role to the overall grip level, plus it allows you to brake later for the following corner.
T6 Stag Hotel – this is one of the most difficult corners on the track. The first part of the corner is low grip, with less road camber, and it demands that you slow down a lot, but then the grip suddenly becomes higher, especially towards the inside next to the apex. I suspect it’s because of a camber change and that change is more severe on the inside of the corner, while it’s not so noticeable towards the middle and outside.
As I mentioned earlier, I like to take a slightly wider line with the Honda to avoid dropping the revs too much in 3rd gear (2nd gear is too short for this corner) and avoid that sudden grip change at the same time. In the BT7 I was taking the most inside line though, so it was necessary to do well-timed throttle push and steering wheel unwind at the moment the frontend gains grip, otherwise the car would simply spin around.
The benefit of taking the more inside line is that you don’t have to run wide and climb the outside curb too much, so it’s up to you to figure out which way works better for you.
In general, try to get onto the throttle earlier, so you can control the rear better in case you need to catch a slide.
T7 Brewery Bend – another tricky corner, which is definitely easier in slower cars such as BT7, because they don’t achieve as high speed as the Honda or other top cars before you reach the turn-in point before the corner, and thus demand less braking/deceleration.
I don’t use any particular reference point for turning into the corner, but the house behind the wall on the right seems to be a good choice.
It’s important to be on the throttle before the apex, so do all your deceleration (no matter how minimal) before the corner. Usually a slight lift up and a bit of brake to balance the car is all it takes, and your steering does the rest. Make sure to avoid climbing the inside curb.
Floor the throttle completely once you set the car towards the apex, and go over the curb on the outside, ready to steer the car back to the right after it lands, to avoid hitting the narrowing wall edge there.
If you carry too much speed into this corner and run wide too soon, you car usually gets launched up too high in the air and you have no time to avoid hitting the wall, so it takes a bit of practice to figure out which is the best position to exit the corner, and to know when you overdid it and lift up on time before it’s too late.
T8 Brabham Hairpin – the braking point I use for the hairpin is the grey tree which comes after the white tree on the right, soon after the beginning of the dark groove:
Whether you use 2nd or 1st gear for the hairpin depends on your car and setup, but I like to use 1st and short-shift to 2nd as I begin to accelerate.
Avoid running wide on corner entry and get as close as possible near the apex, so you can straight-line the exit instead of drifting wide and applying too much steering which would compromise your speed down the next straight.
T9 Racetrack Corner – at the kink before this corner, there is a small group of people to the left – use them as your braking mark and brake towards the right side of the track, getting right next to the curb before this left-hander.
It is necessary to turn-in early into this corner, as the grip is low and the car tries to drift wide. Aim for a slightly earlier apex and begin to accelerate just as you reach it, then use the whole track width on the exit, but avoid climbing the high curb.
T10 Racetrack Sweeper – the only thing you should do through this fast bend is to clip the apex so you can position yourself in a straight line for the braking zone before the last corner.
T11 Pit Hairpin – there are a couple of grip level changes through this hairpin and that makes it very tricky to judge your speed right. Aim for the middle of the road on corner entry and take a gradually closing line, but be careful as the car gains grip for a moment, then loses it again, before gaining it once more prior to the exit.
Gearing matters a lot for this corner, as it allows you to keep some throttle on all the time instead of letting the car roll on its own. That prevents the car front spinning or changing direction all of a sudden.
You can safely use some of the grass on the exit of the corner and it doesn’t seem to compromise your acceleration too much. You can also short-shift into upper gear if you find it difficult to control the rear as you open up the corner.
Replay and Setup Downloads
Here’s a download link for a ZIP file with the replay of my lap and the setup I used: