Note: Replay and Setup can be downloaded at the end of the post.
It’s been a long time since I did a track guide, but there have been many reasons, the most important being that I had corrupted sound in GPL which would’ve been inappropriate to record onboard laps with.
Karlis had asked me to do a guide for East London before the Novices race there the coming Tuesday, so here it is!
A Look at the Track
Despite the simple layout of the track, it’s quite technical and driving skills always make a difference, compensating for any chassis handicap you may have to deal with. The lap flows nicely and you can really go for it once you get into a rhythm.
What’s probably the most important thing is to avoid braking too late going into corners as that costs big amounts of time, and can easily lead to an off at the hairpins. The sooner you begin to apply throttle, without sliding excessively, the more speed you can carry all the way until the next corner and that’s what gains you the most time here.
As always, setting up the Honda was a tricky business, but I didn’t really put much effort into it, so I can’t complain with the result – it felt quite good. The two important bits are having stable car under braking and being able to apply a lot of throttle without the frontend pushing out too much.
The Honda, with its weight balance shifted more towards the front, requires a stiffer front suspension and that’s what I went for in my setup. Tires are not much of an issue here, so just getting the cambers and pressures to give me equal temps all around worked well enough.
Gearing is crucial and it was a bit of a problem getting that right, and I still believe it can be improved with more testing, but it also depends on each driver’s pace as to how quick they can go through corners and thus the top speed they’ll reach down the straights.
Onboard Lap of East London
A link for the track map from the GPL Track Database website:
T1 Potters Pass – very difficult corner and crucial one if you’re to do a fast lap. It’s really important to be rather cautious going into it than overshoot it and go wide, because the time loss by doing the former is minimal and can be compensated with earlier acceleration.
The turn-in point is blind, just as you go over the crest, and with 65 cars it requires almost no braking, just a lift up, changing down a gear, tapping the brake for a moment perhaps, and letting the car rotate to the right. Don’t get off the throttle completely or if you have to, get back onto it ASAP, to prevent the car from drifting to the side too much.
T2 Rifle Bend – just a flat out corner, but make sure to turn in early and thus avoid having to turn the steering wheel too much, but rather just let the roll of the frontend carry you through the corner. The more you straighten this corner and the least amount of movements you do, the less speed you’d lose.
T3 Cocabana – braking late gains you time here, so it’s important to maximize it as much as possible. Use that blue pole on the right as a reference point, braking before it goes out of view, then just do a regular braking effort in a straight line, going down the gears.
I was a bit cautious on the lap in my replay, but you can delay your turn in a bit more so you can straighten out the exit better. Even so, don’t go too deep into the corner as you’d have to slow down even more initially to get back towards the apex and it’s very important that you hit the apex, but avoid climbing up the curb.
Just draw a nice smooth round line around the corner and don’t be impatient with throttle application – the less you unsettle the car here the faster you’ll accelerate out of the corner. Having a slightly longer gear helps here, as you won’t have to feather the throttle too much, but don’t let the revs drop under the optimal torque of your car’s engine.
T4 Butts – I’m not going to question the name of that corner as I don’t think I want to hear the history behind it, but it’s important that you don’t take it wide as it is what sets your car before the braking zone for the following chicane, and that’s very important.
Turning earlier, even crossing over the apex a bit, helps to have a straight diagonal line towards the next corner and that allows you to brake more efficiently without having to deal with an unstable rear.
T5 Esses – there’s a tree on the left which is quite convenient as it works perfectly as a braking marker, so brake just before it goes out of view and make sure you’ve gone down to your gear of choice before you reach the first apex, so you can transfer all your focus on trail-braking and taking a good line.
It helps to climb up the curb a bit so you can carry more speed and just let the car decelerate smoothly towards the middle of the track as much as you can. Avoid running wide before the next left, so you can take a faster line through it and thus accelerate sooner for the next short straight.
The rear tends to step out here, so be ready to apply some opposite lock instead of lifting up as you go through the slight left-hand kink that follows the chicane. Be careful not to go too much to the right and step onto the grass as that would put you in a lot of trouble for the next corner.
T6 Cox’s Corner – see that tent far to the left, behind the crowds? You can use that as a braking marker or you can use your car’s revs if you feel comfortable with that. I braked a bit too late on my lap here and thus ran a bit wide on the entry, so try to avoid doing that, but rather keep a tight line as you drift around the, aiming for a middle apex and delaying your acceleration. This is necessary so you can avoid running wide and thus sacrifice your line into the next medium-fast right-hander, so the optimum line is through the middle of the track (again, unlike on my replay) and getting as far to the left as possible before the next turn.
T7 The Sweep – I really like this corner! You can gain a good amount of time if you’re brave here and manage to carry more speed into and out of it. The trick to this corner is to turn in early and slow down at the same time. It may feel like you’re going slower than you could, but that really helps to transform the better line into earlier acceleration, straighter line on the exit and thus higher exit speed.
The most tricky part is when exactly to apply full throttle and it depends on a lot of factors – car, setup, line and speed from the previous turn, confidence and so on. Similarly to T1’s point of acceleration, there are no real reference points here, so just practice it and get your own feeling for this corner.
T8 Beacon Bend – a corner that’s very similar to T3, but just a bit quicker and with a wider exit. There is a pole on the right side before the corner which you can use as a braking reference point (check in the video or replay).
Again as with T3, brake hard in a straight line, then trail-brake into the corner without going too wide, and aim to straight-line the exit as much as possible, without sliding or drifting wide. Despite the track opening to the left there, it’s best not to use all of it but rather accelerate in a straighter line, as any sideways movement in 65 cars loses them a lot of speed, particularly those with weaker engines (Cooper, BT7).
Replay and Setup Downloads
Here’s a download link for a ZIP file with the replay of my lap and the setup I used: