I’ve only driven Dijon’81 in 67 cars before, so I had to do some laps in my good old BT7 to get acquianted with how the track goes and also get some setup dialed in. The track feels quite different in this little underpowered fellow than in the 67 beasts, so despite knowing my way around, it took some time to get used to the new braking, turn-in and acceleration points, and the amount of speed I can carry through corners.
Setuping for this track is not too difficult because the surface is rather smooth, as long as you avoid the curbs that is (and you better do!), but it’s worth pointing out that gear ratios are of crucial importance, especially in those uphill sections and through the long bends. Suspension-wise, I suggest a very stiff rear and a rather soft front, otherwise you’ll struggle in making the car keep its line in the never-ending right-handers that are the last corner and T1. I’m still omitting the corner names here, but it’s for your own good – they’re French and they’re as long as the corners themselves (or longer)!
Now, before I start with the lap, I’m quite sure these tips might not be 100% applicable for the more powerful cars, but the braking points (to some extent), the entry points and the lines should be the same. It’s up to you to adapt my experience to what you get out of driving your car of choice (or moderator’s choice, lol).
For reference, here’s a map of the track:
T1 Double droite de Villeroy – not only does the corner name fool you it’s an easy one to read and pronounce initially, but so does the approach to it on the track, as you pass under the bridge on the straight. Almost like a modern F1, I brake just before the 100 meters mark, but unless you’re very very hard and sudden on the brakes, you might want to begin lifting up the throttle a bit earlier and then transition to braking. This will give you some room to manouver in case you mess up. Also, use the whole road width, beyond the white lines. All around the track the white lines should rather be ignored and the only reference points you should use are the curbs and the gravel traps.
Start turning in early so you can carry a good amount of speed into the corner, somewhere before the 50 mark on the left, but keep decelerating as much as you can and change down to 3rd gear (should still be 3rd gear in a 5-speed gearbox, but I don’t know for certain, maybe just in BT11?). As you can see on my lap, I’m doing some small corrections with the brakes and throttle because the aim here is to go past the first early apex and drift wide towards the outside of the track.
From there on, before the revs drop too much and before you lose momentum, you should apply throttle gradually until it’s 100% opened. As you accelerate downhill, keep turning in smoothly to the right. I change to 4th gear here, but just use the maximum of your gear box and only change up if you reach the rev limit.
Keep your eyes focused on where you want the car to be at the bottom of the downhill and that means to line up as best as possible to the right side of the track, parallel with the little straight before T2 which is a fast left-rigth turn over the crest.
It’s very important not to clip the inside curb here, but also not to run wide at the end of T1. Be careful as the suspension suddenly compresses at the bottom of the slope and the frontend gains grip momentarily. It helps to unwind the steering wheel at that moment just enough so you keep going in the same direction. You rear may step out a bit, so you can even turn left a bit, just to prepare the car for the next bend. It’s slightly different each lap, so you need to anticipate it and doing a lot of practice helps you to achieve that.
T2 ‘S’ des sablieres – sorry, but I don’t have apostrofe letters for these words! I messed up this corner a bit on my lap, because riding the inside curb is something you should not do. You never know where the frontend may go when you do it. I did it 4-5 times during my practice session and in 3 of those situations the frontend just washed away either left or right. One of those was particularly bad as the car veered violently to the right and into the wall.
So try to turn into the corner while still flat out and firmly on the throttle, but at a moment which would drift you just next to the curb at the apex of the left-hander. If you happen to run over the curb anyway, make sure to lift-up slightly and turn the steering wheel left just as you step onto it. This will prevent the car from getting launched to the right, if nothing else. If you happen to ride it a lot more though, be prepared to have quite severe oversteer with the rear of the car stepping out.
Anyway, if you get it right, you can go through it just about flat-out or with just a slight and momentary lift of the throttle, maybe 20-30% for half a second. It’s important to keep the front wheels turned left for longer than it feels right, because the frontend becomes lighter over the crest and you lose some grip which leads to understeer. This is also to prevent running over the curb on the inside of the following long right-hander, which is another curb you want to avoid at all cost.
Once you enter this long right, you should try to keep drifting slightly alongside it, but not too close to the curb. In the BT7 I have to do miniature momentary lift-ups just to prevent the car from going wide. They’re not really noticeable on the video, but you can probably spot them if you run the replay through GPLRA. Replay and setup at the end of the post BTW.
The key here is similar as with the exit of T1 – position the car just next to the edge of the road on the right side at the end of the corner, but without climbing the curb.
T3 Gauche de la bretelle – if you’ve carried enough speed through the previous bend, you’ll need to start braking just before it ends, before the darker groove begins for T3. This means turning and braking at the same time, so make sure you have a smooth transition and weight transfer. One important thing here – don’t brake late! You definitely don’t want to run wide here – the road is either flat or off-camber, plus it goes downhill, so it’s hard to keep the car in.
Now, I have some doubts for this corner yet. I’ve tried two different lines through it and both feel OK, but I haven’t compared which one is faster, so I’ll tell you about both. First approach is to brake enough (2nd gear in my BT7) so you can drift right around the curb on the inside without ever going wide, letting the rear step out a bit in the process so you can still apply the throttle as early as possible with the frontend pointing at an angle towards the inside of the corner. This is the line I took on the lap in the video.
The other way to do it and I’ve done it equal amount of times during my practice run, is to go a bit wide on entry, keep slowing down and rotating the car, until it points towards a late apex and then floor it downhill. This seems a bit easier to do because you don’t have to think about avoiding the inside curb around the corner, but I’m not sure it’s as fast. It also presents a different requirement for your gear ratio because you drop more revs at one moment while with the first approach you keep a more consistent amount of revs all the way through.
Anyway, once you point towards those group of trees on the far end of the track, behind the barrier, accelerate hard but smooth down the hill, but keep the steering wheel turned-in because the car tends to understeer here. Use the whole track width on the exit and go right next to the gravel edge.
T4 Parabolique – this is a tricky one and the correct line through it is not an easy one to maintain. The undulations of the road makes it mandatory to apply different amounts of throttle and steering at different moments around the corner, otherwise you can’t keep a smooth line through it.
Don’t use the whole track before the corner, but aim to position the car so that you have the white line running beneath you as you begin to brake hard, just before the 50 mark on the right (and the Elf sign on the left). Go a bit wider on the entry and ignore the grooved line. This is not exactly the case with 67 cars because they have a lot of power, but you can’t really accelerate well if you keep drifting here, so that’s why I prefer to go wide before the uphill and then straighten out the rest of the corner with harder acceleration. Maybe that’s not the case in the more powerful 65 cars, I’m not sure.
I say harder acceleration, but you shouldn’t floor it here. Some feathering of the throttle is necessary to avoid excessive wheelspin – wheelspin which can easily send you into that dreadful curb on the inside or, if your car is set with a lot of understeer, send you off into the gravel trap on the left.
With the BT7 it happens that I change to 3rd just over the crest there, so it’s quite convenient, but if you don’t change a gear, then feather the throttle just enough to keep the car in a smooth line, but still on the limit as far as acceleration is concerned. Don’t be afraid to use the whole track width on the exit and even more – the gravel is pretty smooth out there, so putting a wheel off for a moment is not too bad.
T5 Double gauche de la bretelle – for some reason this corner name stirs up my appetite, but the corner itself is a nice place to practice your trail-braking and throttle control. Although it’s a double left-hander, the second part is completely flat out and it’s only the first section you need to be concerned with.
It consists of 2 short but sharp turns and the road gets narrower on entry, so you can’t afford to run wide. In the best case that would lose you a lot of time and in the worst you’ll go off and hit those walls. For the record though and just so you know during the race – those cones on the outside are not solid and you can safely go through them. You don’t need to ask how I know that, but if you don’t trust me I’m willing to bet you’ll find out on your own quite soon, willingly or not. 😀
The braking point for this corner is between the 100 and 50 mark, maybe at around 60-70. Again, rather than braking late, do it early unless you feel very confident. On the lap that I’m sharing with you, I thought I braked too late and didn’t think I would make it, but it allowed me to discover something which, if you can do consistently (I’m not sure I can myself), can save you a good amount of time.
What I mean is to let the car slide early by turning-in while you’re still braking hard, but lift up the brakes just before it begins to lose grip at the rear. In short – trailbrake excessively and let the car drift as much as possible. This would allow your frontend to point towards the inside very early on, so you can step on the throttle even before the apex, just as I did. The benefit of all that is you can carry more speed through the corner and the early application of throttle pushes the car forward before it goes wide. It’s important to be careful with the throttle though, there is an initial moment where you can’t afford to floor it completely.
Once you go past the apex, it’s just flat out from there on, going up the gears and turning smoothly back to the left after you’ve exited near the right side of the track.
T6 Virage de la Combe – the approach and entry to this corner is a bit out of the book, but I think it should be allowed for two reasons. First, it’s easier and safer to do it like this. Second, it’s the way we’ve driven it in other leagues in the past, such as oAo. I don’t recall if we did Dijoin in UKGPL before, so I thought I should point it out.
Anyway, what I mean is going over the curb on the left before the corner and using the piece of road behind it, next to the gravel trap. It allows you to take a bit quicker line on entry and it also makes braking and positioning the car an easier task because it straightens your line.
Brake gently and turn-in sharply just before the dark groove begins, and drift alongside the curb on the inside for a second or so, before you apply full throttle gradually just when the last tree on the left behind the wall is about to disappear out of view. I would rather not run wide into the gravel on the exit, but it’s not so bad if you do, so don’t panic if it happens during the race. It may actually be a good way to put some stress on a driver who is following close behind you! 😉
T7 Courbe de Pouas – seemingly an easy corner, but one that is very difficult to get right consistently each lap and that is also crucial for your lap time because it dictates your top speed on the long s/f straight.
Using the whole track width off the previous corner, begin turning into this fast right while you’re fully on the throttle, just before the group of trees are about to disappear on the left. Once you turn-in, lift-up the throttle gradually and even apply a little bit of brake to slow down the car.
The road here feels as if it goes off-camber, so the car always wants to drift-wide whenever you accelerate. You need to delay your acceleration and keep the car tucked into the inside of the corner for awhile here. If you can, turn the car around a bit into a slight drift, so the frontend points more to the inside which would allow you to step sooner onto the throttle.
The moment of acceleration is hard to judge, but you can use that lighter-green colored small tree on the left which is the last of the trees there. Once the tree is about to go off-sight, step hard onto the throttle and begin to open up your line so you can exit next to the wall before the straight. Be careful as you transition from the track to the concrete area as it’s a bit bumpy and can send your car to the left sooner than you want to, into the wall.
What’s left is the s/f straight which also has a name, but I don’t have to write that one because there’s nothing special to this section of the track. 😀
Well, that’s it! A tricky, but enjoyable track and very rewarding for those who get it right. Passing is diffcult here because there are no long braking areas, so Qualifying can count for a lot, as well as not making any mistakes during the race. As promised, here is a ZIP file of the replay of my lap and my current setup for the BT7: