I did some laps earlier today to test my Honda setup for Riverside 1960, which happens to be Round 2 of UKGPL Season 20 Graduates Cup, and it appeared that the setup is quite old, but it worked quite well after a few changes.
I’ve updated my setup pack with all my Riverside setups (they were in an old GPL copy on my hard disk), including this last one. I’ve made a new Setups section on the site where you can get my setup pack and I’ll be posting updates to it whenever necessary.
Now for the lap itself, in the Honda RA300 of course:
1) You arrive at T1 in 4th gear, staying as close to the pitwall as possible. It’s easy to hit the wall at that point, but it’s crucial that you almost brush it before you turn into the corner. That way you can carry a lot more speed on entry.
The turning-in point is a difficult one to judge properly and it depends on your exit speed from the last corner, but just after the s/f line works well. It’s very important to turn in on time, otherwise you’d have to slow down a lot more to make the corner. Ease off the throttle gently, apply some brake and let the car rotate around – don’t worry about spinning, the speed is high enough to prevent that.
Apply throttle well before the apex and aim to go as close to the inside wall as possible, clipping the dirt on the inside with your left front wheel. Don’t accelerate too early because you don’t want to lift up anymore or make any corrections on the exit.
2) The esses (sorry, I don’t know corner names) are very difficult to get right, but you can gain a huge amount of time if you manage that. Go left after T1, before the two slight kinks that go right and left.
The key is to straighten both of those curves as much as possible and there’s just a single line that can do this, but to nail it without lifting up (or at least not too much), you have to turn in very early while keeping the throttle pedal floored down.
If you manage to do that, you will have the ideal line going into the slower right hander (3rd gear) and so you would be able to brake efficiently in a straight line rather than slide around. Starting lifting up carefully before that second left-hand kink and apply the brake smoothly but firmly before the right turn.
You need to turn into it sooner than it seems comfortable, but the speed you arrive at is going to drift you nicely around the banking on the inside. Don’t be afraid to even touch it a bit – it helps turn the car in. Delay your acceleration here or you risk running wide into the ground embedded tires on the outside, plus you’re also going to compromise your lines and speed for the next bends.
3) The second part of the esses is faster but line is very important here. With the right line you can take the whole left-right-left combination flat out, and be positioned properly before braking for the long hairpin right that opens up over the hill.
If you had a good exit off the previous slow right hander, you would be somewhere in the middle of the track and accelerating hard towards the downhill section there. Turn early again into the left-hand kink, then very early into the right-hand – the speed is going to cause understeer so your car is going to drift a lot, but just keep the steering smooth.
Once you turn flat out into the uphill left-hander, start to ease off the throttle and go down a gear into 3rd, to open up the diff a bit and make the car turn better. Once you go past the apex, stay on the left and brake in a straight line towards the hairpin, going down to 1st gear.
4) The hairpin, which opens up along the way, is a tricky place and requires smooth throttle operation. Don’t go too wide on entry, but don’t turn in too much either. You want to stay about a meter or so from the inside on entry and start to accelerate just before the corner begins to open up.
Short-shift to 2nd at that moment (with my setup anyway), and keep feeding in the throttle while waiting for the right moment to floor it completely. The grooved line is deceptive here – it opens up too early and if you follow it you’ll end up in the sticky gravel on the outside.
So have some patience and floor it just when the track begins to go downhill in front of you and you can’t see it anymore. If done well, you’ll just go past the track edge on the left and achieve maximum revs, shifting into 3rd
5) I’m using maximum low setup for my Qualifying run and it bottoms out seriously on the approach to the next hairpin – the long left on top of the hill. If you can’t control it or you’re running more fuel (as in the race), I suggest raising up the ride height by at least a click.
Before you reach the braking zone for that hairpin, there is a jump – make sure to lift up at the right moment so the engine does not overrev. Don’t brake too late for the corner because the bottoming means your braking isn’t as effective.
Rather ease off the throttle smoothly and apply the brakes somewhat, then harder when the car bottoms – you can’t lock the wheels while the undertray scrapes the ground. The tricky part is when to ease off the brakes again – you need to do it just when the car stops scraping the ground, otherwise your tires are going to lock up and you’ll go into a slide.
The entry into the corner itself is blind, but it must be done earlier than it feels right. The grip at the front-end tends to go away because of the slope change on top of the hill, so the car is going to understeer badly. That’s why you need to turn early and keep decelerating (trail-braking) as deeply as possible into the corner. It’s not a bad idea to hook the inside edge there, just like they do in rallying – it helps turn the car into the apex.
The moment of acceleration here has to be delayed with patience – you want to straighten the exit as much as possible. No short-shifting here because the corner is too slow, so be careful with the wheelspin in 1st gear. If you do it right, you’ll reach the exit just next to the track edge on the right and change up to 2nd gear.
6) Approaching the tightening right-hander before the 3rd hairpin which also happens to be the slowest part on the track, you need to use the full width of the track before the corner entry. Brake soon after the grooved line begins (sorry, no other braking references, at least for me) or after you did many laps, judge it by your guts feeling and the engine revs.
Change down to 2nd gear to open up the diff enough so the car can turn in better in those higher revs. You could take it in 3rd, but it usually leads to understeer, at least with my driving style. Efficient trail-braking here can gain you a lot of time and this is the place where I usually gain my time on this track – if you do it right you’d still be braking slightly as you glide past the apex on the inside after having turned earlier but with enough speed.
After about a second of going around the apex, accelerate smoothly so the car goes left again, towards the outside. The track opens up there for a small straight before the hairpin, so you can maximize your line by going as left as possible. This will also help you with the braking for the next corner – you can do your braking in a straight line that way.
7) If you’ve managed to take the left side before the hairpin and brake in a straight line, you’d have a lot of road width to play with. Don’t be afraid to do this in the race as well, even if you have someone behind you – it’s nearly impossible to launch an attack on the inside there.
Start turning in very early and this means not braking too late and too deep. Rather just brake early in a straight line, then trail-brake slightly and let the car drift into the corner as you change down to 1st gear. You need to position it slightly towards the middle of the track, but continuously closing in towards a very late apex.
With my long 1st gear I can easily floor it very early here, so if you use my setup try the same. It’s important NOT to use the whole width on the exit because there’s a short left-hander that leads onto the long backstraight. The ideal line our of the hairpin is somewhere in the middle of the road.
Turn left just so you almost touch the grass edge on the inside, shifting into 2nd gear as you do that and unwinding the steering wheel because the car tends to oversteer under acceleration. Change into 3rd as you finally make your way onto the straight, next to the track edge on the right.
8 ) The left-hand kink after the straight is easy, but it’s also a bit blind because of the downhill slope, so you need to turn in at the right moment, otherwise you’ll scrub off too much speed in your attempt to make the corner.
Use the bridge column at the end of the straight as your guideline – turn in just after you go past it. It’s not a risky thing to go over the inside grass edge at the kink, but don’t overdo it and most of all – keep it smooth.
9) The last corner, the oval bit, is not too hard, but it can be confusing to find the right line at first. From my experience over the years I find that the best line into, through and out of it is as follows:
Stay just a bit to the left of the middle of the road before entry, but don’t use the whole track width on the left. Just a bit left to the grooved line works fine. Brake just after the groove begins, but not too hard.
Turn in-slightly as you decelerate and let the car go towards the inside, but not closer than 1.5-2 meters from the wall. Ideally you want to keep decelerating while the car drifts from the inside towards the middle of the road as you go around the corner.
When done correctly you’d have just decelerated enough so the car finally grips and stops going wide where the grooved line goes, somewhere in the middle of the track. You have to use a slight amount of throttle and brake to balance the car until you reach this point.
Once you do, in 3rd gear, you can safely floor it at first – the low revs are going to prevent any wheelspin and you’ll just have to follow the line which leads towards the second apex near the corner exit. Be careful when the revs go up – unless you’re positioned perfectly, you would have to ease off the throttle for a moment and settle the car, otherwise you risk going too wide and into the wall.
Try not to turn the steering wheel too much here or it leads to severely overheated tires. Smooth is the key – you should rather underdo it than overdo it and make corrections.
That’s it – a lap completed!