Knowing how to overtake is one of the most important pieces of race craft in motorsports and SimRacing, with patience and mutual respect being key factors to making a pass stick. However, knowing what to do on the other side of the battle can be just as crucial – here is what to do and not to do when trying to defend you position.
1 – Keep an eye on your mirrors
Being aware of what is happening around your car is essential when racing other cars, and even more so if you are being chased. Try to observe your opponent’s driving style, judge their distance, but do not let it distract you to the point where you brake too late – just be aware of what your opponent is doing so you can react to it if need be.
2 – Know how to pick your battles
Timing is key for overtaking, and the same is true for defending your position: If there are only a few laps to go, making it as hard as possible for your opponent might mean that you will be able to hold your position until the checkered flag flies. On the other hand, if you find yourself ahead of a driver who is clearly faster than you early in a race, battling them with everything you have will only slow both of you down. It makes more sense to not put up much of a fight in these cases and maybe even profit from their draft for a little while.
3 – Make decisive moves
The number one rule for defensive racing is that you cannot block someone, meaning you should not switch your line in reaction to your opponent doing the same. Instead, if you want to take the defensive line, make it clear before the braking zone of an upcoming corner so your opponent knows they have to either try their move around the outside or not at all. Usually, two moves (i.e. off the racing line and back) are acceptable, but moving to block under braking is frowned upon.
4 – Cover the inside line
Although it might seem counterintuitive as it compromises your speed at a corner’s apex, covering the inside line means that the opponent that is trying to overtake you would have to go the longer way around to make it happen, possibly in the marbles next to the racing line and thus handing you the advantage for a better corner exit.
5 – Leave enough space
Once you are side by side with an opponent, making sure to leave enough space for both cars to survive without crashing out is essential. Squeezing other cars into the grass or gravel on corner exit is not only frowned upon, but could also lead to crashes which could end both of your races.
6 – Know when you have lost
Possibly the hardest part of driving defensively, conceding a position instead of trying too hard to hang onto it makes good race craft as well. Sometimes, tucking into the slipstream and trying to re-pass a car a few corners later if you have the pace for it is the more sensible option.
Of course, there is more to defensive driving, as we have not even touched upon the craft in oval racing, for example. This list should be a handy guide of basics for road racing, however. Are you missing an important tip? Let us know in the comments below!