• willfairclough

Brands Hatch. Slow is fast, fast is slow.

Experience counts. I'm not preaching anything new here. To achieve a level of consistency and predictability in racing you need seat time. Natural ability can only take you so far...in the beginning.

After each race weekend I engage my conscious mind to visualise and recount my lines and speed through corners, seeing where I could have been faster. In the race my conscious mind is switched off. If we are talking about the subconscious, then my theory is that most of it is made up from a combination of experience and natural ability. This is what will determine how fast I can be on track.

When I first got in the car and drove, it was at Snetterton in January. It was here I encountered the racing phenomenon, slow is faster. I'd be pushing the car hard to go faster and faster but lap times were slower and not progressing. This was frustrating. Then all of a sudden a lap time would drop like a stone and I wouldn't have a clue why. What I mean by this, I didn't know which corner I was faster in or how I was controlling the car to make the difference. I was simply not familiar enough with driving to know WHY. This is what it's like for a beginner.

And then I would consciously try to slow down. Guess what, I was slower. Frustrating. The only way to improve is experience. Seat time. Repetition. In the beginning I cannot control going faster, beyond that which I am fastest.

By visualising my races after the weekend I am able to engage my conscious mind. I am feeling my way around the track and seeing where I should have been faster. This is my progression process. This is me starting to feel and understand and control the 'faster is slower' concept.

Take Brands Hatch as an example. Race 2. I was consistently hitting 1m 2s laps (in the wet). This gave me a commanding lead. While towards the end of the race I did slow my pace, I demonstrated a level of consistency and predictability within my driving. For sure I'm making progress.

However. In race 3 I came up short. After getting myself into P2 with clear air I set myself the task of catching the leader. I was now 5 seconds behind, but with 2/3rds of the race left plenty of time to catch and pass. While momentarily sneaking into the 1m 2s on lap 9 (just - 1m 2.974s) my lap times were 1 sometimes 2 seconds off the pace, consistently. The leader, an experienced and fast racer, hitting his mark on every lap.

So why?

Fast is slow. Have you not been paying attention? I was over driving the car. And in tricky wet conditions, this was amplified. My subconscious had run out of experience to draw down on. The tap was dry. I couldn't find the optimum lines I had been able to find in race 1 & 2, and I was approaching corners impetuously without calmness, without control. So it's not a shock to learn my last lap was my fastest, only 0.160s off the leaders fastest lap of the race. I was calm and composed and not forcing my speed to come.

The positives. I have another weekend of action to add into my subconscious experience bank. It's been topped up and we start again fresh for Cadwell next month. I achieved another pole position. I won in the wet on slicks. I won in the wet on wets. I was 2nd only to a fast and experienced racer. And when it all goes wrong I can stay on the black stuff. Check this out...

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