Driving Tips for Sydney Motorsport Park GP Circuit (3.93km track)
Turns 1, 2, 3
For those of you that know Eastern Creek you will be aware that T1 has the potential to be very fast and as such has the potential to go horribly wrong very quickly. Many of the cars we see on our Burrows' days have the ability to reach speeds in excess of 200 kph down the main straight at EC, at these speeds any misjudgement is magnified dramatically. It is vital that you have braked in a straight line and slowed the car to a speed that you are happy with prior to turning in. One FAQ is how fast should that be? Of course, this depends totally on your car's capabilities and most of all your experience. I always recommend that this is no place for heroics; it is a corner that you should build up to and always be conservative in terms of speed.
I believe that the most important part of any turn is from the turn in point to the apex, and the faster the corner the more crucial this becomes. Once you have turned in you must be back on the throttle in order to balance the car, this doesn't mean jump aggressively on the gas, it means squeeze the throttle and maintain your entry speed to the apex.
Balance is a word you will hear me mention frequently, by balancing the throttle to the apex you are keeping the weight of the car distributed correctly, that is with the rear of the car squatting, this is critical in a Porsche or any mid engined car and helps to minimise bodyroll and gives you more control over the momentum of the car.
Once you are at the apex, which a cone will mark, you should be squeezing the throttle down and powering out of the corner. This should result in an exit out near the ripple strip on the right. If you are off line or the car is feeling unbalanced, the first thing you will want to do is take your foot off the gas. At this point, if you jump off the gas abruptly the car will probably spin and you will have a huge problem on your hands. If you find yourself in this situation, EASE off the gas and don't do anything sudden. Of course, if you do spin, do one thing - JUMP on the brakes and stop the car ASAP.
You are now approaching T2 and it's one of the trickiest corners I have driven. This corner is usually taken in 2nd or 3rd gear. Again you need to slow the car in a straight line and heel and toe down shift into the correct gear, unless you are lazy like Peter and have an F1 gearbox. T2 is basically a hairpin that tightens up on itself, and is slightly uphill on entry. You will notice that racecars take a much different line here to road cars, simply because they have that much more grip. They tend to brake diagonally straight into the first ripple strip, then understeer into the middle of the corner, which done correctly, will position them to exit quickly having carried more speed in. If you try this in a road car on road tyres you will be off the road at the exit. Once you have reached the turn in point, marked by a cone, smoothly turn the wheel and remember to look around the corner. You need to gradually bring the car around to the apex again marked by a cone at the end of the second ripple strip, all the time balancing the gas as previously described. It seems like forever but you can't really start to accelerate until you are at the apex cone.
This should position you correctly for the entry to T3, this is quite a long corner, you will probably have changed up to 3rd on exit of T2 and you will then drive straight into the bend, hugging the white line on the right hand side of the road, keeping the power on smoothly all the way through, then gradually unwinding the lock to allow the car to flow to the left hand side of the road. Be careful not to unwind too soon as you can find yourself on the grass on the exit, which will result in a fast spin with two concrete walls on either side of you (not recommended).
Turns 4,5,6/7 (T6/7 reprofiled as at March 2012)
As you exit T3 you should be on the left hand side of the track, the circuit rises up slightly and then drops away on the run down to T4, at this point you will pick up additional speed as the gradient on the road in is quite steep. T4 is a very important turn in terms of lap time as it is the start of a sequence of corners that are linked in terms of flow. Most cars will take T4 in 3rd or 4th gear, the turn in point is critical and you should turn in from the extreme left hand side of the track, it is very easy to turn in early here as the corner rushes up fast, the consequences of turning early and apexing early can be disastrous as the track changes camber and tightens to the right on exit, if you are in early you will find the car under steering and be forced to lift off the gas, at this point if you lift off quickly you will cause a sudden transfer of weight to the front causing the back to step out.
At this point you will probably feel like the car will just spin to the grass on the left. But what occurs is that the back will spin to the left and continue to rotate causing the car to exit to the grass on the right hand side and straight into the concrete wall. This is a real black spot at EC that most people don't realise exists. Have a look at the skid marks on the road and the damage on the wall; I've seen many badly damaged cars at this point.
The correct turn in point will be marked by a cone and the apex is 2 thirds of the way around the kerb on the right. As usual you should balance the throttle on the way to apex. Once you are at the apex, ease on the gas. Be aware that the camber changes and the road tightens to the right, you should exit turn 4 about three quarters of the way across the circuit.
You then need to bring the car back to the right to line up for T5. Again this is a very important turn and the turn in to this corner is unusual as it is quite early. You must turn in from right on the edge of the track on the right to optimise the line. You will usually be in the same gear as T4 and you will need to brake gently before turning in. The apex is before the half way point on the kerb on your left, at this point you should be easing the gas on and unwinding the lock to exit right on the right hand side of the track. There is an additional concrete strip on your right which can be used but be careful not to drop a wheel of the edge of this!! If you aren't exiting on the edge of the track you are turning in too late, so turn in a little earlier next lap.
As you exit up towards T6 you should place the car on the far right hand side of the track. The newly reprofiled T6 is a late apex left hander so you need to ensure your braking is done in a straight line before turning in to the corner. Most cars will be down to third gear for this corner. The apex is pretty much at the end of the kerb on your left; you should then ease the power on to exit the turn on the right hand side of the circuit.
As you exit turn 6/7 you will notice that the track tightens up, it is quite easy to find yourself running out of room at this point. If the car starts to understeer as you exit turn 6/7, just ease the gas off, don't jump off the gas as the understeer will probably turn into oversteer.
The road then heads uphill to T8. This is usually referred to as corporate hill. As you approach this turn you should be positioned on the right hand side of the track. Most road cars should have to brake as they head under the bridge and should be in 4th gear. As you go under the bridge, the track actually curves to the right. It is best to follow the edge of the road as it curves right to the turn-in cone. If you don't follow the edge as it curves right, you can find yourself turning in to early to T8. This can cause big problems!
If you turn in early at this point and are going quick, you will apex early and start to run out of road on the exit. If this begins to happen, ease of the gas and try to get the front to tuck into the corner. Don't jump off the gas as you can find the back stepping out on you.
T8 is one of the black spots at EC as the road falls away on entry and is slightly off camber. It is probably easier in a racecar as you have a lot more grip. Most road cars feel nervous here. The conclusion of a spin at this turn can result in the car spinning sideways into the gravel trap on the right and possibly rolling over, or spinning right around and crunching the wall on the left. You only need to look at the skid marks here and the paint on the wall to understand my point.
The apex to T8 is near the end of the ripple strip on the left and will be marked by a cone. As you hit the apex you should ease on the gas and let the car flow to approximately the middle of the track, as you will need to position the car back onto the left hand side as you approach T9.
T9 is usually taken in 2nd gear and is a relatively easy corner. The road is nicely cambered and this is one corner were there are actually several lines that can be taken, resulting in similar exit speeds and not impacting on lap times. An ideal line is to turn into the corner from the edge of the road. At this point it is really important to look through the corner. In most cars you should find yourself actually looking past the A pillar to the apex which will be marked by a cone. As you exit the corner ease the gas on. It is easy to find the back stepping out at this point if you are driving a powerful rear wheel drive car. Be careful not to drop a left rear off the road as you exit.
The mistake most commonly made is to brake too late into T9 resulting in a very late turn in to the corner and a slow lap time. Like any slow corner you should remember that a quick exit speed is what's required. There is not a lot of time to be made in the turn.
Turns 10, 11, 12
As you exit turn 9 your car should be placed on the left hand side of the track for the run down to T10. T10 is really no more than a bend however the placement of the car is important as it leads to T's 11 and 12 and then down 1 kilometre of the main straight. Therefore if you are off line or unbalanced, the result can be a significantly lower lap time.
Most cars will be in 4th gear on the approach to T10. There will be a cone on the left hand side of the track that indicates where you should begin a gentle turn into the apex that is marked by another cone. Most cars won't need to brake for T10 but you will need to have a lift of the gas prior to turning in. It is important to be back on the gas as you turn, in order to balance the car on the approach to T11.
T10 flows immediately in to T11. Once you have apexed T10 you should be on the brakes and shifting down to 3rd gear. Don't head from the apex of T10 straight to the apex of T11, as this will compromise your line and speed through T11. You need to keep the car slightly to the right after apexing T10, then commence the turn in to T11 from approximately the middle of the track. This allows you to hit the apex (which is towards the end of the ripple strip on the left) with a minimum of steering lock and will see the car placed in a much better position to head up the short straight to T12.
At the apex of T11 you should be back on the gas and heading to T12. Don't make the mistake of making the T11/12 complex a big hairpin, holding a bit of left steering lock on all the way through. This will result in you overloading the right front tyre and usually turning in way to early for T12. Once you have apexed T11 the car should flow to the edge of the track on the right. At this point you should straighten the wheel and follow the concrete strip. It's best not to drive on this strip, but it is there to use if you run wide on the exit of T11. Remember that there is a concrete wall on the left between T11 and 12. If you exit T11 incorrectly or too fast and end up on the grass on the right hand side, you can find that the car will swap ends very quickly and shoot back across the track and into the wall on the left (don't laugh I've seen this happen).
The turn in to T12 should be made from the end of the concrete strip on the right. At this point it is very important to turn your head to look through the corner, as T12 is quite long. Most cars will need to have a lift or a gentle brake on the turn in to T12. This isn't so much to slow the car, but to transfer weight onto the front of the car in order to assist with a positive turn in. Most cars will carry 3rd gear through T12. You should be back on the throttle after turning in, holding a balanced throttle until you reach the apex that is at the end of the ripple strip on the left. As you exit T12 you should be unwinding the wheel to allow the car to flow to the edge of the track on the right hand side.
You are now on the run down to T1 - of course keeping the car on the right hand side of the track all the way down the straight. Be careful not to drop a wheel off the edge here.
So you have completed a perfect lap of Eastern Creek, that's the good news. Now you have to do it another 6, 12 or 20 times depending on how long you are out for. But don't forget the Burrows Days are all about quality, not quantity!