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Lap timing on public Touristfahrten days

My advice here can be summarised in one word: don't. I say this for three reasons ...

First, and most importantly, it puts pressure on people to push harder than may be wise, especially if they have a 'goal' in mind. In particular, when you face a situation where you have to decide between sitting behind someone for a bend or two and pushing past them, thoughts of seconds ticking away are bound to play some part in that decision.

In the worst-case, you may kill someone by trying to shave off a few seconds. Both marshalls and police report that a disproportionate number of serious crashes have a running stop-watch on the dash or handlebars.

Second, it's pointless and meaningless. There are no trophies for tourist laps, and the variations in traffic will always be greater than any variations in your driving performance.

Third, if you do have a serious crash while timing a lap, the police report will include details of any stop-watches, dash-timers, etc, they find. Your insurer will then invoke the 'time-trial' exclusion that is standard in every road policy, and you will find yourself personally liable for the GT3 you hit or the biker you injured.

Tourist days are about having fun, not setting lap records. There are many other ways to judge your progress at the track. If you want to go for laptimes, you don't have to pretend to be a race driver in a Touristfahren session, you can be a real one in one of the race series' available.

This is also the reason I have no laptimes on my site: I don't think they belong on a site geared to tourist driving.


Some advocates of laptiming sometimes ask how else we can measure how well we're doing. I responded that, for me, the satisfaction I feel at the end of a lap is of much more importance to me. Which got me thinking about what it is that contributes to the sense of a really satisfying lap. Here's what I concluded.


Was I always in the optimum gear at every point? Did I change gear at the best possible moment? Did I ease off or brake to the perfect speed for the entry to each bend? Did I keep the car balanced at all times? Did I begin accelerating at the optimum point?


Did I get the car or bike to track the exact line I intended to? Did I clip the entry, apex and exit dots (or whatever markers I've selected instead where I vary the line) to the centimetre? Did I correctly predict exactly where the car would slide to and exactly where it would regain grip? Was the transition from slide to grip a smooth one?


When the track conditions change, do I notice all the differences? Can I correctly estimate the friction available on each bend given the conditions at that particular time? Do I notice vehicles behind me as soon as they come into view, or only when they have closed up somewhat?


Where other traffic is concerned, was I able to predict what it was going to do? When overtaking, did I pick the optimum moment and manage to get past without fuss? When being overtaken, do I correctly predict exactly when it will make its move and how it will do it?


Do I end a lap feeling that I behaved towards everyone else exactly the way I would have wanted them to behave towards me? Are my overtakes courteous? Do I assist faster vehicles in getting past easily?


Was there any point at which I cut further into my safety margin than I'd intended to? In particular, when overtaking was the revised line I had to take safe at the speed at which I was taking it? Was there any way I could have increased my safety buffer without sacrificing satisfaction? Did I ever let myself get wound up by someone else's actions such that it affected my drive/ride?

My experience

I've done laps which were among my fastest ever but didn't give me much satisfaction because they felt a bit ragged. I've done moderate speed laps which gave me enormous satisfaction because everything came together really well. This is why I can have almost as much fun in an old Golf as in a Porsche.

Are they subjective rather than objective measurements? Yes. Does that matter? No - I'm there to enjoy myself, not to meet any external objective.



At the Ring



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