LAP AROUND MAZDA RACEWAY LAGUNA SECA by Ryan Dalziel
Starting your lap - Your first time climbing up the steep start finish straight, cresting the top of the hill and pulling top gear is awesome. The car gets light and the track on the other side is completely blind till you land on the downside of the hill. You have to use the pedestrian bridge across the track at the top as a reference for where to position the car cresting the hill, something that is very important as we drive around the rest of Laguna Seca Raceway.Turn 2 - Braking into the tight, almost hairpin turn 2 is always really tricky. Taken in 2nd gear it's very easy to over shoot the brake zone and drive off line which kills your lap time for that lap completely but there is also a lot of lap time in the brake zone so you can't afford to be conservative. Turn 2 is a double apex corner and it's extremely important to be patient through the center of the corner and to get on the power only once exiting the corner. You can use some curbing here on exit of a fast lap.
Turn 3 - Approaching is very difficult as there is not much in the way of references and you have to hustle the car from the right side of the track to the left to set up for the turn 3 right hander. We will likely use 3rd gear here and rolling entry speed is key. Turning in early helps with front grip as it tends to be an understeering corner, and using the inside curbing usually helps also. Early to the power is important as we have a decent size straight towards turn 4.
Turn 4 - Is a very fast and flat corner. We will likely approach in 4th or 5th gear and the corner will be 4th. Turn 4 is a fast sweeping right hander with a straight afterwards. Its very important to get through here with as much minimum speed as possible, this is crucial to not only over all lap time, but also to defend your position or attack the position in front. Turn 5 is a good passing zone so exit speed of Turn 4 is most important part, you have to try to use the entire exit curb without running onto the dusty Laguna Seca run off areas.
Turn 5 - Awesome corner. It is heavily banked which really helps your corner speeds. It is a left-handed corner where we will approach either at the top of 5th or 6th gear. You can brake very late here and you release the brake quickly and roll as much speed into the apex as the car will handle. The car will initially understeer but once you hit the banking it naturally helps to turn the car and you can pretty much get on full power from the apex curbing. Now we start to climb the long hill, ultimately to the corkscrew.
Turn 6 - In my opinion the trickiest corner at Laguna Seca. It is approached uphill and is approx a 70degree left handed corner that flattens out slightly as you turn in, causing every car to oversteer on entry if your technique isn't right. The trick is turning in slightly early so that you cross the crest at the entry as straight as possible. As soon as the car will allow you want to pick up your throttle and transfer weight back onto the rear axles and stabilize your car. From this point if your car is working well at the front you will compress through the center of the corner and be able to apply full power and accelerate up the steep hill to the corkscrew.
The Corkscrew (turns 8 & 8a) - There is only one line as the track weaves first left then right up from the fast turn 6. Sticking to your line makes it very difficult to run side by side with another car, unless the have a slow run through turn 6. You are braking as close to the top of the hill as possible and you are completely blind turning left into the first half of the famous corkscrew. When you turn left the left-hand curbing is below your line of sight so being familiar with where it is you start to use it more and more which greatly helps negotiate the Corkscrew's tight entry. When you start to turn left you will see a very prominent tree straight ahead, if you aim for that tree it naturally drives you down into the correct racing line for the right-handed part two of the Corkscrew. The way to be fast through the Corkscrew is all about how much speed you can roll through the left-handed part and how aggressive your car will allow you to accelerate. If you can get on the power hard straight away you will power down the hill to the right away from the competition.
Turn 9 - As you leave the corkscrew you accelerate quickly back down the steep hill. Approaching 9 you want to turn in early and wait for the car to stop understeering. It's a fast 4th gear corner so you want to try getting through as fast as possible and with little or no brakes.
Turn 10 - Fast, banked right handed corner, again in 4th gear. Similar to turn 5, turn in early and use the banking to turn the car. Initially you will understeer but trust the track to turn you. You can gain a lot of lap time here with having a confidence in your car.
Turn 11 - Very important, 2nd gear, 90degree left hander which leads onto the start/finish straight. Most important thing here is not to out brake yourself and get on the gas as early and quickly as possible. Traction is always the biggest issue for lap time here so be patient and let the car do the work.