iRacing Ideal Racing Line. Yes or No?

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What is the ideal racing line in iRacing? There is a function that you can turn on that will give you an “ideal” racing line for that given track. This line will also be color coordinated to show the different zones for braking and accelerating. The color shading will also change. For example, a harder braking corner will be a darker red. Where as a light braking corner will be much paler. Just like a stop light, green is to accelerate and red is for braking. The grey zones are no throttle or brake.

insert screenshot where you can turn on/off the line from the options menu

Thoughts on the racing line…

There are a variety of opinions on using iRacing’s ideal racing line. There have been a couple of consistent thoughts that I have seen. The first is you should pretty much never use it in a race. More on that later. The second thought, you need to be able to learn the track.

As mentioned before, I’ve played quite a few racing games. None of those games were quite like iRacing however. Personally, there has been a little bit of a learning curve. My biggest goal has been learning to race effectively and efficiently. I have used a few strategies within my learning curve.

Several different strategies have been used in my progression to learning at this point in time. Some of which have been touched on in other posts. There has been a bit of a mixed bag of results, but overall it has been fairly positive. Just as with coaching, you need to have multiple ways to work towards a single goal. One way may not always work. Trying an alternative method may also help you learn something that you hadn’t seen previously!

Strategies

When looking at the different strategies, I am only going to use the past few weeks. In Mid October, that is when I made the switch to the Logitech G29 Racing Wheel. Prior to that, I was using a PS4 controller. While it helped in just being on the track and seeing it. It was a minor miracle to just stay on track and not spin out in every corner!

Just Drive!

As others have opined in forum threads and my own stubborness, just drive and turn laps to learn the course. While this way may potentially be a little slower, you’re awareness and memory is that much greater. On a new track, I tend to start fairly slow and timid to learn the layout first. As familiarity increases, then you can start to add more speed and see how the turns drive. Looking ahead and finding landmarks is always important.

Even doing this on tracks that have been run a little bit, works! The results that I have found are being more comfortable maintaining speed through turns and knowing I won’t spin out. Lap times tend to drop quicker. Watching previous laps and comparing splits, better understanding of how to drop time and improve entry and exits.

Watch Others

If you are just stuck or still having trouble, don’t be afraid to watch how others drive. Youtube is a great place to look for the track and car combo you are driving. If it is a race option, go in and watch and see how top drivers are navigating turns. You can also follow others around the track and see if there is a certain section that they are better in. Just watch out if someone is coming up fast!

I have been watching lap videos more recently to pick up pointers that I may be missing. This has helped more in when to brake and how much pressure to apply. I had some reluctance to watch at first because I wanted to learn on my own. As stated earlier, it just an additional training method and it can’t hurt!

Using the Ideal Racing Line

Initially I wasn’t too sure if I even wanted to use the ideal racing line supplied in game. Over the last few days, I decided to go ahead and give it a shot. The early return was fairly decent! It has certainly helped me even more with reading the turns and how to handle the braking zones. Lap times have improved pretty well. It is track dependent, but on average a 2.5 second improvement.

I’ll use the Indianapolis Road Course for an example with the IR18 car. On initial laps just running by myself, lap times got to be around a 1:27. Next set up was adding the racing line in and lap times dropped to 1:24. Comfort level kept building and turned the line off and lap times dropped to 1:21 range.

I know there is still a lot of room left for improvement, but it shows you don’t need the line. My fastest laps were running a slightly shifted line and braking than the racing line in the game. It is definitely a good resource to use, but again, it can’t be the only tool you use in learning a track.

Additional thoughts and potential issues

The coaching side of me would recommend that it is ok to use the ideal racing line tool. My suggestion would be to not use it at first though. Turn some laps first to begin gaining familiarity with the track. This way you don’t just drive on the line and not see anything else about the track.

After you have learned the track a bit, feel free to turn on the line. Use it as a tool to see how your development has gone so far. Do your best to drive as you have been and compare to what you are doing. If a spin usually happens in Turn 5, what are you doing versus the line? Once any big time losses are found, go back to driving without the line and work to improve. Keep driving! Maybe a new line or brake point can be found that can squeak out those extra fen tenths of a second!

Don’t use in a race

If you are going to do a race, for sure turn the racing line off. A race is much more dynamic than a solo test drive. You may not always be able to drive the line. There could potentially be several other cars all going for the same spot. The last thing you want to do is end your race in a wreck. This is where it is important to learn multiple ways around the track and how to handle a turn if you need to go wider.

There is another issue that can come up during a race. The “ideal” racing line is just that, ideal. It doesn’t shift as you get further into a race as your tires wear down and fuel load gets lighter. As stated above, it doesn’t correct to another line if someone is in the way. That is why it is important to do long runs to learn how your car may handle at different points in a run.

Don’t become reliant to the ideal racing line

Another issue that can arise is becoming too reliant on the line. Be careful driving two feet in front of the nose of your racecar. A good driver will be looking ahead and preparing for the next turn and hitting their marks. Sometimes the fun in driving is trying different lines and seeing what happens. It is also good practice if you are in a race and need to come up with a new line in a flash. The more one can learn to navigate and maintain speed on their own, the better they will be come race time!

Until the next race or time attack…

At the end of the day, we all want to have fun and enjoy some racing. It can become frustrating when someone doesn’t hold there line or doesn’t make adjustments. I know I am still a beginner and will make mistakes. My apologies in advance to my fellow racers! Keep learning and try different methods. Just because someone doesn’t like it or won’t work for them, by no means should you avoid it! Go out and have fun!