Pro Driver Hot Lap
with Christopher Sturdy
Lets do this!
The 2022 Nationals and 2023 layout at Chargers RC is very busy, Not a lot of time to rest during the lap and a lot of areas can make or break your runs. So we've broken down the lap into smaller sections to better understand the tricky layout.
Coming across the line to start the lap and you're already thrown into one of the hardest sections of the lap. Across the line is a nice bump that has emerged after all the weather 2022 threw at the track. Getting the braking right here is crucial. Too much and your car will lose balance and be to nose down and be unsettled. Too fast and you will also be unsettled and generally end up in the fence over the berm.
You dont want to be too tight or too wide across the start finish line as this makes setting up the berm harder or slower. There is about one (1) meters width in the middle that is the best window of attack into the berm. You want to start turning when the buggy is just about in line with the start of the apex of the turn and you want to start a gentle turn and then once you hit the bottom edge of the berm you can crank more steering into it and your target to hit is the emoji dots across the berm. That's the best line through the berm to set you up for one of the most brutal parts on the track - the Whoops/Ripple jumps and that leads us to Section 2.
Sections 2 & 3
You want to have your buggy lined up early and thats why the line and speed in the berm is important. You want to hit the jumps hard and fast as you want to clear the lot. If you have a Saviour, pray you don't hit that last bump or be ready to hang on and hope you don't land in the middle of the triple. The fastest line for this is also at an angle and your target is to land on the apex of 3. This creates the most speed and less turning angle to carry the buggy as fast as possible in between 3 and 4. If you land too far wide at 3 and have to give the buggy a lot of lock when you land you risk tumbling over.
Now you got through that section successfully, your onto one of the longest rhythm type sections of track I've raced on. Section 4 being T3 and what seems like a straight forward hairpin, is anything but. This corner sets up the moguls, which sets up the next hairpin, which then sets up the sequence of jumps that seems to go forever. This hairpin also features the most uneven parts of the track, A drain sites about 2 meters away from the exit apex of the turn and due to the amount of water underneath the surface looks like the face Deadpool without the mask on. This corner is all about getting the buggy to a hard stop to get the buggy to rotate quickly coming off a short fast section. In 2WD, too much brakes and you spin out on weight transfer. In 4WD, too much brakes and the buggy is just slow through here. You want to use the brakes to get the buggy pointed towards the right-hand side of the Sic-Surface logo at the start of the moguls as this is the best line through section 5 (Moguls).
Sections 5 & 6
The infamous Moguls, about as unforgiving as your Dad when you've burnt through 30 sets of tires for one weekends worth of racing, Oh Wait...! The Moguls are hard, and even harder when the buggy isn't quite setup right with the shocks. It is easy to get this section wrong, but when you get it right, it feels so good. The best line is through the large gap between the first and second row away from the drivers stand. Be mindful though of the 3 moguls that sit at the end before the hairpin of section 6. You want to use the brakes to get the buggy to flick through the corner fast but if you over do it on the braking you will end up getting unsettled in the end of the moguls and end up offline or worse for the hairpin. This corner sets up the sequence of 7-8-9-10-11. You want to get the buggy pointed straight as quick as you can to line yourself up for the double.
Sections 7, 8 & 9
This section of the track is so much fun when you get this right. You can attack this section many ways but personally I find the fastest way is to hug the track tight after the hairpin. You want to jump long on the double and land just in front of the up face of the table-top of 8, This scrubs off the most speed and is the fastest through this section after a long time of watching overlay footage to verify this. This allows the buggy to pop over the table-top smoothly without needing much extra work with the throttle to clear the jump and downside the table-top smoothly. You want to land the table-top on the down ramp and have the buggy angled towards the roller of 9. This may involve hitting the table-top of 8 on a very slight angle or giving the buggy some whip finesse in the air to get this right. You want to be turning the whole way through the hump of 9 and let the buggy flow out to the middle of the top then flow to the outside on the downside to set up the section of 10 & 11.
Sections 10 & 11
This corner is a bit awkward; it's a fairly sharp corner with a table-top straight after that is tough to clear. I start turning fairly early as after the hump, the buggy should be out wide allowing you to have a good entry angle for the turn to carry as much speed as possible to clear the table-top. This should allow you to sit the buggy fairly tight and to the right so just be careful to give yourself some distance to the pipes. Landing this smoothly and most importantly straight, will help set you up for the triple at section 12.
Sections 12, 13, 14 & 15
Now you've done all the work through the rhythm section to get here and you think its over - Yeah, Nah! You're not done yet (Paul Mason, I'm talking to you here). The largest jump on the track and the jump that is the furthest away from you. This jump is so easy to get wrong and sometimes, it won't bite you too hard and you'll only loose a tenth or two of a second. Or you can completely mess it up and have to wait for the marshal to wait for every other driver to pass you, cause you crashed here lap one (sorry a bit of PTSD here).
Between landing the tabletop of 11 you want to go full throttle then onto the brakes on the up face to scrub all that speed and get the nose down. Getting the nose down will help adjust the buggy better mid-air and make it less susceptible to wind. You want to get the buggy nose down on the down ramp and be pointing towards the corner of 13 very early to be able to straight line this sections of 13-14, This is a lap time changer here, get this right and you're on for a good lap. If you are on the outside of the triple, don't panic, just get the buggy angled on the up face of the triple to get the buggy aligned for the corner easier on the down ramp. There is a hump towards the middle-outside of 13 and if you end up wide it will hurt you a lot and can easily end up in the pipe before 14. Section 14 is fairly simple and you want the buggy to flow out wide on the exit and up the berm onto the Speedy RC logo to carry the best line and speed for the straight which flows through to 15. The last corner before the straight is a bit deceiving, a small portion of the apex sticks out and is easy to hit, so I tend to let the buggy keep flowing and go about 2 feet wide of the apex and just start applying the throttle more aggressively onto the straight.
The Main Straight (back of track)
The back straight is a bold face LIAR! The straight has a kink halfway down and if you are too wide on the start of the straight you are gonna end up in the pipe and wonder...HOW?! I like to just stick along the line of the grids as this is the easiest to see and follow and sets you up for the fast sweeper of 16.
Sections 16 & 17
The fast sweeper of 16, attack this too hard and better hope there isn't someone's hobby shop set up behind the fence for you to crash into. This is a long sweeper that has a few quirks. There is a pretty rough surface on entry and if you get the line wrong, it's easy to end up traction rolling. You may want to tap the brakes before you enter the corner very slightly then let the buggy roll and flow through the turn with a little throttle keeping the buggy about 2-feet off the pipes. Towards the end of 16, I let the buggy start to drift out slightly giving me a bit more room for the turn of 17. I drift out wide, then under brakes get the buggy to pitch and rotate to hit the apex late of 17 and pointed on a slight angle for the kicker jump. I hit this on an angle to align the buggy for 18. On the exit of 17, I'll blip the throttle, then a dab on the brakes to keep the nose down, as you don't want a lot of air here, you just want to pop over the jump. Go too slow however and its a lot harder to get over the ramp and will negatively effect your times.
Sections 18 & 19
As i've already got the buggy lined up for 18 over the hump, this section is pretty basic. Hard on the throttle after landing the ramp then back on the brakes for the dropped hairpin. The drop will push you out a little wide on exit which is fine as this isn't really a hairpin that you need to flick the buggy. You want to flow the buggy out of 18, Wash out towards the pipe on the exit keeping about 1 meter away and place the buggy on the white section of the NathoBuilds Logo. Doing this will allow you to carry the speed through 19. The corner of 19 I find the buggy wants to under steer through, so I will ease of the throttle to pitch the nose down a little to get the buggy turned and back on the throttle with the buggy pointing towards the end of the Chargers logo on the berm; a touch left of the emoji.
Last turn and this will set your line up for the last jumps of the lap. With the buggy pointed towards the end of the Chargers logo, go hard on the throttle on the exit of 19 then back on the brakes just before the edge of the berm. Start to turn in then when on the berm turn hard left (4 berms in total - all left turns - Hmmmm). You want to keep the buggy under the 'bolt' of Chargers RC logo. Use the berm to flick the buggy through the turn then let momentum carry you through the exit and pointed straight in the left 1/2 part of the track (there is a massive hole in the jump covered by carpet which makes the buggy unsettled if you hit it) towards the ski Jump and get back on the throttle full stick into the up face of 21.
Sections 21 & 22
Just before the up-face, you want to get back hard on the brakes for the up ramp. You want the nose of the buggy as flat as possible without under jumping the jump which is very easy to do. This is the better option to over jumping though so when in doubt, under jump this. Getting the amount of speed here is hard as depending on where you stand on the drivers stand, the up-face is blind so getting the timing right is hard. If you do manage to get it right, get the nose pointed down slightly to land the jump smoothly then get back on the throttle, but not too hard initially otherwise you may wheel stand. Back on throttle you have a split-second decision to make, go safe and use the brakes on the last double to scrub the speed and downside the jump. Or if you have the buggy set up well to flat land (only way to do this and be faster), you can hit the jump hard then use the brakes in the air to keep the nose flat and jump long and land before the timing loop. This is faster when done right and also makes for a good passing move if you can pull it off safely. For everyday racing, I'd go for option number 1 and play it safe. It's the most consistent way to land the double.
Now that you've landed the double its full throttle to the timing line and repeat all those steps again another dozen times. On this track, smoothness is key and will lead the better consistency, and on a track like this, that is what will win races!