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Old 05-26-2011, 06:42 AM
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The post about Knox Mountain Hillclimb made me recall a fascinating old online debate in one of the boards in my native language. The debate was between two of the top racing drivers in my country: O'n Yakobson and Re'm Samuel. Both used to instruct toghether on race tracks in France, but than turned on seperate buisness ways in Israel itself. Also, Rem's experience is in road rallying while O'n comes from the field of track driving (he is also an instructor in Russel Racing, California).

I've been poundering on whether to bring up and the said post made me decide on it. The debate start when instructor in Rem's company had him write an article on the differences in driving style between the disciplines of road rallying (tarmac) and track driving and also on their application on road driving. O'n responded and a fascinating debate unfolded. It gave me new insights, as I hope it might do around here, and it's also a refreshing notion of how motorsport takes place across the atlantic.

The differences between Rally driving and Track Driving

What are the differences? Why is one better than the other? Is there really a big difference between the two? The answer is yes. Let's explain: Track Driving includes driving on all sorts of closed tracks but, when talking about track driving, we talk about a school of thought that teaches driving based on Salon and Formula race-track driving.

Rally driving is percieved, by mistake, as gravel and dune racing (the "Paris-Dakar" Rally and alike) or, in layman terms, as driving a turbocharged Impreza on gravel roads while sliding the car. Well, this is not true, for the track or rally stage, and I explain.

The track has pros and unfortunately a lot of cons too. Track driving is the most accurate sort of driving. The accuracy on the track is important because the drivers go around the same track over and over, they know every inch of it and have to drive as accurately as possible to shave off another tenth of a second. The accuracy can be practiced through the drivers' knowledge of the track and it's corners.

The same accurate driving style is the downside and can be dangerous if applied on the public road. The reason is that the road includes surprises, bends which I'm not always as fimilar with, water and other foilages, oncoming traffic and other troubles so I can't rely on the safety gap that actually does not exist in track driving. Rally driving, unlike track driving, is done on closed public roads, tarmac or dirt, with cars that are basically road cars that have been altered for racing. This kind of driving simulates your everyday road driving at the best way because it's done on roads just like those you and I take when we go for work or for a trip.

Rally driving divides into dirt and tarmac races. Road-rallying (tarmac), in which yours truelly has won the French championship twice, is a race on public roads which gives the best base for teaching safe road driving and performance driving. Driving based on the Rallying discipline is based on proper driving, car control and anticipation of various conditions that don't exist on the track like sharp corners (a 90-degree corner is like a hairpin on the track), uphill and downhill inclines, gorges, rocks, sidewalks (on the track there are run-off areas), etc...

This is why, for instance, the rallying technique allows to enter a corner in a way that allows for a greater ability to react to hazards (which in actual races is done by sliding the car and on the road by turning the wheel in a way that allows to make corrections in case of a surprise or mistake) relative to track driving which doesn't notice the limitations of the public roads. In dirt rallying there is also a stress on fun and sliding and controling the car. To sum it all up, rally driving is the best driving style for simulating your everyday driving style. Track driving is good as an experience for realizing the dreams of want-to-be "Formula" Drivers.

Re'm

Track Driving and It's Different Applications
There surely are differences between track driving and rally driving. There are similar differences between driving on a closed track and driving in a "track" style on the public roads. As one who belongs to the " school of thought that teaches driving based on Salon and Formula race-track driving" I will explain further: On the circuit which has been driven dozens if not hundreds of time (per day!) the method verilly to utilize all the possible space and drive as accurately as possible. The driving style is more refined and smooth than in rallying, but leaves no safety gap for road driving. No one will ever drive like this on the road!

In both styles, every sane driver wouldl leave an appropriate reserve for possible mistakes. In track-based road driving style there is also a stress on surprises like sharp corners, ellevation changes, cliffs and all other problems related to the public road.

The main difference is that the track driver works with the car rather than against it, as in rally driving. Furthermore, the track driving technique is based on the concept of "slow in, fast out", meaning that the speed coming into the corner is "sacrificed" for a line that will allow to open the steering and accelerate as early as mid-corner, which means that in any unforseen event it's possible not to open the steering and/or throttle and maintain a sufficient safety gap, as in cases like a decreasing-radius corner, succesive corners or cars on the outside line.

Rally driving is based on sliding the car into the corner or turning it in a provocative manner that requires skill and a closer brush with the limit, but does not nessecaily facilitates faster driving, not to mention safe driving. The other techniques are quite similar. In both styles there is a stress on planning and observation, in both there should be a stress on leaving a suficient reserve for safety on the public road. With all do respect for Re'm (and there is lots of it!) saying that applying this kind of driving style on the street is dangerous is simply inappropriate demagogy.

And just to be clear, rally driving technique is not owned by one school while track driving is the realm of another. We also do rally courses with a distinct stress on rallying techniques. In fact, leaving the traditional rallying techniques aside, it is in fact the stress of accurate driving that made all of our rally drivers faster.

O'n.

Rem's response:
"I'm not saying that track driving is dangerous!! I'm saying that road rallying is more suitable for road driving. It's a fact that the actual races are on public roads. There is little sliding going on when rallying on tarmac so it's not true to say that it involves sliding the car, surely not on tarmac. The driving is smooth, all while sacrificing corner entry speed for a proper exit and while maintaining the right reserve of grip. The subject of sliding is just what my article was meant to show. Rally driving is the most suitable driving style for the public road. Sliding is for people who want to slide, not for learning proper driving.

I personally know a French Formula Renault champion that flew off of the road in a rally stage due to a very little surprise because he did not maintain the proper safety gap.
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Last edited by Astraist; 05-26-2011 at 06:44 AM.
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Old 05-26-2011, 06:42 AM
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On's response:
Dear Re'm, I have no idea or care as to why you turned this into a personal rebuttel between us (actually I do have an idea, but never mind). In your first article you wrote and I quote: "The same accurate driving style is the downside and can be dangerous if applied on the public road" only to have renounced it on your later response? I can't help it that you wrote this.

The fact that I come from track driving, based on maximum exploitation of the conditions, does not mean that this is the driving style applied on roads, let alone the driving style taught to others. Track driving is more than just cornering lines, it's about late braking and, indeed, utter acquaintence with the road. Therefore, based on our lesser knowledge of any particular road, we cannot drive it like we do the track.

We both had a lot of chances of driving/instructing/debating toghether and I know your driving style, as you do know mine. The main differences between our driving styles are in the rapidness of turning the wheel into corner and the manner in which the car's weight is distributed over the two outside wheels. This is a significant difference, especially in competitive road driving (rallying), but neither of us teaches competitive driving on public roads. Advanced driving is a different thing.

Yes, I did take a rally driving course with you in GET, France at 1997, where I later instructed as a chief instructor. But even before that, at 1993 to '96, I passed several tuitions and raced professionally in the US, where I also instructed (at Russel Racing at Laguna Seca in 1996). I did learn a lot in France, I will tell you that. I had a great time and learned new things. The main technique I learned was how to slide the car into the corner, which helped me make the best out of my Peugeot 205 GTI. I assume you recall our distinctive opinions on driving, which originate from the different background of Lior and myself relative to yours.

Those very arguements and our experience helped us devise a method of driving which is based on the smoothest and most accurate performance and the fastest possible driving in the given safety allowances that will leave a big reserve for any possible mistake. It is through my various abroad travels as an automotive journalist, in a vast collection of European roadways, and I'm still here with you. Seriously, in spite of unknown roads; tightening and succesive corners, as well oncoming traffic, poteholes and crests, never have I found myself on the opposite lane or shoulder of the road, which I can't say for all of my colleagues.

I've told my colleague about this thread and we have come to the conclusion that since there is no serious sliding on tarmac relative to gravel, road rallying is more like track driving. This can also be illustrated in the WRC, where the smoother drivers are faster. Nevertheless, there are differences in how the car is turned into the corner, more than in things like cornering lines, planning, anticipation or what not. Since proper track driving is not applicable on the road for said safety reasons, nor me neither any rational driver will behave like this on the road. The circuit is a different story. However, some of the track driving techniques can be advantagous on the road, as well as parallel rallying techniques. The difference is more of an attitude rather than the actual performance. Every driver has his style just like some cars prefer the refined driving styles while others like being abused.

From our experience, it's easier to learn how to slide than how not to slide. The point is that sliding techniques are much clearer than proper asphalt-driving techniques. In many cases the temptation of sliding the car (on tarmac and less so on gravel) is great and is also a good fun and to some it gives a greater feeling of safety (by always having the front wheels turning while the sliding rear wheels be the ones tucking the car into the corners) but it's necessarily less accurate and fast since the amount of sliding cannot always be controlled in the most scientific manner.

Of course there are exceptions, tarmac-driving masters like Re'm that turned this method into their practice, but it takes much more than merely knowing the technique in order to perform it neatly. It takes balls/confidence/co-operative car - all true. Some road cars refuse to follow this driving style and others flourish in it.

http://sf.tapuz.co.il/shirshur-207-27383512.htm
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Old 05-26-2011, 04:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Astraist View Post
I personally know a French Formula Renault champion that flew off of the road in a rally stage due to a very little surprise because he did not maintain the proper safety gap.
I saw Kimi slide into a few ditches in WRC recently as well...
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Old 05-27-2011, 06:27 AM
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I guess I'm not sure I see the controversy here

Or even a debate... other than to quell misconceptions about either discipline.

Am I missing something?
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Old 05-27-2011, 04:24 PM
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I'll try and shed some light on this. The two people in this argument are race drivers and race driving trainers (each of them leads a different company in my country). One has a background in rally championships on tarmac, one with experience on closed circuits (like us). They argue on the differences in the driving styles between the track and rally stage (both on tarmac), and on which of the two is better on the road.

We in Israel, have courses that teach road drivers to practice race driving techniques for safer road driving and sometimes for the sheer act of applying performance driving principles on winding public roads. The argument is whether a rally driving style or a track driving style is better suited for either of the two.

The rally driver competes on actual public roads and in cars based on normal road cars. He also does not know the stage as well as the track driver knows the track, and cannot stretch the limit as much. However, O'n argues that a track driver too will maintain some "reserve" on the public road, simply because he will never be as familiar with it as he is with the track, and that track driving puts a greater stress on important elements like smoothness, which are less significant in rallying.

The practical difference between the two is that where the track driver "eases" the car into the corner, the rally driver waits and than turns the wheel much more rapidly. The latter method has the advantage of better vision around the corner, with the disadvantage of jerking the car needlessly.
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Old 05-28-2011, 04:30 PM
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Without regard for the poster's
agenda let me share something John Buffum said, ""What you have to understand is that, in a nutshell, racing and rallying are really two very different disciplines. A rally driver will do 1,000 corners, every one different, at different speeds, so his skill lies in adaptation. A race driver will do 10 corners 100 times, so his skill is duplications. Both drivers have to be consistent, but the race driver duplicates."
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Old 05-29-2011, 03:57 PM
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Are you sure they are so distinctive? I do both rallying and track driving and I find these distinctions to be quite pedantic. In action, tarmac rally driving (and even rallying on gravel!) is much like racing. The main difference is that where the track driver turns earlier and eases into the corner, the rally driver turns a bit later and more rapidly; that's just about it.
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Old 05-30-2011, 11:22 AM
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Originally Posted by Astraist View Post
Are you sure they are so distinctive? I do both rallying and track driving and I find these distinctions to be quite pedantic. In action, tarmac rally driving (and even rallying on gravel!) is much like racing. The main difference is that where the track driver turns earlier and eases into the corner, the rally driver turns a bit later and more rapidly; that's just about it.
Really? I'm sure you know more than someone with 40 (yes, forty) years rally experience and 35 years driver training experience - in all disciplines. And that's just me. John Buffum has an even more extensive, and internationally successful, C.V. than do I.

Care to share some in-car video of a rally stage you've driven?
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Old 06-01-2011, 06:55 AM
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Why the hard feelings? All I said was that these driving styles are very much alike at heart. They also encorprate the same basics and ground rules of effective driving: Proper seating and control over the pedals/steering, proper use of vision, smoothness and accuracy, anticipation, etc. The differences between them are pedantic distinctions which might mean a lot to a driver proficient of one of the disciplines, but are in fact very subtle when you look at big picture. And that's not me claiming this. It appears strickly in the discussion that I translated:

Quote:
"The difference is more of an attitude rather than the actual performance. Every driver has his style just like some cars prefer the refined driving styles while others like being abused[...]there are differences in how the car is turned into the corner, more than in things like cornering lines, planning, anticipation or what not [...] In both styles there is a stress on planning and observation, in both there should be a stress on leaving a suficient reserve for safety on the public road.."
All I'm saying that it's more alike than some people think. There is, in fact, a process where each driving style become more like the other: Rally drivers realize they have to be smoother and reduce the amount of sliding in their driving, while track drivers learn that in some cars and/or corners, the smoothness of turn-in has be somewhat compromised for the car to take a set.
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Last edited by Astraist; 06-01-2011 at 07:07 AM.
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