How Do Circuit Racers Adapt to Rally
Image credit: Jaanus Ree/Red Bull Content Pool

Silverstone To Sweden: How Do Circuit Racers Adjust To Rallying?

WRC

Fans worldwide are eagerly awaiting the release of EA Sports WRC, which is due to release on the 3rd of November 2023. Real-world rally drivers, such as Adrian Fourmaux, have endorsed the game as having genuine skill-building potential. But how can circuit racers adapt and enjoy this new rally game too?

MK2 Ford Escort. Image credit: DirtFish.com

It goes without saying that circuit racing and rally racing are two completely different disciplines of Motorsport. Whilst both include getting a car to the finish as quickly as possible, that’s where the similarities end. Circuit racing is a beautiful dance of skill and precision, whereas Rally is more of a heavy metal concert at 100mph. On gravel, dirt, snow, tarmac, or all of them in some cases.

EA Sports WRC invited Abbie Eaton, British GT driver and Grand Tour Racing driver, to test out their MK2 Escort Rally car. Professional Rally2 driver, Adrian Fourmaux, guided her and demonstrated the basics of what it takes to drive a rally car. Both in the EA Sports WRC game and in real life.

By the end of the video, Eaton was able to complete a scaled-down version of what a rally stage could look like, albeit with a slight mishap. But it is not just UK drivers that are lending their hand to the world of rally.

Dylan Murcott – IMSA To Rally ARA LN4

Starting out in Spec Miatas, Dylan Murcott went on to win two separate titles on the IMSA package. His first title came in 2015 in a Lamborghini Super Trofeo. Two years later, Murcott won the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge Series in a GT4 Porsche.

Dylan Murcott and teammate guiding home their GT4 Porsche for the brand’s 50th win. Image credit: Autoweek

One final part-time season of circuit racing in the NASCAR Xfinity series saw Murcott leave the tarmac and trade it for gravel. The COVID years, 2020 and 2021, saw Murcott adapt and change his skillset for the gravel and mud surfaces. Last year, he went for the LN4 title in his Subaru WRX rally car with co-driver, Andrew Sims.

“Pretty much every event that we finished we came in either second or first, so combined between the five events that we have finished, we came second three times, and have two wins. So that’s a pretty good history together with one another, especially in the competitive LN4 class.”

Dylan Murcott to DirtFish.com about his rallying experience
Dylan Murcott in the forest of New England. Image credit: DirtFish.com

Whilst a big crash and engine failure have kept him from a title, Murcott is looking like he could be contending some of the bigger Rally championships in years to come. WRC is, of course, the main aim. The EA Sports WRC game is the perfect launch pad if you do not happen to be a two-time IMSA champion, however.

Is Circuit Racing Skill Transferable To Rally?

Circuit racing technique pays little evidence to the sideways sliding of a rally. Car control, for example, is vital for both disciplines but applicable in very different ways. Understeer for example is treated with trail breaking on a circuit, but could send you off a cliff at an alarming speed if put into practice on the rally stage. Instead, the utilization of the handbrake is essential.

Keeping the rear of the car planted and stable is vital for lap time around the world circuits, however, on dirt, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Having the rear end lively and loose allows for the expansion of the rotation axis. It allows the car to change direction quickly and with more certainty.

The ‘short hold’ style of the handbrake usage on dirt is unique to the rally stages. The technique is known as the ‘Scandinavian flick’ and is used to rotate the rear of the car on a much tighter axis than a normal clutch kick could produce. Circuit racing obviously has no use for this technique so for drivers transitioning over from the circuits to the stages, WRC’s driver school would be a great place to learn this vital skillset.

Image credit: EA Sports

The newWRC game looks to set the standard in terms of off-road virtual racing, especially when it comes to real-life accuracy. Not only does the game offer you a detailed training regiment in the form of the WRC Rally school mode, but also lets you rise through the ranks of the slower classes if you want it to. This way, you should be able to pick up some essential rally driving techniques with ease.

WRC offers a broad range of cars and tracks with a dynamic range of weather and time-sensitive options. Make sure to check out OverTake’s first impressions of the preview build of the game as well as its full stage list.

Are you looking forward to EA Sports WRC? Let us know over on our Twitter @OverTake_gg or in the comments below!

Sports Journalism graduate from Solent Southampton University with a burning passion for motorsport. I've been sim racing virtually all my life, I started out with Toca 2 Touring Cars when I was very young and now attempt to compete in the likes of iRacing and Rfactor 2. I graduated University in July, and got married to my beautiful wife Rachel at the end of August.