Guide: How To Negotiate Traffic in Endurance Races

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With the Nürburgring 24 Hours iRacing Special Event taking place this weekend, traffic management is going to be a critical element for all participants. Here are a few pointers for trouble-free lapping.

Everyone has been there in a multi-class endurance race, whether in a faster or slower class: Either you lose a lot of time at an inopportune moment behind a slower class car, or an overly optimistic driver in the top class just performs runs out of patience when trying to lap you in a slower class - or you have done that yourself. It can derail your race - and that of the other car - in a split second.

On wide open tracks like Daytona, Le Mans or Spa-Francorchamps, it is not as much of an issue to pass slower cars. But this weekend's Nürburgring 24 Hours in iRacing is much more challenging in this regard. Chances are that those of you who take part in the event will get put into a split with a lot of slower cars.

GT3 cars will be the top class of the event, but there will also potentially be Porsche Cup, GT4, TCR and GR86 cars to weave around on the Ring. So, as it is part and parcel of the challenge with endurance races, here are some pointers on traffic management - so hopefully we hear less horror stories of lapping cars going terribly wrong.

In the Fastest Class​

This advice works for any class, not just GT3 or whatever the fastest class may be, as well as any of the other classes where there is at least one class slower. For instance, TCR will be faster than the GR86. You will have plenty of time on the Nordschleife before you encounter your first bit of traffic, with an average GT3 lap time being around 90 seconds quicker than a GR86, so it will be roughly six laps - almost a full stint - before you encounter traffic. Unless cars have to pit for repairs, that is, which is likely.

Either way, it may be very tempting to just pressure them to make way, but you need to exercise restraint. It is the responsibility of the faster car to facilitate a safe overtake. Read the car's behaviour ahead of you, anticipate your closing speed and play it very safe. You have a power advantage, so you can ideally pass them on a straight.

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If you get stuck behind slower cars, try to get a good exit as soon as a flat-out section looms.

If you catch a car during a sequence of corners, you often cannot force a gap to appear. You may be bleeding time in those cases, but the last thing you should do is barge them off the track - a few seconds through some corners is less of a loss than an additional pit stop for repairs, after all. So how do you go about getting past as early as possible?

My suggestion if you are stuck behind a slower car in a sequence of corners is: Plan ahead to position your car before a straight or flat-out section to get as good an exit as possible. Sacrifice the entry like you are about to start a qualifying lap, then be patient, wait until it is safe, and then floor it out of the turn.

The Dreaded Flashing​

One element that is ever-present in endurance races is the flashing of headlights. Some people use this with annoying frequency, but the intention of it is to inform a car you are about to lap of your presence.

However, it is also frequently used in order to distract the driver ahead, whether they are getting lapped or it is for position. This is usually frowned upon and actually against iRacing's sporting code. If you are in the middle of a fast sequence of corners during the night and you flash your headlights, it could put off the driver ahead and they end up jumping a kerb and take out both of you.

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The traffic ahead will know you are close, so exercise some restraint with flashing your headlights.

If you must use the flasher, wait until you are within a second of the car in front and make sure you are not both negotiating a corner when you flash your lights. Effectively, it is there to say "Hey, just letting you know I am here so you are not caught unaware when I come to pass you".

The headlights being on during the night will already be enough of an indication that someone is behind, and the game will also inform the driver ahead that a faster car is approaching. So in truth, headlight flashing is normally not necessary. But if you have to do it, do not be a flashing bully.

In a Slower Class​

As much as it is the faster class car's responsibility to safely navigate its way past a slower class car, there is some expectation from the slower class car. First and most important, do not let off the throttle - the faster class already has the legs on you. The only time you get out of the way is if the car is in the same class as you.

So if a faster class car is approaching, the best thing to do is to remain predictable, keep taking the natural racing line and keeping an eye in your mirror to anticipate where the faster car is going to go. The lapping car will pick a side of the track to go on, they will get alongside and if you are approaching a corner, that is when you get off the throttle - but not when they are still behind you.

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If a faster class is lapping you, then you have no obligation to jump out of the way. They will have to navigate safely around you.

Another thing you can do - although not in iRacing as it does not have this feature - is to use indicators to tell the faster car which side of the track you are going to stick on. This may be tricky as there seems to be no universal agreement on what the indicators mean, whether it is communicating to the faster car where you are going or where they should go.

Logically, you would think the former as that is how it works on the public road. Since interpretations can differ, it is advisable to use the indicators when the faster car has not quite closed in on you, and be obvious with your intention to move to the side you are indicating.

Happy Racing!​

If drivers followed these few ground rules and cooperated with each other across classes, then it should be a win-win all around. Be predictable, do not divebomb, and avoid unneeded flashing - then there should be no issues and a good race for everyone on track.

Any advice you can give to your fellow sim racer about traffic management in endurance racing? Tell us on Twitter at @OverTake_gg or in the comments down below!
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Luca [OT]
Biggest sim racing esports fan in the world.


You have to respect every driver in the field, no matter the class, as Allan Mc Nish* says any one could end your race, if you have a faster car then wait for the right time, and if you have a slower car then stick to the expected racing line and the faster car will find it's way through, if you try and accommodate other drivers without knowing what they're going to do and if they've got the message it'll likely end up costing both of you time.
So, if you're faster then go past when it's a clear pass, if you're in a slower class stick to your line and let the faster driver do her/his thing (unfortunately in sweeping left, right bends it can cost the faster class few tenths)

* I'm pretty sure it was Allan who said this, and it makes sense as he's been at Le mans an few times!

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