Long ago I was taught about the difference in accuracy and precision, but I’d never really applied it outside of scientific pursuits. But as an iRacer, I began to realize that the racing version of accuracy and precision is important in progressing from beyond a novice level.

Sometimes racing is neither accurate nor precise!

Sometimes racing is neither accurate nor precise!

For myself and I’m sure most others, when starting out you want to be fast and win, at least occasionally. The trouble was that I was willing to cope with a high amount of risk in order to be able to stay with others who were faster. Inevitably what happens is the faster novices would crash and have to reset and, while progressing up the charts, I would also end up crashing. The result, in a lot of cases, was the old ‘tortoise and hare’ situation where more careful drivers always ended up over-achieving and us wannabes were left frustrated and disappointed. Lesson learned.

“What the ancients called a clever fighter is one who not only wins, but excels in winning with ease. … He wins his battles by making no mistakes. Making no mistakes is what establishes the certainty of victory, for it means conquering an enemy that is already defeated.”                                 -Sun Tzu

I began to not focus so much my placement on the leaderboard, but that I was consistently hitting my braking points, and not mashing the pedals, but taking extra care to be consistent. The end result was not only less incidents during the races, and generally finishing higher up on the leader board than my pace would have predicted, but I was also enjoying it more. I was more relaxed, and oddly enough this began to result in me turning my personal best lap times during races. I was not striving for the perfect lap but trying to drive within my limits, and thus was paradoxically able to get much closer to the perfect lap…

A driver who races with precision – that is always hitting their braking points and being consistent from lap to lap – will almost certainly outperform a driver who is generally faster, but less consistent. When a driver is pushing their limits and willing to accept a certain level of error, the price to be paid in time lost to spins and resetting the car, will vastly outweigh the gains made by being a second or two faster on a successful lap. Therefore one must always strive for control first to achieve consistency.


In many cases a problem with getting precise (consistent laptimes) can be due to a setup not suited to the drivers driving style or abilities. I often struggle with setups I download since they are suited to people with more talent for dealing with oversteer or with more advanced threshold braking capability. If you are not able to dial in your own settings with confidence, look for advice or search for ‘non-alien’ or safe setups, until you can confidently put together a string of laptimes within a narrow window. Time trial sessions are great practice in this regard.

Once consistent lap times are accomplished it is easier to experiment with different lines, or carrying more speed through the turn, etc. in order to whittle your average time down in a controlled manner. Such a pattern of consistency will go a long way in achieving good race results early in your career, compared to drivers who strive for speed first but lose so much time to errors.

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I would really like to hear Rich Towler’s or Shawn Purdy’s opinions on this. Shawn has been ridiculously fast since the first time he turned a wheel. His brother Chris is equally talented and their father helped create one of my all time favorite rFactor mods, the McLaren F1. Some people are just born getting “it”. The rest of us just hope to get a glimpse of what “it” is like, even if only for a lap or two.

Brad Morris
September 26th, 2009 at 12:05 am

I’ve found that turning the timing displays off usually improves my consistency.
When the displays are on I’ll just end up trying to beat the last time, or in an online practice trying to work my way up the standings, all of which usually results in a spin.
With the displays off I can focus on consistent lapping and not have to worry about times. It’s not essential to know the exact time whilst driving since you can ‘sense’ if you’ve done a quick lap (or a duff one). After a number of laps are completed I’ll drive into the pits to check my times.

Andrew Paterson
September 26th, 2009 at 8:40 am

It’s why I added a new page ‘history’ on my plugin for iRacing (THUD), this one display a delta timing on more than one lap and display average on 5/10/15/20 laps 😉
(I thinks I will add an average analysis by 5 laps so 1-5/6-10/11-15/16-20)

I do my practices a lot with this page and after I check the HTML export (laps chart).

Stephane Turpin
September 27th, 2009 at 2:10 pm

Great story Ray. I took a look at my stats history of race results and funny enough there is a direct relation to lower incidents and higher finishes… 🙂

I try to do just what you’ve said now and concentrate on being consistent and less on my lap times. I’ve been contemplating turning off all split time, F3, F1 HUD’s etc during races. I might try it to see if it helps me concentrate more on my driving. Maybe flick on the F3 once a lap, but that’s it.

Lincoln Miner
September 27th, 2009 at 5:01 pm

This is great in theory, not always so in practice. I always try to remind myself to race my way. This would usually translate with sooner break point, more controlled turn entry, hitting the apex and gradually applying trothle. Well within limits. This is the only way, for me at least, to get consistent time and results. Pushing hard might only represent a gain of .2 sec at the expense of control, good for Qual, pointless for race, past the 5th lap you do not absolutely need that .2 anymore.

But in race it gets way more complex as you get those novices as you mentioned (or even worse those who are very fast, do not qualify, start at the back and absolutely want to be first at the end of the first lap) overall slower than you, but way more aggressive at breaking point, way off the apex understeering and quick to oversteer when accelerating . To avoid letting them pass, no one wants to give a spot, or to avoid disaster you need to take risk, brake latter, accelerate sooner. This is when you are prompt to lose it, and usually do… at least this is my case 😉

Great article, hope a lot will apply those principles, thanks

Eric Chartrand
October 26th, 2009 at 5:36 pm

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