This week I bring you a guide to the sometimes-confusing FIA Global Pathway from Formula 4 to Formula One.
As well as trying to explain that you will find some great tips on racecraft, a link to a comprehensive motorsport dictionary and whether the 2024 Ford Mustang Dark Horse is any good as a track car.
I also have news on the candidates for the SCCA’s Club Spec class, impressions of driving an all-electric single-seater and a track where amateurs can find the limit.
All this and more in this week’s edition of the Racecraft & Race Cars Roundup on Motorsport Prospects.
Racecraft Tips & Techniques
Grassroots Motorsports explains how to shorten lap times–one section of track at a time. “Improving lap times when self-coaching is kind of like eating an elephant. You have to start small. Without a detailed plan, that goal is going to be really hard to achieve.”
In a recent edition of Ross Bentley’s Speed Secrets newsletter, he explains how to come to grips with a new car or track. “I drove the car, not the track. By focusing on driving the car to its limits – even beyond the limit – I learned what the track needed. If I’d focused on driving the perfect line, as given to me by someone else, it would have taken longer to learn what the car was capable of.”
In the second installment of OptimumG’s Q&A video series above, Bruno Finco, one of the company’s research and development engineers, answers questions about vehicle setup and design. Topics discussed during the video include how to calculate the correct spring stiffness for a Baja car, how to set the optimal damping ratios for bump and rebound, and the best setup changes to address low speed cornering issues.
In the subscriber-only edition of On Racing Drivers by Terence Dove he makes the provocative statement that racing drivers and evil – do you have it? “Great drivers seem to be driven by a glorious kind of darkness. You can see it in how they start races, how they overtake and how they defend. They take their opponents to the limits, and often breach those limits themselves.”
Samir Abid of Your Data Driven has put together an excellent Motorsports Dictionary that you will find to be quite helpful if you tend to confuse early apex with late apex or are not sure what KPI means. “The cheatsheet isn’t just a static list. It’s designed to be an interactive tool, with hyperlinks allowing you to explore related terms and even deep-dive into articles and podcasts if you wish to learn more.”
Race Car & Series Developments
Porsche is planning to roll out with reliability-related updates to its 963 prototype for the 2024 FIA World Endurance Championship and IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship seasons, with developments focused on several key areas according to the manufacturer’s director of LMDh factory motorsport according to Sportscar 365.
“Our weak points are still the driveability of the car; that’s one thing. Performance-wise, it’s not so much to re-homologate the whole thing but we do also have reliability problems. That’s basically the main thing we are working on.“
Here are the contenders for the SCCA Club Spec class. “The results from the latest survey spoke, and they spoke loudly. Three cars were head and shoulders above the rest and have been selected by the SCCA Board of Directors and SCCA Staff to provide an initial focus for the concept moving forward.”
Mazda MX-5 (NC, model years 2006-’15)
We can beat you to the punch – of course SCCA picked the MX-5, Miata Is Always The Answer. But there’s a reason for the trope, and it’s because the roadster is versatile, affordable, and fun. It’s great out of the box, but has room for upgrades and improvements.
Scion FR-S/Subaru BRZ (1st Gen, model years 2013-’16)
In a mild surprise, the survey results had a clear cut second-place finisher: the first-generation “Twins” of the Subaru BRZ/Scion FR-S. Like the NC MX-5, the base cars are now relatively affordable and available. The package is proven in the “fun” category, especially with minor modifications.
Ford Mustang GT (S197 4.6L, model years 2005-’09)
Let’s be real – this is the anti-hero for the MX-5 and the combined entity known as the Twins. It’s available, it’s got plenty of horsepower, and it roars. This is the quintessential ground pounder that’s a proven enthusiast favorite on the autocross course and on track.
In the September 7th edition of the Sustainable Motorsport Roundup I posted a video of a lap of Zolder aboard the all-electric ERA F110E race car. The driver in that video, Oz Maliphant graciously took the time to do a write-up of his experience for Motorsport Prospects. The lap took place in early September 2023. A big thank you to Karl Vanderkelen of the ERA Championship in providing the photos accompanying this article.
In Autosport’s PalmerSport (Bedford Autodrome) review, they call it the airfield circuit where amateurs can find the limit. “If you’re a racing enthusiast who fancies having a go but haven’t yet taken the plunge, a trip to Bedford could provide the nudge you need.”
Grassroots Motorsports looks at International GT and what they describe as pro cars, pro vibe, easy access. “There are a lot of GT3-spec cars in this country, and series like the International GT and GT Celebration offer another outlet to exercise these great cars on some of North America’s best tracks. In addition, there are different categories to choose from for the pro and amateur driver.”
The organisers of TCR South America and TCR Spain have announced a cooperation between the two series, with the first step being that the champions will get to race in respective series. “Under the agreement signed by the two categories, the champion of TCR South America will get assistance to race in the 2024 TCR Spain season. At the same time, the winner of the Spanish series will also secure its presence in selected South American races in the following season.”
Feeder Series have put together a comprehensive guide to the various single-seater development series on the FIA global pathway to F1. “Drivers in the junior motorsport ranks will encounter increasingly powerful, higher-downforce machines to test their abilities as they move up the ladder. Understanding the differences between the different junior series cars can be difficult, so Feeder Series is here to break them down.”
Auto Action is reporting that Motorsport Australia is shortly to announce it has given its blessing and support to a five-round FIA Formula 4 series in Australia next year. “China-based company Top Speed, which promotes the FIA UAE Formula 4 Championship (which runs across January and February) is believed to be behind the plans to ship its fleet of F4 cars to Australia for a five-round series, expected to kick off in April.”
Spec MX-5 Challenge, LLC. has announced that the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) has adopted Spec MX-5 (SMX) to become a national class within the United States’ largest club racing organization from 2024 onwards. “Founded by Tom Martin at the end of 2017, Spec MX-5 Challenge presented by Toyo Tires has prided itself as THE Driver Development Series, seeing numerous drivers climb up the club racing ladder to become paid professional racers.”