By Mike Garrison
A Moment with Mike is a weekly opinion column where LiveRC’s Mike Garrison gives his take on hot-button issues, general topics, and conversations within the RC industry. The views and opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of LiveRC.
For today’s “A Moment With Mike” I want to discuss the “Fast Lap Trap”. What is the Fast Lap Trap you ask? This is the trap that racers too often fall into where they sacrifice consistency and their overall finish by focusing solely on earning and/or trying to keep up with other drivers the fastest single lap during a race. Fast laps turned during a race can be impressive, and announcers (including myself) tend to put a lot of emphasis on a driver’s single fastest lap, but in all reality a single fast lap means absolutely nothing at the end of the race if there isn’t consistency to back it up.
I hear drivers constantly bragging in the pits saying, “Bro, did you see my fast lap, I was flying out there.” These drivers are quick to tell you how fast they were for one single lap, but they often leave out the part about how they finished 8th overall because they spent 5 other laps crashing, flipping, tumbling, and making dumb decisions trying to get that one fast lap.
If you are a racer looking to succeed, its important to focus less time on earning a single fast lap, and more time on earning a higher consistency rating and faster average laps.
A good example to prove my point is the recent A-Main finish from The Dirt Nitro Challenge. Ryan Maifield won the Pro Nitro Buggy A-Main with his fastest lap being a 29.97. Of the 15 drivers on the track, his fastest lap was only the 8th fastest of the group – nearly .5 seconds slower than the fastest lap of the race set by Ryan Lutz with a 29.47. Lutz, Ongaro, Phend, Canas, Tessmann, Boots, and Tebo all turned single faster lap times than Maifield, but it was Ryan’s 94.49% consistency rating and an average lap time of 31.325 (the fastest of the race) that earned him the Pro Nitro Buggy A-Main overall win by 30 seconds over second place.
It’s easy to fall into the “Fast Lap Trap” and get discouraged when we constantly hear racers in the pits bragging, and see on the results sheet that our fastest lap is “off pace” from your buddy, but until R/C racing goes to a 1-lap race format, quit worrying about who has fast lap! The best drivers in the world don’t win races because they are fast for one lap, they win races because they are consistently fast EVERY lap.
(Ignore fastest lap, and focus on consistency.)
I’m not saying the winner of a race can’t or won’t be the one to turn the single fastest lap, but it isn’t one single lap that wins races. If you want to improve your racing you must first learn to be consistent. Once you are consistent, then you can focus on being fast. Eventually you will be consistent and fast…and THAT is what wins races.