How to drive your car on a track day

- For the uninitiated, driving your own car on a racing circuit can seem daunting. We’ve put together a guide so that you can get the most out of a track day and stay safe at the same time.

So, you’ve signed up for your first ever track day, and you’re ready to let your car loose on the race circuit. In order to avoid unnecessary stress, it’s paramount to prepare yourself and your car in advance.

The All-New Hyundai i30 N launched in 2017 at the 67th Frankfurt International Motor Show. Inspired by the race track but equipped for the everyday, the i30 N is Hyundai Motor’s first mass-produced high-performance car. This makes it the perfect race track companion.

In the following video, racing champion and Hyundai test driver Gabriele Tarquini puts the i30 N TCR through its paces on the four-kilometre Autodromo Vallelunga in Italy.

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Gabriele Tarquini takes the i30 N TCR for a spin around Autodromo Vallelunga

We’ve put together the following seven tips to ensure you’re prepared for your very first track day.

1. Select a racetrack

Europe is home to some of the most exhilarating racetracks in the world, many of which are open to the public throughout the year for different driving events. Of these, the most famous is surely Germany’s Nürburgring, which features 73 corners spread across 20.8 km of tarmac. Its famous Nordschleife track is a toll road open to the public, making it the perfect venue for weekend racing.

2. Prepare your car and perform a safety check

Before you hit the racetrack, you should ensure your car is up to the task of flat-out performance by checking the condition of your tyres and their pressures, as well as the brake pads. You should also ensure your car’s fluids are topped up. As you’ll be tearing around corners, you shouldn’t forget to remove any loose items from the cabin, either. Finally, don’t forget to fill your car up with petrol!

3. Sit properly

Your seat back should be upright and you should be able to rest your wrists on the top of the steering wheel with a slight bend to your arms, with your shoulders still touching the seat. You should be able press down on the brake pedal fully, while still being able to bend your leg. Sitting lower forces drivers to keep their vision up, so it is critical that you do this.

4. Steer correctly

Steering your car around a race track is different to driving on a road. Instead of feeding the steering wheel through your fingers as your turn, you should keep your hands in the ‘9 and 3’ clock positions at all times. This ensures you are able to keep the car pointed in a straight direction.

5. Know the driving line

Before you start racing, you should drive around the track twice at normal speed to master the route, possibly with an instructor if one is available.

The driving line is the fastest path around the track – but it often differs from what you might think. Helpfully, most tracks feature cones laid out in certain areas to guide drivers and fall into three categories.

A turn-in cone represents the point on the track where the car changes direction. Cones representing the apex mark the innermost point of the corner. Finally, the exit cone indicates the spot where drivers can go pedal-to-the-metal and accelerate at full speed.

The i30 N is built for cornering, thanks to its performance features like N Corner Carving Differential (Electronically Controlled Limited Slip Differential). This allows the car’s wheels to turn a different speeds by applying different amounts of torque depending on the load transfer from the inner to the outer front axle wheel.

The N Corner Carving Differential reduces wheel slippage in specific conditions, and minimises understeering on cornering, increasing the maximum corning speed.

6. Learn how to brake

As you head into a braking zone, it’s important to apply your brakes firmly early on and then ease up afterwards. A common mistake novice drivers make is braking too hard and too late, which can cause the car to spin.

7. Use all of the track

Although drivers should be minded to steer clear of bigger curbs, which can upset the car or push them off line, you shouldn’t shy away from smaller curbs, rumble strips or painted stripes.

You should hug apexes tightly, otherwise you’ll risk running out of track at a corner exit. A few inches out can add up to tenths of a second per lap, which can make a huge difference on your overall lap time.

So, now you’re ready to head to the race track. Good luck!