Minor accomplishment this weekend

I managed to take top podium at The Ring for the first time against hard AI.
I had built up a 370Z to PI700 and it was feeling pretty tight so I ran the free race against the AI in it. I have been racing against that setting trying desperately to improve and I ALWAYS finished in the middle or towards the back. I was always going into the fence or completely spinning out eliminating my chances of running and staying in in the top 5. They always managed to establish a gap I couldn’t close. I have been focusing very hard on my braking and listening to the tires. Before I was hard charging into the corner and then braking hard but found that was costing me as I was either sliding into the wall or if I stayed on the track it left me no momentum on leaving the corner and I was playing catch up to the AI who seemed to “glide through” the turns and leave me behind even though I entered the turn faster.

I caught a lucky break and was able to get up near the front with no damage before the first turns and held in first 3 or 4 places all the way through to the Flugplatz and then the tires get warmed and I was able to take the lead for a time but kept swapping back and forth with the rest of the pack right behind.
My “all over the track” and wildly erratic driving style proved to be beneficial as that kept most of the pack at bay and behind me while I chased and traded with the leader who clearly had a higher top end than me in the straights but I was able to catch and sometimes pass in the corners. I did bobble a few turns and was passed and in 3rd or 4th a few times but was able to get back up to the 2 position fairly quickly.
My biggest break came in the second carousel where I was able to force the other car out of the line and up onto the flat top while I took the inside and came out screamingly fast and gained some more ground in the final turns. In the final straight the AI was steadily gaining on me despite my previous lead and attempted a left side pass and it wasn’t as clean and contact free as I would have liked but I jammed him and caused him to get left 2 wheels off the track and then cruised it out.

I was so excited at the win that I didn’t check the leaderboard to see what the car that had given me so much trouble was. I did save the replay and I’ll go back and try to figure out what it was. Next race I managed to flip the car end over after tangling with a curb and an AI which I didn’t know was possible in FM4 until I did it.

I could have sat there the rest of the day but had real life things that needed doing.

Something I’ve found with the AI is that, especially so as you move into R3 and above, the hard difficulty can actually be more of a pain than professional. The hard AI slam the brakes way too early, go ridiculously slow through corners while hogging the racing line as much as possible, and seem to be FAR more aggressive than the professional setting. On professional a clean race with the AI is not entirely out of the question for me. On hard? They ram me, they ram walls, they constantly ram each other, they brake check you, they intentionally run you and each other off the road, I mean it often devolves into a total demolition derby before the 2nd lap when I set them to hard. On professional it seems, at least to me, they tend to be more aware of the player’s presence and less likely to try overly-aggressive maneuvers that could involve hitting the player. I didn’t say they’re perfect (not by a long shot), but the professional AI have always seemed to be more racing and less carpocalypse to me.

On the Nurburgring? Oh I’d have them on professional every time! There’s little room to pass and the hard AI slamming their brakes down to old lady in a Buick speeds in every apex would drive me insane within seconds. The 'Ring is no place for bumper cars with hard AI lol.

I tried moving up to Pro and I think you are right. There is still lots of contact but it doesn’t seem as vicious as it does in the lower difficultys. I do think you are spot on about the “brake check” thing as I found I was able to tuck in tight behind a car and wait for an opening without getting a face full of rear wing. I was able to get on the podium with a 3rd in a couple of races and the AI ahead of me were in R3’s while I was in an S Class so thats promising.

I claimed many rear wings in the Hard and Medium settings trying to drive close in the pack and even at the time didn’t feel it was my fault as I could clearly see green ahead of them. I really like driving back in the pack as long as they behave properly. When I was down at Medium level I would sometimes give them a head start and then hold back on the first turns just so I could go through them once things got up to speed but like you said they would always jam the brakes at some point or worse jam into me right when I was setting up a turn. Hard was better as it was more competitive but still with the brake checks and getting slammed for no reason.
I’m going to switch to Pro level for my free races but drop back a level for the money races as I really want the credits at this point. I’d like to build a sweet fleet of S class and lower cars right now. I have around $2m credits built up so I can afford a few just have to decide which ones and how to build them for class.

I have become fairly obsessed with Nurburgring and have barely been on any other tracks for a week now. Sunday I did Laguna Seca a few times after watching the race there on FS1. Youtube has a huge selection of real world video from The Ring including “in car” of some of the record laps that I like watching. I was bouncing around between a few different games like Dirt 3 and NFS and a Yahoo article about the Corkscrew caught my eye and they had several drivers talking about Laguna and showing the lines and what not. After seeing that something clicked and I stayed in FM4 constantly and driving Laguna Seca repeatedly till I had a decent handle on the track and not constantly plowing into the sand pits. It was fun watching Sundays race and knowing where the cars were and what was coming up for them.

For YouTube videos of 'Ring driving, my all time favorite is definitely the in-car footage of that guy ripping around in the RUF Yellowbird. No helmet, no gloves, no traction, no fear, no way you’d be able to do any of that nonsense to day! The guy blitzes the track in a widowmaker hot rod Porsche wearing his jeans and zooms past other cars/motorcycles sideways with one hand on the wheel! From what I understand, the lap time he set in that video stood as the fastest ever by a production car for 7 years until the Jaguar XJ220 came along!

Sadly though, the Nurburgring on Forza 4 is not a particularly good rendering of the real thing. For that reason I rarely drive the track on this game. As much as I hate comparing the two games, I think most who have driven Nordschleife on GT5 will agree with me that the FM4 version is mediocre at best. I played GT5 extensively before FM4 so the quality of GT5 Nurburgring spoiled me to the point that I can’t even take FM4 Nurburgring seriously. Not trying to start any arguments about the two games, but Nurburgring is one thing GT5 just plain did better than Forza.

If you like not having the pack jammed together at the start, in custom private online races against the AI you can set per car roll of delay of 1 second. I do this a lot and it’s pretty much mandatory for me at R3 or higher. That little 1 second delay puts just enough distance between the cars that you avoid the first lap carpocalypse scenarios.

Unless you are a truly exceptional driver, perfecting every corner at the Nordschleife is pretty much impossible.

Baring that in mind, they key to speed here is to maintain a smooth racing line. You’ll need to keep as much momentum through the turns as possible. Despite what most people think, the Nordschleife is actually a power track. You’ll speed more time per mile here than at most tracks, save for Indianapolis road course and a few others. There’s a really good video of a Lotus Elise battling with a Corvette at the ring. And ultimately, the Lotus loses because it can’t keep up on the straights, and cannot go fast enough through the corners to keep in front. So if you are struggling a bit with a handling car, try using a power car. Tune it’s handling so you can put the power down as early as possible and maintain a smooth line through the corners as let the horsepower do it’s work.

If you want to race and have a car to chase you can friend me and I’ll provide you something to chase and improve your lines.

But if you’d prefer to find the speed on your own, I’d suggest using one of the cars the A.I. do, and try following them from a comfortable distance. That may help you find the lines. Than it’s all about being smooth. Slow in, fast out. Slow is smooth and smooth is fast. Keep that in mind and it should help. But of course, practice, practice, practice.

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My driving is best described as wildly erratic and barely in control. One issue I noticed last night was I need to stay out of the R+ series cars as I do SO much better in the A and B series and its still fun and exciting for me. I like the power feel of the R’s but I still lose control quite a bit. Driving the less powerful cars slows it down a bit and gives me a chance to see whats going on and react better.
When I first got it I went to free race a lot and jumped in the R series and proceeded to rip it up. It wasn’t until I started grinding through the F races to build credits that I figured out that I was definitely braking wrong and needed to start paying attention to the subtleties of what I was doing.

Sadly in my present situation with satellite internet access there will be no online racing for me. There is a HUGE lag in the system that can’t be overcome. A disadvantage of living in the sticks.

Off topic but years ago I learned to fly remote control nitro powered helicopters. In the transmitter theres a built in function called Exponential that adjusted the sticks so that it was softer (slower movement) near the center but would catch up as you moved the stick further. It kept it from being so twitchy at center but still allowed full range of movement. Seems that would be a benefit in this application too. If I could hook my RC transmitter up in place of the controller I would KILL at this. Of course with the helis there was real incentive to get it right as a “dumb thumb” could result in hundreds of dollars of damage and hours of repair. I started there with a simulator for PC that came with a dummy transmitter but was fully functional.

Haven’t seen that yet. Theres a site that keeps a list that has lap times and links to the vids and of course the touristfahrten videos are always big fun. I need to see this guy though. Sounds like my kind of peoples…

Maybe I spoke too soon about staying out of R cars. Last night I was grinding through some B series races for the CR/XP and I won the R2 Audi A4 Touring Car. I really like Audi and have been trying really hard to get an AWD R8 5.2 FSI tuned out but the front end always seems slippery for me even though its fairly fast and I love the look. Anyway…

Naturally I had to drive the A4 and that thing runs like its on a rail! All I wanted to do for tuning was reduce the tire pressure and then run it. I did a few test laps at Laguna and then ran down a 2nd lap ghost R8 that I had left in there. It took a few tries but I finally got it. Then it was off to the Ring. First couple of tries I was getting good starts from the 1 or 2 pole but got bumped and spun or bobbled a turn and ate the rail so I just hit restart.

Third try was hilarious. This prototype looking thing labeled with Tenakta(?) and I were 1 and 2 and he kept tagging me running down the straight and then attempted a rough right side pass in the first turn and was beside me coming up to the Pit turn. I had just about enough of that and decided to try and shove him into the pits. He smacked square into the hydro barrier at the divide and swung sideways across the track Then he got T boned by 2 cars and the entire pack wadded up behind him. By the time I cleared the Pit exit turn I was completely alone and stayed that way for the majority of the race and no one managing a pass.
The replay was funny as hell, the track was jammed with 4 or 5 cars that were involved and the rest trying to go into the grass to get around it. Very satisfying knowing that I had caused that melee after all the grief the AI had delivered to me. I’m just not taking their crap anymore.