News and views on motorsports

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Gran Turismo 4: Kurosawa Motoharu Beaten

Well Gan San, it had to happen. Inevitable in Playstation land I guess. Your 7m 56s record with the NSX Type-R has been smashed by yours truly last night. My time? 7m 54s. A sense of mission accomplished is prevalent right now. I had help though, from Mr Gan San himself. I watched a Best Motoring video of him in the NSX Type R during his Nordschleife run.

I noticed that apart from a couple of corners in second, he takes the vast majority of the tighter bends in third gear. In GT4, the game itself would recommend taking the same bends in second. In the end, I followed Gan San and where I would normally use second, I now used third. The effect of this I think is to maintain smoothness in the turns. Especially important given the dips and bumps of the Nordschleife.

If you watched Gan San's lap of the Nordschleife, you will notice how violent it seems in the in-car footage. Gan San absolutely canes the engine to within an inch of its life. Gan San of course is able to take corners a lot more smoothly since he's operating a steering wheel whereas I'm hacking away on the PS2 controller. From the Best Motoring footage, you'll also notice that the circuit is a lot bumpier in real life than in the game. But I suppose if they made it too realistic in PS2 it would be near impossible for you to operate the controller.

GT4 creator Kazunori has smoothed out a lot of the real world bumps but nevertheless he has kept the major dimps and bumps and quite nicely as well, the camber changes of the Nordschleife. I guess if you really wanted the real experience, you must go to the Nurburgring to get it. Which I will, in my lifetime. I don't care when but I must go there.

When playing the game in PS2 its easy to forget the harsh realities of the Nordschleife. After all, one is probably sitting on a sofa when playing the game. All nice and comfortable. So its easy to forget how scary the track is in real life. All those fast corners can be really hazardous to your health if you get it wrong. The bends are incredibly fast. Exciting for sure. Fun to play and even better to drive in real life. But you sure need a lot of minerals.

Playing GT4 has made me realise exactly why the circuit has been banned from Formula 1. It simply is too dangerous. Put it this way, its fast enough in the BMW M5 and Ruf RGT, road cars to be sure. The sense of speed you get in them is incredible. In Formula 1 cars it would probably seem like suicide. But this is no reason for morons like Hermann Tilke to ignore classic circuits like the Nordschleife, Brands Hatch and Spa. There are lessons to be learnt here. Drivers love to drive flat out on fast circuits. And by fast we mean circuits with fast flowing corners. The idiot Tilke insists on giving us hairpin after hairpin. This is incredibly boring. I'd bet that if you analysed overtaking in Formula 1, you'd find that happen a lot on fast circuits and hardly any in Tilke's works of horrors.

Oh well. Enough of ranting. Selected times from last night:

1. BMW M5 - 7m 39s (I can confirm this. But I still made a few mistakes here)
2. Honda NSX Type R - 7m 54s (Mission accomplished. Will Gan San hire me now?)
3. Honda Integra Type R - 8m 34s (At last, a more decent time besting my Altezza and the BMW 330i)

A little bird whispered in my ear that one of my rivals has done an 8m 32s lap with the 330i. Hmmm..... I suppose battle has really commenced now. I ought to be able to top that but I don't think it'll be in the Altezza. Pity. But of course the Altezza is an old car and I hadn't been using Gan San's technique during the banzai lap.

The Integra is still beset with understeer which really ruins it. At the Schwedenkreuz bend for instance, in a rear wheel drive car you could probably take it anywhere between 210-225 km/h, but even at 210km/h the Integra is understeering badly and needs to slow down some more to take the bend. Plus in the tighter turns like Aremberg and Berkwerk you can feel the PS2 controller tugging away as you put the power down. Of course there is also understeer. While it lacks the nth degree of handling balance, it makes up for by its gear ratios. The ratios are short and close. As if someone put a lower final drive in it. That's quite nice.

My favourite stretch of the Ring? Probably from Bergwerk to the Karussell. Although the run from the Karussell to the Schwalbenschwanz gives you a good sequence of third to fourth gear technical workouts. My favourite single place is probably Adenauer Forst. Prior to that you'll be flat out in fifth or sixth, then you'll need to drop to fourth for a fast sweep then third for Adenauer Forst. That fourth gear bend is incredibly satisfying if you get your brakes tapped just right. Hohenrain is pretty damned hair raising. You're in seventh coming from Tiergarten in the M5 at 290km/h. Get it wrong and you're completely f@#%-ed. Oh I just don't know. It all seems bloody good to me. The only boring part is probably the last bend of the circuit. The rest are just brilliant works of art.

Well, seems like now that I've beaten Gan San, I'll start concentrating more on getting along in the Simulation mode. Time to take my EK4 Civic for some Honda one make races and earn some serious cash to buy better machinery.

Watch this space!

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