WeeJohnyB's guide to a lap of Portimao
Lap of Portimao, by WeeJohnyB, No Limits Instructor March 09
I've been asked by a few who are going soon to describe a lap. There are plenty of examples on youtube where you can watch on-board footage, but here's a description of how I personally saw a lap.
Down the wide start finish straight on full throttle. Anything less than a 1000cc may rev-out depending on your gearing as although itís not a long straight, you come onto it flat out in fourth gear. Head in the bubble for ages past the pits looking like Bayliss! Braking for T1 has loads of braking markers to help you and if you donít normally use braking markers, this is the place to start. There is a big tendency to brake too early as you are a) going 160+ and b) the end of the straight past the pit exit is downhill. However, there are plenty of markers to take your braking from, for example the grandstand, marshals post and braking markers from 250m onwards. You are quite likely to brake too early and end up coasting up to T1 at first, but this will improve as you get used to the fast entry to T1. A common place for overtaking from faster bikes or late brakers.
Right hander in maybe second, probably third gear, this corner is faster than it looks and has loads of run off and good camber. Many turn-in too early and mid track. Get over to the left and late turn-in for a fast drive out. You should be back on the gas around the apex driving hard to T2. Run wide on exit to maintain speed and get best entry position for T2.
Slight right hander which is taken flat out in third. Turn in late, hit apex and drift out for best positioning for T3. Easy to run up the back of people if you have exited T1 correctly and someone else has not. Can overtake on the entry to T2 on the outside or inside depending on position on track and speed differential.
Hairpin right hander. Hard braking on entry and common overtaking point. Second gear. Stay towards left and late turn-in for late apex carrying as much corner speed as possible. Too tight a turn holding the rumbles will mean a slower exit. You will run wide to the left of the circuit on the exit but have to get over to the right for the short gap to T4 left hander. This can entail staying in T3 corner longer than you think ie hold the bike in the corner even when you appear to be in the short straight as it is crucial to get over to the right now.
Fast left hander. Third gear. This corner is crucial for a fast lap as it determines your speed onto the short back straight. You need to be wide enough on the right for the approach and a late turn in to ensure you are hard on the gas around the apex. It is completely blind uphill and requires track knowledge to trust the track is straight on the exit before you are confident enough to pin it hard from the apex. There is plenty of run off again and Iíve used it myself more than once. You can actually use the rumbles at anytime as they are very grippy and T4 is a good example where you can still be in the turn on the final part of the exit and be hard on the gas leant over on the rumbles Ė great fun. Many people feather the throttle or lift up here as itís easy to run wide on the exit, but you can keep it pinned over the green Ďastro-turfí and onto the concrete and still come back on the track without losing track position.
This is short by the time you are out of T4 up to fourth then back to third, maybe second and hitting your braking marker for T5. The final section and the approach to T5 is downhill and is another common overtaking place, particularly as it is downhill, many brake too early, many too late and run straight on through the cones to the massive run off area and rejoin the track on the exit.
Medium speed left hander. This is a late turn in and most will ignore the first part of the rumble strip on the inside and apex very late. The entry is downhill and off camber. Once in the corner, it levels out in the middle then at the late apex it is positive camber and steeply uphill. The exit is very wide, so you can be early on the gas on the exit and run to the outside of the circuit on the right. Watch out for people rejoining the track here after having run-off on the entry!
Fast left hander over the blind crest. The approach is uphill hard on the gas in third or fourth, clipping the rumbles and staying left on the exit downhill to
Fast right hander. Faster than you think if you get a decent late turn in point, probably in third. Itís downhill but you can see through to the next corner. Many take this quite slowly as it appears downhill, but it has a positive camber and can be taken fast.
Tight right hander. Medium braking and change down to second gear. Late turn-in and stay away from early rumble strips for a late apex. Entry is clear but exit is blind up and over the hill. There is plenty of room to the left of the track on exit to run wide to maintain speed and drive for the short straight ahead.
Go diagonally from T8 on the left across to the right for the entry to T9. The straight starts uphill then goes very steeply down hill whilst you are hard on the gas. Some will use the crest to change gear, others with use a bit of back brake. If you donít your front wheel stays in the air for several metres, s the track just disappears beneath you. Scary if you donít like your front wheel to be off the ground.
Fast left hander. Now named Coppice after Cadwell Park. This is a very fast, positive camber uphill, left hander. Hard on the gas all the way up the hill in fourth. You can use the hill to help with your braking, but the blind crest soon appears and the entry to T 10 is flat and easily visible once you are up there.
Medium/slow double apex right hander. Entry is mid track, medium braking and possible change down to third or second. This is a difficult corner to get right and you will see multiple lines here. The fastest line I used was to miss the first apex completely and run wide holding the outside of the corner a few feet from the rumbles on the left. Donít go too far out though as it looks dirty out there. Loads of run-off. You are cranked over at this point, but let the lean angle of your front tyre slow you down, although you will need some braking in the turn up to the entry for the second apex, the track is very grippy and you can brake quite hard whilst leant over. The major part of the turn is in the final section of the first apex and entry to the second. Clip the apex on the right and importantly use all the track on the exit to drift wide to the left over the slightly blind exit, maintaining speed and drive downhill towards T12.
Fast left hander. The approach entails getting from the left on the exit from T11 over to the right and hard on the gas at the apex. Slightly downhill approach but positive camber and as fast as you want to take it in third or fourth.
Slow left hander. Fast approach with hard braking. Good overtaking point. Stay over to the right and maintain speed as much as possible into late apex and run wide on exit. You seem to be over for a long time going around this bend. Possible to overtake on the outside at the exit but be aware f people drifting out to the right on exit. It is important to stay in the corner holding the line past the exit in order to get back over to the left for the right hander at T14.
Slow right hander with double apex. Approach is flat to slightly off camber entry. Hold a slightly wide line in the first section and gradually turn-in to the apex and increase speed towards the real apex late in the corner, by which time you should be getting the bike upright for the fast exit full on the throttle.
Short straight to T15, full throttle up to fourth gear
T15 fast, long, blind right hander. Crucial for fast lap times. Entry and first section of the corner is blind. This leads to feathering of the throttle by those that are not brave enough to keep it pinned. Many will overtake around the outside or inside if people are taking a wide line. This is a long corner. The first section is not on the rumbles but gradually closing in on them from about one quarter way in. If you are going fast enough or your bike is not set up well, you will notice the only bumps in the circuit two thirds of the way around the corner whilst hard on the gas at a very steep lean angle. Keep hard on the gas for the final section as there is plenty of room on the exit and plenty of run-off. Click fifth on exit hard on the gas. As you get the bike upright, if going fast enough, you will notice a small rise in the track that will have your front wheel feeling light Ė keep it pinned.
Back past the pits looking like Bayliss.
Times in March were anything from 2.30 in the Novice group down to 1.52 in the Fast group. Your target is Shakey Byrne at 1.43!!! Two minutes is the guide to how quick you are.