Now that we have discussed car prep and setup for the rain, let’s talk about how to drive more effectively in wet weather conditions.
Just as we’ve discussed with setup, rain driving is about trying to load the car at a slower rate so it accepts the load without breaking traction. The smoother the inputs, the more grip you’ll be able to generate in the tire. This has to do with your hand speed while steering, the way you squeeze the throttle on, and the way you release the brake pedal.
Notice I didn’t mention the way you initially push the brakes, specifically from a high-speed straight braking zone, because you’ll find that the best grip you’ll have is longitudinally. When it’s raining, your best grip will be braking grip in a straight line.
You can brake pretty effectively in a high-speed straight braking zone, but you’re going to have to expect a whole lot less out of your cornering ability and be extra smooth with your throttle application. You can probably brake within about 70% of your dry braking performance, whereas cornering and throttle are going to be at a much lower percentage, like 40%.
As far as your driving line is concerned, the theory is that an area that has a rougher, less polished surface will have more grip. That’s usually where cars haven’t driven, so you’ll be driving where you normally don’t. The tires polish the racing line over time and it becomes very slick, whereas the other surfaces will be less polished and therefore have more grip. This is an instance when you can really benefit from a track walk. You can drag your feet from an inside apex area to the outer edge of the track and you’ll see how it transitions from smooth to rough. That rough area is where you want to place your car in the rain. The rain line will look and feel odd, but more grip means that you’ll be able to have a quicker lap time.
This doesn’t exclude braking zones: think about where cars are normally braking on the regular line and do your braking next to that area, where you’ll have a surface with more grip. Braking a car width off the normal line can give you a substantial increase in consistency when it’s raining.
Particular patches on the track surface that might be a different texture, such as concrete, can have more grip or be extra slick depending on their composition and porosity. Painted curbs will of course be slicker in the rain, whereas you might find some unpainted concrete curbs that have plenty of grip and are still usable. Again, a track walk is very useful for learning this information!
Ultimately, preparing for and driving in the rain involve very different techniques, so plenty of practice can help give you that advantage. Make sure you have the proper equipment, like appropriate tires, and remember that the more practice you get driving in the rain, the better you’ll be at it. The next time it’s raining during one of your sessions, don’t sit it out! Look at it as a great opportunity to get in some valuable rain practice. You never know when you’ll need those skills in the future.