Advanced course guide
I've spent the overwhelming majority of my time on Advanced. I love this track, it has a perfect rhythm to it and just feels really satisfying no matter how many times I run it.
Your first goal on this track should be 44 second laps, from there you should have a sufficient understanding to push forward and refine your technique. I forget exactly what my fastest lap is but I'm sure I have a photo saved somewhere, I know it's in the low 43s (EDIT: wow I was wrong, it's a 42"54 logged on the xbla version)
. My best overall time is probably just under 3 minutes, but let's just say 3'00"56 since I did it recently and know for sure. 42 second laps are really the goal here, and I'm pretty sure I've seen high 41s from top rankers.
I'll break the track down turn by turn as best I can. I outlined drift mechanics in the previous post, but you actually shouldn't need to worry about any of that if you just follow the shift patterns and directions I list for each corner. I started out by reading up on general techniques and copying replays, it took me a while to make sense out of what was actually happening mechanically.
First things first though, I'll need to start by explaining a surprisingly obtuse mechanic.Rocket Start:
This took me a long time to sort out and I still mess it up every once in a while. It isn't your traditional special boost start or anything dramatic like that, it's more of simply avoiding an awful start where your wheels spin forever and you can't accelerate.
First press the brake pedal all the way down and hold it there. Next, use the throttle to raise your rpm to around 6500, it's easy to tell you're at the proper rpm because the car will kind of squat down on it's back wheels. Hold your rpm steady right where it does that.
This is the part that's easy to screw up. As soon as the light turns green you need to COMPLETELY release the brake pedal AND THEN floor the accelerator. It pays to be a little cautious here and hesitate for a split second in between. If you try to nail the brake off-throttle open timing frame perfect every time you're going to end up blowing it and spinning your wheels a lot. Believe me, that gets really frustrating.Opening Stretch:
This part is very straightforward. Throughout the first long right hand corner you want to keep your inside wheels planted somewhere between the white line and silver trim on the inside of the road. Just get used to holding this angle and avoiding any unnecessary adjustments. You can wiggle the steering back and forth while going around this corner in order to accelerate marginally faster on your first lap, but unless you've perfected every other part of the track there's no reason to so don't.
Try to cut the uphill left as close to the wall as possible. You should be over 200mph around the entrance of the tunnel I think. Again cut as close to the wall on the right hander coming out of the tunnel. On both of these corners work to be as smooth with your steering as possible. This will bring you to the first turn of the track.Turn 1:
Just to clarify, I'm only numbering corners that you'll be drifting on.
As you cut through that right hander out of the tunnel you'll come back to the left. Cut this as close to the grass as you can but be very careful not to touch it. As soon as you apex that left hander you want to cut hard right and initiate your first drift.
This is a 4-2-4 drift and should be done EXTREMELY fast on an ideal lap. You only want to be in 2nd long enough to upset the car and then get back into 4th immediately. If it's locked in properly the car will barely be turning at all and more or less make a straight shot up through the checkpoint and to the left side of the track at the top of the hill. If you exit the corner over 190mph then you did it correctly.
Don't try to optimize this right off the bat because an error shifting will result in a big crash into that outside wall. Let yourself go at a comfortable rate and aim for 180mph to start. Once that's comfortable start trying to make that shift faster.Turn 2:
Another right hander, this is the somewhat strange 4-2-4-3-4 shift.
Stay on the far left side of the track and initiate your drift at the first turn sign on the left side of the track. This shift doesn't need to be near as fast as the previous one. Just cut in and drop to 2nd at the same time, then shift back up to 4th and while still keeping the wheel turned to full right lock, shift up into 3rd and directly back into 4th.
The idea behind this shift pattern is that it allows you to get back into 4th very quickly in order to keep your speed up, but the blip down into 3rd is required to keep you at the inside of the corner. I don't think that I would ever have developed this technique on my own and I fully admit to just watching and copying more skilled drivers. All I know is that it works and is really fun to do
This corner can seem really tricky while you're in the process of learning the track, but it's actually pretty easy once you get a feel for it. You won't find yourself messing up here very often. Turn 3:
However, you are going to mess up here a LOT. I still have issues setting this one up and if I'm really trying to push myself I make a lot of mistakes here. I'm generally either off in the grass or I feel like I went way too slow.
This is your first 4-1-4 drift. You need to use 1st in order to reduce your speed quickly enough to make the exit. Set up on the right side of the track as soon as you exit the previous corner (using the 4-2-4-3-4 should allow you to exit pretty close to where you want to be) and be ready to initiate...uh...whenever it feels right I guess? I don't have a specific reference point for this one, which is part of what makes it so difficult. Maybe just after you start to go downhill. I'll try to figure out something more useful in the future, but this is really a place where replays can help more than I ever could in text.
Anyway, you want to cut in and shift to 1st at the same time. Be careful not to spin out, your goal is to rotate the line it up with the straightaway coming out of the corner. Once you've slowed to about 170mph (this is another thing I need to check on, this might be overly conservative) you want to shift back into 4th and cut hard left again as you exit. Ideally you'll end up with your right wheels on the very edge of the track. You're going to go off into the grass here a lot while you learn.
I should add that even though you're decelerating you want to keep the throttle floored the ENTIRE TIME. There is no point on the Advanced course where you will ever need to let off the throttle at all unless you make a mistake.Turn 4:
Now you should be cruising along the right side of the track down the straightaway to set up for the most difficult corner on this track. I have no idea what makes this turn so goddamn hard and have still not been able to figure out how to take it properly. It's the only thing standing between me and 42 second laps and I'm honestly pretty frustrated about it.
This is a 4-2-4 corner, but you're probably going to have a hard time believing that going into it. I still find myself going up into 3rd here most of the time. I did it every lap of that last record I set, it'll get you into the 43s. If you just want to safely take the corner you can set up around the middle of the track, maybe just slightly to the left, and initiate with full right steering and 2nd gear just before you pass that sign on the inside wall. Allow yourself to rotate until around halfway through the corner and then shift into 3rd, once the road has almost completely straightened out you can go back into 4th and finish your lap.
The ideal line here is just a quick 4-2-4 with full right steering the whole way. You'll clip the apex and exit fast. I've seen it in replays a ton of times but for whatever reason simply cannot make it happen. There are some other techniques as well, such as starting on the inside of the track, fainting out to the midpoint and then cutting back hard to initiate.
There's also the ratchet-steer technique where you do that but neutralize your steering just before shifting back up to 4th and then very quickly cut back to full lock right as you do so. I used to somewhat understand the logic behind this and experimented with it quite a bit, but it's been so long that I'm not really comfortable attempting to explain it right now.
At any rate, just know that the fast 4-2-4 is possible and necessary to fully optimize your times.
That should about do it for now. If any of these techniques aren't working for you, do note that they all rely on each previous corner being executed correctly in order to put you at the proper entry speed. This track has a pretty severe domino effect to it where a single mistake will pretty much botch an entire lap. One reason it's better to play it safe on the final corner is to prioritize your acceleration on the front straight, you'd be surprised how big an effect coming out of that turn slowly can have on your next lap.
Again, if there are any questions about anything please ask away! I'll be happy to try and clarify things. I apologize for anything being worded confusingly or typod, this was done entirely off the cuff.