Fast Lap with Billy Johnson – Circuit Of The Americas

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Turn 18: (Third Apex of the Sweeper)

The line will vary depending on the car.  Some of  the Formula 1 cars missed the apex of Turn 18 entirely, but they can take the corners flat and were also doing ~180mph here.  A GT car’s mid-corner speed through T16-18 is well under 100mph for comparison and requires lifting of the throttle.

Depending on the car, you might want to keep the corner tight and apex Turn 18, or get to full throttle sooner coming off of Turn 17 and running wide of Turn 18’s apex.  I’m sure different car models, setups, or driver styles will vary greatly here.  Track-out and get the car back over to the right to set up for Turn 19.

Depending on the car, you might want to keep the corner tight and apex Turn 18, or get to full throttle sooner coming off of Turn 17 and running wide of Turn 18’s apex.

Turn 19: (PITA)

This is a very tricky corner where I saw a lot of F1 cars go 4-wheels off the track and many spins.  The corner falls away at turn-in and is off-camber which makes the car push off the track.  The corner is also very fast but it’s almost 90* so it requires a lot of threshold braking  (10 pedal) to slow the car down enough to make the corner.  Turn-in earlier than you think to make sure you get down to the apex.  It’s easy to push wide and miss it by a good margin.  Pick up throttle and head to Turn 20.

Turn in early on 19 to be certain you reach the apex.

Turn 20: (Last Turn)

This is the last corner on the track and leads down the second longest straightaway.  The turn-in curbing on the right is a good brake reference point, but so is pit-entry on your left.  Depending on how late your car can brake, looking to your left at pit-in might be a better place to gauge your braking.  It’s important to find a good reference point here because it’s easy to over or under-shoot this corner.  Threshold brake in a straight line and trail the brakes to the apex.  Pick up throttle and get a good run down the front straight.

Turn 20 completes the lap and leads you onto the second longest straight.

Summary:

That completes a lap around the Circuit Of The Americas.  This track is characterized by various technical corners and elevation changes that push both car and driver to their limits.  The wide straights open up to very slow and tight hairpins which make for some great overtaking zones.  Find your reference points, remember what turn is coming up next (Ex: Is this Turn 13 or 16?), and remember which entries you can rush and which exits are the most important.

Unlike most tracks in North America where there is usually only 1 line and the fastest way through a corner is to use all of the road with the largest radius possible; COTA is wide and technical where the ideal line will rarely use all of the track, and it can vary drastically between driver to driver or car to car for the same corner.  There can be multiple different ways to take the same sections of corners and none of them are wrong or any faster than another.

Seat time is key (especially here).  Keep hitting up any track days you can go to and I’ll see you at the track!

-Billy Johnson

2 comments

  1. Interesting how time and experience changes things. Everyone does 16-18 now and ignores 17 for example. Fun read anyway!

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