How Stigworx uses data to unleash your inner Ayrton Senna
Want quicker lap times? Driving coach Adrian Burford takes the guesswork out of time gains
After the long months of lockdown, track-day enthusiasts have been shaking off the cobwebs and taking their cars to circuits for a workout. I joined a number of them at Zwartkops raceway last weekend, under the guidance of driver coaching company Stigworx.
While some track-day participants are just happy to squeal the tyres a bit and aren’t necessarily budding race drivers, others keep a keen eye on the stop watch and are always looking to improve their laptimes.
This is where Stigworx comes in. It’s run by former motoring journalist and racing driver Adrian Burford who uses his experience, combined with hi-tech telemetry, to help drivers unlock their inner Ayrton Senna.
He uses Racelogic Vbox data logging systems, combining GPS data with synchronised high-definition video, to help take the guesswork out of making performance gains.
So there I was, helmeted up and ready to rumble. With a Vbox data logger attached to the inside windscreen, along with cameras to record the forward view as well as what I was doing behind the wheel, I set out onto the track in Volkswagen’s new Golf GTI TCR hot hatchback.
The Vbox records your laps and shows on its inbuilt screen if you are going faster or slower anywhere around the track than your best lap time. This real-time feedback is useful as it shows instantly how experimenting with different lines or braking points results in gained or lost time.
After the session, Burford analysed my driving on monitors set up in his van, using the telemetry to advise on where improvements could be made in the next driving stint. The software also stitched together my best sectors and came up with an optimal laptime to aim for.
The data is very detailed — measuring braking points, speed, racing line and g-forces among many other metrics. All your driving skills (or lack thereof) are laid bare — if you’ve braked too early or apexed too late it’s all there in the data.
All the squiggly graphs could be intimidating for the layman to interpret. Burford’s skill is in untangling the digital spaghetti and translating it into advice that can improve your driving.
For instance, in one complex right-left section he deduced that I had good speed into the first corner but seemed to sacrifice my exit speed in the second turn. By taking the first turn a bit slower and tighter, he advised, I might have a better line and a faster speed through the second corner.
I gave it a try, and mission accomplished. It resulted in a significant time improvement in that part of the track even though driving that way had seemed counterintuitive. It was a good example of where the data, combined with Burford’s experience, trumped my own seat-of-the-pants feel.
In the post-session analysis, videos synchronise with the graphs as a visual aid to show how different lines through a corner affect your speed. The cabin camera is also quite instructive in terms of how body language has a bearing on your lap times. Free tip: you’re aiming for smooth inputs rather than madly wrestling the wheel.
Stigworx caters to individuals or groups and can be hired for R3,500 per person per day at Zwartkops or Redstar raceways. For more information e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.