Using video data logging to make rapid improvements in the quest for better lap times
In an illuminating chat with GT driver and ARDS S class coach, Rob Barff, we gain an insight into how he translates his seemingly supernatural ability with a race car into easily understood lessons for his clients.
Rob is a natural driver – he has never known anything else and his CV demonstrates that he has a talent most of us can only dream of. Consequently he is in a position to pass on his knowledge and experience to those wishing to emulate his achievements. The advent of video and data logging means that Rob can translate some of this instinctive ability much more effectively and – crucially – faster than ever before.
Using Circuit Tools, we analyse some video taken from this year’s Dubai 24hrs which Rob shared with an amateur driver to put a GT3 F458 on pole. It becomes obvious that he doesn’t consciously make driving decisions. We look at one specific braking point: “I have absolutely no idea…[where I brake] but here we go, 20m before the 100m board, and I’m applying 95bar of brake pedal pressure.”
This is intuitive racing, and expecting an amateur to emulate it is unrealistic: “But the fact that I don’t know how or why I drive like this no longer matters. I do this automatically, but my student needs to know these numbers. They are techniques that you can learn by yourself, but it will take years to do so; using the video and data massively shortcuts that process.”
Rob explains how he now gets his protégés up to speed much faster than he ever could before:
“Practice does make perfect with good coaching. But with the data interpretation we now get very detailed analysis on a lap by lap basis, whereas in days gone by when driver coaches were just sitting alongside the clients, they’d only get a general overview from the coach. Now they get that broad perspective plus – over a cup of tea and in very much more a productive state of mind – they can analyse driving patterns; general areas of competence that can be left well alone; and areas of concern.”
One of the most telling phrases here is “areas of competence that can be left well alone”: video and data presented through an easily interpreted software package not only aids the driver in addressing their problems, it also helps to dial out the ‘false positives’ of already-attained ability. Never before has an amateur driver had so much bench-marking so readily accessible.
Rob: “What I love about Video VBOX and Circuit Tools is this accelerated learning. The range of window layouts in the software makes it very easy to present the theories I need to explain to my customers; what it amounts to is accelerated learning regardless of experience.”
You can see Rob Barff in action in the Europe-wide Blancpain series, racing a McLaren MP412C in the Pro/Am Cup.