Want To Score Points And Podiums? Think Probabilities Not Protests

By Winding Road Staff

May 03, 2017

Here we see the rear view from the #21 Winding Road Racing Global MX-5 Cup car driven by Tom Martin III on the penultimate and final laps of the Battery Tender MX-5 Cup series at Barber Motorsports Park on April 22, 2017. As you can see, there was a little too much aggression on the final lap. We're pretty sure none of the four drivers involved in these incidents came out happy, despite some optimistic moves (and slammed doors). We talked to all of them, and a) none were happy and b) they all thought it was the other guy's fault.

To review, all sanctioning bodies require that drivers leave racing room. And before the red mist rises, it is worth remembering that the driver attempting a pass usually will be judged at fault, all other things being equal. But, thinking like that is thinking with an eye toward a post-race protest in the chief steward's office. Which is fine, we guess, but since the stewards don't have time machines, really not the most effective approach.

The effective approach is thinking about probabilities. Making a move that has a low probability of success is a good way to ruin your race. It is an equally good way to ruin someone else's race. Neither of those is desirable, but they do require you to think rather than just press on regardless.

We also think leading drivers have to think about the probability of aggression (i.e. not expect that our approach above is being used). In the example of this video, Tom (camera car) has been opening up the entry to T2 slightly on every lap, so he can get a better run to T5 (prime passing spot). Hernan Palermo (green car) has had better speed in T1 on prior laps. We think Tom could have imagined that Hernan would attempt a pass in T2 on the last lap and he could have kept a tighter line on entry to prevent the attempt. That said, Hernan appears to try putting his car where it simply can't go.