VIR Patriot Course – Corner by Corner
Let’s take a look at VIR Patriot Course – corner by corner – at the wheel of an Allen Berg Racing Schools Tatuus Monza open-wheeler
Virginia International Raceway’s “Patriot Course” has all of the amazing characteristics of the full VIR Course but is compacted into a 1.10-mile track. It’s really an ideal combination of corners and elevation changes for accelerated skills development in the Allen Berg Racing Schools Tatuus Monza open-wheel race cars. The intensity of Patriot is almost like Monaco, without the walls, of course, and with a beautiful backdrop of the green Virginia landscape. Because this track is so short, you’ll always have your steering wheel turned, and it is crucial to keep your momentum up with the short straightaways. The combination of fast sweeping corners filled with hard brake zones into tight corners, as well as significant elevation changes, makes for a spectacular driving and learning experience.
TURN 1 is a left-hand kink that might look simple from a birdseye view. There is a fair amount of elevation change, and you’ll find yourself starting the lap with the steering wheel kinked to the left.
Half throttle is advised through here as well as over the crest of the hill, which is also where the apex for Turn 1 is. The race car gets very light here, and the rear will tend to want to step out.
TURN 2 is a flat-out right-hand kink that almost immediately leads into Turn 3. Although Turn 2 is a very short corner, you’ll find it has a very long apex that sets up right in the middle of the corner.
The proper line here is to stay to the right-hand side of the track throughout Turn 2, using little curb on the right-hand side to set up for Turn 3.
TURN 3, like Turn 1, is a blind, fast, uphill, off-cambered challenging corner where you’ll be travelling upwards of 100 mph leading into a hard braking zone. For reference for your turn in point, use the pit exit on the right-hand side of the track. At turn in, lift off the throttle while passing the pit lane exit on the right. Avoid the apex curb here as it upsets the car.
Like Turn 2, you’ll find the apex of this corner to be in the middle of the curbing. You will want to have your car flush to the right side curbing before you quickly straighten up the wheel to hit the brakes hard to prepare for Turn 4.
TURN 4 is really a combination of corners that we’ll break down as 4A, 4B, and 4C.
4A has an uphill braking zone in which it is crucially important to keep the steering wheel straight to avoid any lockups, especially as you are cresting the hill at the end of the brake zone. As you crest the hill, you will want to have your right side tire flush with the entry curbing, to use all the tracks available to you. On exit, keep the car over to the left-hand side of the track and sacrifice some speed as you’re only a third of the way through perhaps the most complex section of the track.
For 4B, and after sacrificing the exit of 4A, you will find yourself to the left side of the track. Immediately following the exit, after a slight application of throttle, you are turning in for the quick tight left-hander of 4B. You’ll find that after exiting 4A, and all the way until you get to Turn 5, you’ll hold a steady 50% throttle to keep weight off of the rear. The apex of 4B is on the short apex curbing. Use some of the apex curbing to make the set up for 4c a little easier.
For 4C, you’ll find yourself in the middle of the road as you exit 4B, and you’ll immediately be turning to the left while still applying some throttle. Once you pass the apex, you can continue to apply throttle smoothly until you get to 100%. On exit, you’ll still have to hold the car to the left of the track.
TURN 5 is more of an exit and continuation of Turn 4C. You’ll be flat out from the apex of 4C and through this slight bend of the track.
TURN 6 is also just a slight bend of the straightaway and is also flat out, full throttle. Position the race car on the left-hand side of the race track and get your steering wheel pointed as straight as possible for the braking zone of Turn 7.
Turns 7, 8, and 9 are the most exciting corners on the track, with the biggest elevation change in the shortest amount of time. By combining the blind downhill with an off-cambered track, it sets up a fun and challenging complex of corners.
Brake in a straight line on the run up to TURN 7 to maximize efficiency. Applying the brakes on the uphill before the track crests helps you to slow the car down. Turn in at the middle of the entry curbing on the right-hand side before the hill crests; otherwise, you will lose all grip when the car gets light through this section.
This Turn 7 has a blind entry, so you will need to train your muscle memory as there are not a lot of visual references besides the turning point. Use a small amount of curbing on the left-hand side and sacrifice some exit speed for Turn 8.
TURN 8 is a downhill right-hander. As you exit Turn 7, having sacrificed speed in order to keep the car to the left-hand side of the track, you will continue to under-drive the limits of the car to have a good set up for Turn 9.
Because you’re going downhill you won’t need to apply that much throttle but just enough maintenance throttle to keep the speed of the car constant.
TURN 9 is nearly a hairpin corner. Once you arrive at the entry of Turn 9, the track flattens out, creating a slight compression. Apply the brakes quite hard to take a lot of speed out before you start your turn in.
Patience here is key, and if you apply throttle too early, the result is understeer which could push you off track. Maintenance throttle is critical here to keep the speed of the race car but be careful not to overdrive the entry as it leads onto a straight.
TURN 10 is listed as a corner, but as you’ll see, it is more of a long, nearly straight, slight right-hand “veer”.
TURN 11 will be broken down into 3 sections, 11A, 11B, and 11C.
11A begins with a blind entry, and you’ll have your car to the left side of the track. Slowly begin your turn in when the right side cut out of the track starts to end. It’s a short light braking zone, yet crucially important to have the wheel straight to avoid any lockups as you are also cresting the top of a hill.
11B is a fast, tricky left-hander. Hold maintenance throttle throughout the corner, clipping the apex directly in the middle of the corner, and then back to full throttle (briefly).
11C begins with a lift off of the throttle to get weight onto the front end. Maintain an early, long apex using all of the curbing. Sacrifice your exit to keep the car in the middle of the track to set up for Turn 12.
TURN 12 is a left-hander, and it is common to hold too tight a line through here. The grip is in the middle of the track, and as you’ll see, the track is darker where the driving line is. Not quite full throttle here as you’re going uphill on a bumpy off-camber. Apply maintenance to full throttle as you cross the start-finish line to complete your lap.
So, as you can see, although a short lap, there’s a lot to learn, and if you can master VIR’s Patriot Course, you’ll be ready for almost any road course on the planet.