Track Analysis: Legend John Morton vs. Little Old Me

As a professional driving coach, I’ve had the opportunity to co-drive with some pretty serious teammates. In this article, we’ll crack open a data comparison between class winning Le Mans racer John Morton and me.

By Christopher Hurst - January 22, 2019
Track Analysis: Legend John Morton vs. Little Old Me
Track Analysis: Legend John Morton vs. Little Old Me
Track Analysis: Legend John Morton vs. Little Old Me
Track Analysis: Legend John Morton vs. Little Old Me
Track Analysis: Legend John Morton vs. Little Old Me
Track Analysis: Legend John Morton vs. Little Old Me
Track Analysis: Legend John Morton vs. Little Old Me
Track Analysis: Legend John Morton vs. Little Old Me
Track Analysis: Legend John Morton vs. Little Old Me

The Best Team Mate to Compare to

John Morton is a maverick in every sense of the word. He is a man who needs no introduction. His resume includes cars like the Porsche 962, BRE Datsun 240Z, and 427 Cobras among hundreds more. Names he has raced for include Porsche, Carroll Shelby, Brock Racing Enterprises with class wins from IMSA to Le Mans. Don’t forget Formula 5000, Can-Am, and a stint in the movie business if you want a complete picture of the man’s life. John is a serious badass behind the wheel of a car. What better guy to compare to?

Before & After

Instead of comparing the two of us around the entire track, I am focusing on the before and after data in places where I learned what I was doing wrong. In some spots, Morton and I were so close the data traces almost sit directly on top of each other. These sections will be obvious so we won’t dwell on them. The track is Willow Springs International Raceway aka “The Big Track” as many on the forums will recognize it. Let’s dive in.

>>Join the conversation about getting racing advice from a Le Mans racer right here in the S2Ki.com forum.

Reference Map

In this and the subsequent slides, John Morton's data is in green. Chris Hurst's is in blue.

Here is an overall shot of the full lap sliced into sections. You can see where the corners are located, generally speaking, so that things make sense as we break down individual sections. 

Image courtesy of Chris Hurst 

>>Join the conversation about getting racing advice from a Le Mans racer right here in the S2Ki.com forum.

Time in Turn 1

One of the most interesting things about this corner is the way the speed is bled off. Coming into Turn 1, you can see the traces are close and then begin to spread apart as we get closer to the apex of the corner. You will also notice the blue line has a smooth shape by comparison. This is partially due to the fact I am trail braking going into turn 1 and sliding the rear which allows me to carry a few more mph to the apex than John, who slows the car down to the speed it can turn in, and then executes sustained cornering speeds. It’s a very subtle nuance in how you can have similar minimum mph in a corner, but get there two different ways.

Image courtesy of Chris Hurst 

>>Join the conversation about getting racing advice from a Le Mans racer right here in the S2Ki.com forum.

Smooth Hands and Feet***

Coming out of the first corner with equal speed, we see Morton scrub off a bit more going into the long sweeping right-hander of Turn 2. My trace is nice and smooth again, which means I’m turning in with plenty of velocity, but John’s trace shows something that catches me off guard: he’s holding around 2-3 mph more in the middle of the corner. By cross-referencing with his throttle trace, I find he’s squeezing on a small percentage more than me and getting an advantage here.

***I remind myself that the limit is higher and squeeze the throttle more the next session out.

Image courtesy of Chris Hurst 

>>Join the conversation about getting racing advice from a Le Mans racer right here in the S2Ki.com forum.

Enter Turn 3 & Maintain Turn 4

Morton gets me into the braking zone here and has more mph going into it because of the last corner. Again, the gap between the blue (CH) and green (JM) as the speeds drop show that I am more comfortable carrying speed into the corners, but I need to focus on holding the speed I carry in the middle of the corner AND brake later on corner entry.  There’s a bump in Turn 4 that spun me out the first time I raced here. I need to stop thinking about it and be comfortable with the back end sliding here. All of this happens in about 5 seconds.

Image courtesy of Chris Hurst

>>Join the conversation about getting racing advice from a Le Mans racer right here in the S2Ki.com forum.

Turn 5 through Turn 8

Same shape of the graph as in Turn 1. It’s a good sign I’m getting good use of the front end, but John is still out-braking me by the smallest margin here. The run-up to Turn 8 is flat out with 2 shifts that Morton and I make in exactly the same place. Speeds are almost identical here until we get to the notorious Turn 9.

Image courtesy of Chris Hurst 

>>Join the conversation about getting racing advice from a Le Mans racer right here in the S2Ki.com forum. 

Turn 9 and Why John Morton is a Legend

"You’re lifting early going into 9," John says after we pour over the data. "I don’t think I am," I reply, trying to sound like I know more than a computer. John smirks in a way that calls me on my white lie without vocalizing it before quietly walking away. A few seconds later, the team owner comes up and puts a computer in front of me before simply saying, "Data doesn’t lie, Hurst." Everything else is dead equal.

Image courtesy of Chris Hurst 

>>Join the conversation about getting racing advice from a Le Mans racer right here in the S2Ki.com forum.

What I Learned

Driving is a huge world with some tremendous talent in it. At the time of this test, I was in the last year of my 20s and John had recently celebrated his 75th birthday, which gives you an idea just how serious he is behind the wheel. By combining his insight in the braking zones with data analysis, I was able to improve the car’s time by 1.8 seconds and learn about how much I was leaving on the table. As far as Turn 9 is concerned, sometimes data is great for showing you numbers and other times it's simply there to tell you to have more courage. Hope you enjoyed. 

Image courtesy of Chris Hurst 

>>Join the conversation about getting racing advice from a Le Mans racer right here in the S2Ki.com forum.

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