Cars are now more than just a means of transport. There are so many motorsport fans who want to actually drive on a track.
This is why the Hyundai Veloster N is gaining popularity. It is an affordable and easy choice when you are a first-timer on a race track. It is also comparably affordable to maintain and repair – tires, brake, liquids, to be specific.
Comfortable Yet Dynamic
It will become much easier to drive Veloster N with 8-speed DCT, unlike its predecessor that only featured manual transmission. The new paddle shifters behind the steering wheel put power at the driver’s fingertips for a much better transmission response.
The N DCT comes with video game-like features that enhance driving fun. N Grin Shift (NGS), for example, boosts the engine and maximizes transmission response for 20 seconds. N Power Shift (NPS) gives the driver a responsive feeling of dynamic acceleration when shifting when the car accelerates. The N DCT also comes with N Track Sense Shift (NTS) that discerns when road conditions are optimal for dynamic driving and activates automatically, selecting the right gear and shift timing.
Hyundai developed the N DCT to provide the engaging experience of a manual transmission with the convenience of an automatic transmission. The company is confident that the model would draw a lot of attention, and more people would gather around a race track. But there are things to consider before you hit the circuit. You need safety equipment and racing license for starters. And here’s more.
It is highly recommended that you go over the basic driving skills and make sure you get used to the track first. Each racecar has different characteristics, too. Tae-Hee Kim, who is a national kart racing champion and finished second in the Hyundai Veloster N Cup Masters Race 2019, is also a professional racing instructor. Here’s what she tells you how to race properly.
A Checklist for Track Driving
In South Korea, nonprofessional drivers can use these four circuits – Inje Speedium in Gangwon province, Korea International Circuit in Young-Am, Jeon-Nam province, Speedway in Yong-In, Gyeonggi province, and Taebaek Speedway in Gangwon province. After finishing the courses required before you drive in each circuit, plus about 100,000 KRW, you will be given the license. For Inje Speedium, you can drive as much as you want for 50,000 KRW every 20 minutes.
Safety has priority in everything that you do on a race track. Make sure you’re wearing a helmet, gloves, long pants, and a long-sleeve shirt. Professional drivers even wear fire-retardant suits in case of a fire emergency. They also wear shoes specifically designed for racing, but just regular sneakers will do for you.
If you are properly equipped, now it’s time to see if your car is ready to drive. Make sure nothing – a cellphone, a bottle of water, and even a coin – is in the cockpit. They will wander around while you’re on a track. Also, it’s important to have a mechanic inspect your car before you drive it. Safety always comes first.
Before you drive on a circuit, there are things you need to double-check; the principal parts of a disc brake, a caliper assembly, and brake fluid. You will accelerate and brake much more often on the track, and the increased temperature of brake fluid could generate air bubbles, increasing the risk of vapor lock.
Tires are also very important, indeed. The areas to keep an eye on is the tread, sidewall, and air pressure of the tire since the friction from moving contact with road surfaces happens much more frequently on a racetrack.
Maintaining sufficient air pressure is crucial. The weather and temperature can affect the pressure, and the difference between before and after driving on track can be up to 10 psi. Tire makers’ recommended tire pressure is 30 psi before driving, and 40 psi after it. A tire-pressure monitoring system (TPMS) – an electronic system designed to monitor the air pressure inside the pneumatic tires on cars – is common these days, but you can just use a compressor or a tire gauge for a quick check.
Though Veloster N is a front-wheel-drive model, it exhibits oversteer characteristics. For this reason, some drivers set front tire inflation pressure different from the rear to make their car move differently than usual. When the oversteer happens, for example, the rear tires slide out, making faster cornering possible. Oversteer requires good driving skills to keep control of the car, though.
You also need to check the engine room to make sure all the fluid level is okay before tripping in the circuit. Just a little bit of engine oil or antifreeze spilled on the circuit can cause a massive car accident.
Before driving on the track, adjusting your driver’s seat is crucial. The seat should be more upright than you are on the road. This ensures proximity to the wheel and good visibility, which can lead to better control than a more relaxed position. If you stretch your legs while driving, they can get easily hurt in case of an accident.
Safe is Fast
Now it’s finally time to drive your car. But first, you need to spend your first lap on carefully studying the circuit you’re about to go through. Heat soaking a race tire is another reason for the warm-up.
Before you get your racing license, you would learn the basic skills and tips during the driving lesson; Look as far ahead as you can when the corner opens up. As you approach the corner, stay near the outside of the bend. Aim for the apex, touch, then hit the accelerator. These skills are so classic that even professional drivers keep these in mind all the time.
Practice makes perfect, but sometimes practicing itself can be so hard. Most of the amateur drivers like myself make the same mistake by trying too hard. Even though the mind seems to know how to drive but the body doesn’t. This is when you need a coach to guide you. And this is why I came here with Kim, a professional driver, for the first time in my life.
At first, she would drive Veloster N for a demonstration. Her skill was magnificent – the way she gets into the corner and how she exits! It was seamless yet bold. She explained, in oversteer, the back end of the car loses adhesion and tries to overtake the front. So, a skilled driver can intentionally invoke oversteer and control the car to come out of the corners faster. I was amazed to see how she does it.
We changed seats and got back on the track. Kim thoroughly pointed out how I should be turning the steering wheel during cornering and how I should maintain the balance between steering and braking. The car reacted instantly when I got distracted, even just a little bit. But from time to time, she would also praise me every time I make the right decision. In the passenger seat, she was a perfect instructor.
Those valuable tips from her reduced my lap times, by a lot. I couldn’t have done it myself. She also made me think that I want to practice over and over again, until I really do well.
Two things helped me. The N DCT comes with N Track Sense Shift (NTS) that gets automatically activated when road conditions are optimal for dynamic driving, selecting the right gear and shift timing just like a professional race car driver to provide optimal performance. The N Corner Carving Differential, which is also called E-LSD(Electronical Limited Slip Differential) system, allows wheels to turn at different speeds by applying different amounts of torque depending on the load transfer from the inner to the outer front axle wheel.
Maintenance After Track Driving
Through data logging, you can record all the information you need to improve your performance. You could correct any bad driving habit that affects your record, and you also could make more right decisions behind the wheel after gathering/analyzing data from the logger. Try using one if you are a newbie on a racetrack.
Also, you need to look through the car maintenance checklist after the race because it must have been harsh for your car indeed. Veloster N, fortunately, offers racetrack durability. But still, you want to be sure the tires, wheels, engine room, and other parts are safe and sound. Take care of every problem you find before you go back home.
Driving Veloster N DCT on a circuit was something special that I have never had in my whole life. It wouldn’t have been possible if it were not for 8-speed DCT. I still think about better ways to drive faster on the circuit. Until I get back there, I will be taking care of my car more thoroughly.
Photograph. Bum-Suk Kim