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The Corkscrew

Toyota will be demonstrating their TF106 at Laguna Seca this weekend, with Ricardo Zonta driving. Zonta has won at Laguna Seca before so he will know all about the Corkscrew.

And so will anyone who has played the PlayStation video game, Gran Turismo. Just the mention of the circuit brings back those feelings of awe, nervousness and elation the Corkscrew elicits. We may only have experienced it in virtual reality but that was enough to make us respect those who have been there and done that for real. What a series of corners it is!

You approach it on a long, rising straight and the first element of the corner is completely hidden behind the crest of the rise until, suddenly, you’re there. So it is necessary to get your line and braking point absolutely correct without seeing what awaits you. The car goes light as you reach the summit and, just at that moment, the road turns sharply left and begins a steep descent. If you haven’t hit the brakes before then, you have a date with the armco.

As it plunges downwards, the road begins to make a swooping bend to the right, just to make things even more difficult. But, if you get it right, there is nothing like the feeling of triumph that results. This is a corner that belongs up there with Eau Rouge for testing a race driver to his limit.

The Corkscrew

The Corkscrew

I am not sure I envy Ricardo his drive in an F1 car through that corner, however. Gran Turismo allows one to try it in the fiercely powerful Toyota Le Mans car of a few years ago and that was scary enough, even though I did it in the comfort of an armchair in front of a television. To attempt it in the F1 Toyota will be hair-raising indeed.

Okay, you can laugh at my equating a video game with the real thing. But Gran Turismo was state-of-the-art when it arrived, the closest thing to a driving simulator then invented. It gave those of us who will never experience racing on a real circuit an opportunity to have a taste of what it’s like. Without it, I would have no idea of just how challenging a corner the Corkscrew is.

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