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International A License Test Guide

TEST IA-1: Complex Corners #1


Car: '92 Jaguar XJ220

Tires: S2 medium sports

My time: 32.043


Get ready to encounter so much understeer it's not even funny. The good news? Driving aids are off, which means it's possible to influence your driving line in all sorts of small ways not possible when a vehicle has them on. The XJ220 also has tires appropriate for the task. But this "supercar" still feels like a pig; as it understeers to the point of madness. Let's get started.



(1). As the test starts, the XJ220 is in 2nd gear, rolling somewhat on the left side of the track. On the right in the distance is a red & white rumble strip. As you approach, start edging towards it early. Apply brakes just before you start to pass the strip.

(2). Brake momentarily down to about 62 mph, and keep the steering cranked to the right. You can release the brakes just before passing the rumble strip (before it vanishes from the TV screen). The XJ220 will want to understeer, so don't stomp on the gas till the car starts to turn-in more effectively. 


NOTE: You'll notice as you apply fuel that the car will start throttlesteering immediately to a small degree. Thank goodness. This is good! It's what's gonna save you at various points during the rest of this test.


(3). As you enter the tunnel area, fuel can be applied and released. Feather it. Do NOT just slam full-throttle as you enter these curves. Instead, use throttle in a more delicate manner, giving just enough to keep momentum. Vast portions of these next 2 curves will require partial throttle or NO throttle, as the car coasts momentarily. It's up to you to get a feel for all this as you maintain your line. Watch the demo with the Accel/Brake meter on to get an idea of what to do.

(4). There is some leeway with racing lines as we enter the tunnel. You can turn-in all the way to the right (fully over the rumble strip that lies there), or you can turn-in just enough to get the inside tires to roll momentarily over the strip. I've golded this test either way. The important thing is to keep steering fully, while using only enough throttle to maintain (rather than hurt) the racing-line. Try not to introduce too much understeer.

(5). Just after passing into the tunnel, there's a small, unseen bump which apparently runs across the entire track. If you're using full-throttle as you pass over it, it's possible to find those rear tires in a sudden super-spin. Not good. Try to anticipate the bump so this doesn't happen, and release the throttle momentarily while passing over it.

(6). Pass thru the tunnel, straightening out momentarily. You should be somewhat in the center of the track as you leave the tunnel. Never should the car be too far towards the left of the tunnel. That costs time.

(7). Just after leaving the tunnel, it's time to start turning carefully to the left. Release the throttle a bit as you turn. As the car approachs the rumble strip on the left, brake down to the high 60 mph zone. Use throttle delicately again, maintaining speed anywhere from 67 to about 72 mph. Full throttle will get you nowhere (but into the sand trap) at this point.

(8). It is okay to roll a bit over the rumble strip on the left hand side thru this second curve. But careful: too much bouncing can influence the racing line in a bad way, and it also further limits the amount of throttle you can use. So (again) try not to be too aggressive when rolling over this strip.

(9). We're leaving the second curve. PHEW! Finally, it's time for full-throttle. Straighten out, and shift into 3rd gear. The XJ220 is a pig, and will use almost the entire track to accomplish all this.

(10). Now we have a few moments of blessed straight as we roll downhill. There's a grandstand of spectators on our right, and a rumble strip on the far left. As the XJ220 approaches this rumble strip on the left, edge toward this direction, but (again) try not to roll over the strip too aggressively. Light contact is okay. Do NOT use brakes.

...͸ This is a chicane area, which means the car will momentarily be going left, and immediately need to go towards the right while you're still in the first (left) part of the turn. It's tricky, because you'll need to get thru this area in as straight a line as possible (which is generally the rule with chicanes), but also need to be steering HARD to get the damn car to turn at all.

(11). Now we're approaching the rumble strip on the right as the 2nd part of the chicane is here. It's okay to use alot of throttle, but brake heavily just after passing the grandstand area on the right.

(12). Now we're leaving this 4th curve and approaching the tricky hairpin. Use a few blips of throttle interlaced with moments of coasting as you line up the car, edging center-left. In other words, feather the throttle yet again.

(13). Brake heavily, making sure the XJ220 is now edging somewhat near the left-hand rumble strip. Downshift into 2nd, and then downshift into 1st gear as you carefully steer-in. Try to stay OFF of the rumble strip in this final turn. Again, that rumble strip can cause the car to bounce excessively, messing up the racing line.

(14). We're in 1st gear now, with no TCS, which means throttle must be carefully applied (no more than about 75%). As the XJ220 straightens out, it's safe to use fuller throttle before upshifting into 2nd and crossing the finish line. Phew!

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TEST IA-2: Complex Corners #2



Car: '01 Alfa Romeo Spider 3.0 V6 24v

Tires: N3 (summer radials)

My Time: 51.898


Oops. TCS is back on. Drats. The car is also running on cheapie radial tires. Actually, this test isn't really so hard, if you think about it. We've already done several tests in various front-drive models at Suzuka, with lesser tires & TCS on. While writing this guide, I silvered IA-2 on my first try, and struck gold on my 2nd try.


(1). The trick during the first 5 curves of IA-2 is to stay off the brakes (literally do not use brakes at all) while entering each curve carefully. Also, keep it in 3rd gear. The car leans heavily, but this is okay. Get used to this feeling, like dancing with a drunken partner. 

(2). To get more technical: as you near each curve, release the gas while steering, but do NOT use brakes. Let those front tires catch the brunt of inertia, let the front-end dig its way into each curve. The Alfa will steer-in with some precision if you do it right, and the only thing you'll need to worry about is steering too hard. As the Alfa gets roughly halfway thru each turn, re-introduce fuel again as the car is safely able to handle it without excessive understeer.

(3). If you find the Alfa steering-in too hard, manipulate less steering input. Full-steering lock is not always needed during this test. Use gas as you leave each curve, but don't use so much to the point that the Alfa understeers. After doing many GT4 tests in front-drive cars, you should have a feel by now. 

(4). The fifth curve is the one that rolls uphill. As you enter it, again, don't use brakes. Instead, cut back the throttle. Unlike the other curves, it's possible to use full-throttle (the TCS going mad) while topping the hill, but you need to make sure you're not too far to the right (about to understeer off the track) as you do this. Light understeer is okay. As the Alfa leaves this curve, it's time to finally shift out of 3rd and into 4th.

(5). There are TWO markers on the left-hand side of the track (little white makers) as we near deadly turn 6. Turn 6 is the angled, sharp right bend with the huge sand trap just waiting to snare us. This is the trickiest part of Suzuka. Just as you pass the second marker, you'll finally brake, and then a split second later steer HARD to the right while downshifting into 3rd. The Alfa's inside tires might just blip over the inside rumble strip, and then the outside tires might make contact with the outside strip, but it's possible to gold this test without contacting either strip. Use as much of the track as you safely can. Momentum is important here. Too much braking, which you may want to do out of instinct, can slow the Alfa down too far, earning you a silver rather than a gold. Yet, you don't want so much momentum that the car is rolling off-track (obviously).

(6). Just as the Alfa's left tires make conact with the outside strip, it's okay to apply full-throttle. The Alfa may get a little squirrely as its tires roll onto this rumble strip since it's angled (rather than flat like all the others so far). This is okay. Just make sure the car isn't sliding sideways when you pound the gas. 

(7). Final turn! Another hard right, although not quite as blind and tricky as the bend we just passed. Brake and steer-in hard just before approaching the turn, while downshifting to 2nd. Try to aim the Alfa's inside tires slightly left of the green area of the rumble strip.

(8). Again, as you roll out of this turn, try to preserve enough momentum that the car finds itself using as much track space as possible without rolling excessively over the rumble strip on the left.

(9). Full-throttle. Upshift into 3rd as the car redlines. Enjoy your gold.
 
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TEST IA-3: Guide to Chicanes #1

Car: '00 Nissan Skyline GT-R Vspec II

Tires: summer radials (N3)

My Time: 17.224

Unlike IA-2, IA-3 looks easy, yet is actually rather tricky. We have just three turns to tackle, but somehow this one winds up being more challenging than the previous test at Suzuka. At least for me. I wound up doing this test seven times in a row, finally getting a silver which was just .008 of a second too slow for gold. Argh.

Like I said before (during IA-1 with the Jaguar), the trick to tackling chicanes in the least amount of time is to try and keep as straight a line as possible. Yes, the car will need to turn, but keeping the actual steering input to a minimum is the key to getting thru as fast as possible.

'
(1). IA-3 starts us rolling at full steam on one of Fuji's longer curves in 4th gear.  There are a couple small hints as to when to start braking. One hint is to look for a very small red marker located on the far right of the track where the guardrail is. When you pass this marker, start braking. You should be on the left-hand side of the track, steering lightly while all this is happening. The other hint: check out those skid marks on the track. There's an area where they suddenly get darker. Brake as you pass over this area.

(2). There's a rumble strip located on the right. As it gets closer, you'll start to aim for it while still braking. Steer more sharply as the Skyline approaches closer and closer. Downshift from 4th to 3rd to 2nd as you near the rumble strip.

(3). You can release the brakes just before rolling over the rumble strip. The car may need just a moment of coasting to further get it situated into the best racing line, but start re-introducing fuel just before going over the rumble strip.

(4). It's OKAY to drive the entire car (all four wheels) over this rumble strip. It's even okay to drive the inside wheels lightly into some grass. The game won't fail you, oddly. You'll be doing roughly 56 mph as you drive over the strip.

(5). Keep steering right while giving full-throttle as the Skyline drives off the strip. The second part of the chicane is now approaching. As you near it, release the fuel and start turning left. The front-end starts to grab a bit, which is desirable.

(6). Brake heavily for just a moment...slowing the car down to the mid 40s while turning more sharply left. It's okay if the inside wheels roll slightly over the rumble strip here, but try not to drive over it too aggressively. TCS is now being activated as you re-introduce fuel (no matter how careful you are about it) so if the car lifts onto that strip too harshly, the Skyline will literally slow to a crawl as the TCS system kills speed.

(7). If you've managed to get this far, the rest is easy. Paste the gas pedal to your boot, and upshift into 3rd while following the rest of the curve. It's even possible to just floor it and go straight thru the finish line, letting the GT-R crash as the test ends.

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TEST IA-4: Guide to Chicanes #2

Car: '04 FPV GT

Tires: all-season radials (N2)

My Time: 34.034


Not a very hard test in my opinion, but then again, I've done countless laps at Apricot Hill since my GT2 days. This test is kind of like the first IA test in the XJ220, since the trick is to NOT use too much gas at various points. Partial throttle is key.


(1). IA-4 has us leaving Ape Hill's hairpin. As the test starts, the computer shifts the FPV into 2nd gear. All that's needed at this moment is to keep the fuel slammed and follow the road.

(2). The road is curving left. You can let the FPV's engine rev lightly into its redline area if you desire (for a bit of extra speed since the car's on an uphill), or simply shift at the redline. Either way, get into 3rd gear.

(3). Now the road curves to the right as the hill crests. Try to edge your way over towards the rumble strip at full-throttle, so that by the time the FPV is there, it's actually rolling over the strip. Light grass contact is okay. The reason it's necessary to get so far over is because the next part of IA-4 is crucial.

(4). As you pass over the hill, try not to be too far towards the left...instead try to stay somewhat towards the right. In other words, as we leave the hill and approach the left, we'll be performing an out-in-in, rather than a typical out-in-out. The tires on this car are horrible with grip, as we're about to find out.

(5). Long before we approach the next left curve, start edging over to the center of the track. It's possible to just leave the FPV in 3rd gear, letting the engine kiss its RPM limit momentarily. Or you can upshift into 4th. I find it's easiest to to stay in 3rd.

(6). There's a red & white sign on the right side of the race track with an arrow on it. Just before you pass the sign, brake heavily and start edging towards the left. Start turning left more heavily in a progressive manner as you approach the rumble strip, but don't turn so hard that the car leaves the track. You'll brake till the car is going about 61 mph, while following the lefty curve, then you'll let-off the brakes so that the car follows a tighter path.


͸ You can downshift into 2nd, or stay in 3rd during all this. Downshifting obviously is desireable if you want more control/less understeer. Problem is: if you downshift, you'll need to upshift to 3rd before approaching the chicane area, and then downshift again into 2nd as you roll thru the chicane.

(7). Still going left, let the FPV coast a moment till the front-end feels as if it's aimed, and then re-introduce throttle. Not full-throttle. Partial throttle. And feather it a bit if you need to. Fueling heavily will just cause massive amounts of  understeer. We're still in 3rd gear.

(8). Now the tighter chicane is approaching. Start edging right, aiming towards the rumble strip early.

(9). Brake heavily and downshift into 2nd as the FPV nears the strip. Just before passing over the strip on the right, re-introduce gas early. This assumes the car is in a good racing line, of course.

...It's actually okay (oddly) if the inside tires roll into a little sand. It almost seems necessary to gold the test. I can't seem to gold IA-4 without a little sand, because the racing line that's needed needs to be super-tight. I'm talking about a small blip off-track...not all four tires (or even two) making a full run thru it.

(10). Just after passing that rumble strip, you'll need to immediatly steer heavily towards the left. Let the car coast (no brakes/no gas) momentarily as steer from right to left.

(11). As the FPV passes the rumble strip on our right, let-off the gas again, while steering tightly so that the car doesn't understeer off into the upcoming grassy area on our right. Once the line is clear ahead, slam the gas.

(12). That's the bulk of it. As the track straightens out, shift into 3rd. Aim towards the left as the final curve approaches. As you near it, try to get the car into the area where the yellow lines are. Stay leftish, modulating fuel (feathering it again), but try not to roll heavily into the grass on either left or right. Brakes are not needed here at all. TCS is being activated....grass will simply kill all the speed you're trying to maintain.

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TEST IA-5: 1-lap run

Car: Seat Ibiza Cupra

Track: El Capitan

Tires: all-season radials (N2)

My Time: 2:27.029


Another full-lap run. Not a very tough test, though. The hardest part is NOT hitting the stupid pace car, which is very possible to do if you're not careful.

As before, I'm not writing a full guide. Buy a compact front-drive car with around 180 horsepower, install N2 tires, turn ASM off but leave TCS on its default setting. Trust me, after doing many practice laps, you'll be too quick for the actual test. Then you'll wind up smacking the pace car as you get over-eager. Or passing it. Either action will result in a FAIL.

Stay out of the grass. Stay out of the sand. As you approach those longer curves, anticipate and let-off the throttle when necessary. Re-introduce it in a feathering manner if you need to avoid understeer or excessive TCS activation.

Watch the pace car's brake lights (particularly after passing thru the tunnel and towards the bottom of the long hill). When it brakes, YOU brake. There is a bit of leeway here, so that if the pace car is a bit ahead of you, it's okay to "catch up" to it. Just don't hit it. During the final straight, draft the Skyline to gain some extra speed.

It ain't that hard.


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TEST IA-6: Complex Corners #3

Car: '00 Honda S2000 Type V

Tires: all-season radials (N2)

My Time: 30.380


Again with the crappy tires, but at least TCS is off so we can have a bit of fun in this delightful Japanese roadster. This test is weird because it's possible to gold it while feeling as though you've just done a crappy run (no pun intended) of driving. My gold run (no pun intended) involved a slight mid-corner slide in between one of those chicanes.


(1). IA-6 starts us off rolling in 2nd gear. Immediately you'll need to start tackling the first of the upcoming six turns. Yikes. Aim towards the left. It's okay if the entire car rolls over the upcoming rumble strip...it's okay if the inside tires roll slightly into the grass. Just hold the line.

(2). You'll leave the first bend at full-throttle and upshift into 3rd just as the S2000 redlines. As you near the next bend (a righty), let-off the gas just before driving over the rumble strip if you need to. Brakes are not needed yet. Again, it's possible (necessary, actually) to drive the entire car over the strip, and light grass contact is okay.

(3). Now there's a brief moment of full-throttle while we aim left towards bend #3. Just before rolling over the rumble strip, brake momentarily (literally just a blip), downshift into 2nd, and (again) drive the entire car over the strip. Modulate fuel if you need to, and blast off in 2nd gear.

...Modulating fuel at various moments is important. Using absolute full-throttle while leaving these bumpy rumble strips (while turning as necessary) can cause the car's rear-end to throttlesteer or even slide. Fun stuff, and a little of it can help, but too much of it will cause you to lose speed as this throttlesteer breaks into mild wheelspin and/or a slide. This is where I felt as though I was driving a bit sloppy. So try and keep as much traction to the rear as possible, in an effort to maintain speed.

(4). I found myself staying towards the left side of the track as I approached bend #4. Upshift into 3rd gear. I rolled right over the upcoming rumble strip as usual, and let-off the fuel while doing so.

(5). After literally bOuNcInG over that strip, aim towards bend #5, the upcoming right kink. This time, there's plenty of track, and the bend itself isn't so tight, so it's possible to lightly drive the inside wheels over it without resorting to driving the ENTIRE CAR over it.

(6). Just after passing this bend, give a blip of brakes. Downshift into 2nd.

(7). The Honda is now in a long right-curve, even tho it looks as tho the track straightens out for a bit. DO NOT straighten the car for long...if at all, and do not get too far over to the left Instead, stay centerish, and keep steering right. Feather the throttle as you aim the car early towards the longer rumble strip.

(8). We're still in 2nd gear. As the Honda passes the rumble strip, there's plenty of track to use. It's not necessary to make contact with either the rumble strip on the inside, or the one on the outside that's coming up on our left. Upshift into 3rd as the car makes its way onto the straight.

(9). Full throttle...and keep the roadster as far on the left-hand side of the track as you can. Try to literally drive over the little white line with the left set of tires. Pass the grandstand area.

(10). There will be a small pit lane which turns onto the track. As we pass this lane, start braking approximately at the middle of this lane while turning progressively towards the right. WE're now in a hairpin, which is the final turn.

(11). Keep braking heavily while turning-in. Aim towards the inside of the turn, but try to stay off the inner rumble strip. Downshift into 2nd. 

(12). As we drive into this hairpin, let-off the brakes, and let the car coast for a moment. Let it tighten up. If you've got a good line, it's possible to re-introduce throttle fully while steering out and crossing the finish line. The car's 2.0 liter engine will kiss its RPM limit if you don't upshift into 3rd, but this is okay.

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TEST IA-7: Complex Corners #4

Car: '87 RUF CTR Tellow Bird

Tires: medium sports (S2)

My Time: 33.885


Not particularly hard if you're familiar with Trail Mountain. Golded it on my 3rd try. A previous silver on my part involved a slight, unintended wall-slam & the resulting recovery to get back into the proper line.

The tricky part of this test is the actual car we'll be driving, which has a rear-engine layout. TCS if off, though, and the RUF sits on some decent tires.


(1). The test starts and the Yellowbird is rolling in 3rd gear. As it kisses redline, you can upshift into 4th, or keep it in 3rd. The car will redline heavily, but will not make its RPM limit.

(2). Brakes need to start early. This is a rear-engine car, and braking too late (while turning sharply) can cause a wicked slide and other assorted problems. This is why they say: slow in/fast out. It applies double when driving any sort of Porsche, as you need to start braking early, but throttle can also start early (usually before you're passing the inside apex).

 Anyways, this is tricky. There are two signs located way up in the trees on the upper right of the track. They have downward-curving arrows on them. You need to start braking approximately halfway between these two signs

(3). Aim carefully towards the left, so that the car eventually passes into the area with the yellow lines painted onto the track. Downshift into 3rd (if necessary), and then 2nd. Turn more aggressively (while still braking) once you're deep into the yellow-line area. Let-off the brakes so the RUF has a chance to turn-in more aggressively.

(4). While in 2nd gear, ease some throttle. You may need to feather it a tap or two. Just try to keep from getting too far towards the right, where the car can hit a rock wall.

(5). Blast off in 2nd. Upshift into 3rd as the car leaves this first curve.

(6). Work the RUF somewhat to the left side of the track. As it approaches the next right curve, aim this way while letting-off the throttle. The car will be flying at just over 100 mph.

(7). The track suddenly veers left. START BRAKING just before approaching this area. Downshift into 3rd.

͸ This is important. Just after the veer, the track bumps upward. This is a small hill. If the RUF is carrying too much speed at this moment, its rear-engine will cause it to twitch & lose control.

(8). As you pass over the hill, it's possible to re-apply a little throttle, but START BRAKING while turning-in as the right-hand curve (with the rumble strip) approaches. Downshift into 2nd. Try to stay over to the right without rolling over the rumble strip. This car bumps excessively if the strip gets involved, which can cause it to lose its line.

(9). Throttle in 2nd gear can be re-applied early while leaving this curve. Feather it if you need to.

(10). Now the RUF is rolling downhill. Upshift into 3rd. There are (again) some signs with curved arrows on the right side of the track. Start braking as you pass the last of these signs. Downshift into 2nd as you veer towards the inside of the final lefty.

(11). Again, try to stay off the inside rumble strip. Apply throttle early. Blast out of there in 2nd...upshift into 3rd...voila.

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TEST IA-8: City Street Challenge #3

Car: '98 Alfa Romeo 156 2.5 V6 24v

Tires: all-season radials (N2)

My Time: 1:05.525

Most people seem to hate the Hong Kong track, hence I bet many of them hit a snag here at Test IA-8. I myself had quite a few tries before I struck gold, but not to the point of true frustration like in some previous A and IB license tests.


(1). The Alfa rolls up this straight with an obvious lack of power. It feels sluggish. All we have to do for the next 14 seconds or so is upshift into 3rd, and then 4th. Don't let the car redline too heavily before you shift...that RPM limit is only a few ticks away. You'll pass under three markers towards the end of this straight: 200M, 100M, and 50M.

(2). The first turn is a daring hairpin. Just as you pass under the 50 meter marker, brake heavily. Downshift into 3rd, and then start steering inwards while you downshift into 2nd, so that you're aimed towards the inside of this hairpin (rather than too far out). Wall contact of any sort is a no-no.

(3). The gearshift indicator (if you've got it on at all) tells us to make sure we're in 1st gear. NOT! Keep it in 2nd. Let the car coast all the way, till you're about halfway thru the hairpin. Gas can be re-introduced fully now, while the TCS keeps wheelspin from ruining this precious moment.

(4). Accelerate out, letting the Alfa get all the way to the right-hand side of the track. Upshift into 3rd.

(5). The car passes under the 50M marker. There's a rumble strip approaching on the right. Just as you start passing it, brake heavily and downshift into 2nd.
(6). Aim slightly left while braking, and then let the car coast into this 90 degree bend while steering more forcefully.

NOTE: That part is important...steer lightly at first while you're still a bit away from the bend, but steer more heavily as you near the bend. DO NOT contact any walls. You'll need to drive in that classic out-in-out fashion for this particular bend. I bet the reason so many people have trouble with Hong Kong is they steer too heavily/too early, which will force a wall contact.

(7). The Alfa will bounce over this inside rumble strip, which is okay. Re-introduce fuel carefully. If you plant it all at once, that TCS will activate too heavily. Instead, try to introduce fuel in a more careful manner as the car bounces.

(8). We're now on a straight. Upshift into 3rd just as the car redlines. Don't lose speed by hitting the RPM limit. Pass under the 100M marker.

(9). Just after you pass under the 50M marker, start braking. Downshift into 2nd. You'll need to carefully aim towards the upcoming 90 degree right bend slowly, but (again) as you near it, steer more forcefully.

(10). The Alfa will bounce a little as you drive over the curb. Re-introduce fuel as soon as you're over the curb.

(11). You can use as much track as you need to...you'll have time. But get from the left-hand side over to the right eventually, while upshifting into 3rd. Don't go too far right...there's a small tire wall and it's possible to smack into it before you even notice it.

(12). Again, just after you pass under the 50M marker, start steering towards the next bend (a left) and brake heavily. If the racing line is good, it's possible to feather some fuel early while driving towards the curb. But don't give too much.

(13). As soon as you get over this curb, keep turning left so that you can tackle the upcoming 90 degree right bend.

(14). A tap of brakes may be needed just before dealing with this bend. Try and be as far to the right as possible without wall contact, so that the Alfa's inside tires bounce a little over the small, raised rumble strip. Fuel can be introduced just as you pass over this strip.

(15). And again, justify the car to the right just after getting out of bend 5. You dont' need to get all the way to the right of this short straight...centerish is okay.

(16). Tackle the final bend in a similar fashion as before. Fuel can be introduced early in a feathering fashion because the final straight has several lanes.

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TEST IA-9: City Street Challenge #4

Car: '03 Citron Xsara VTR

Tires: all-season (N2)

My Time: 42.130


If Hong Kong is the #1 most hated paved track (and I happen to think it is the most hated), Paris/Opera follows a close #2. This test is actually (again) easy for me, because I know the required racing lines. But unfortunately for most drivers, their hatred of Opera/Paris might influence their test score with bronze after bronze. Let's see if we can't fix that.


(1). The Citroen is a front-drive hatch. Crappy tires again, but TCS is off. Since there's just 106 horsepower involved, there's absolutely no fear of wheelspin in this track's slowest sections, unless you do something drastically wrong. As we roll down the first straight, all we gotta do is upshift into 3rd. Or maybe the computer does it for us, I forget.

(2). Keep the car center-leftish at first. As it approaches the upcoming blind left, steer in slightly at first, and (just like at Hong Kong) steer more forcefully as you get nearer the inside of the bend. Brake and downshift into 2nd...letting the inside tires just scrape the rumble strip. 


͸  This is a dual-chicane area...just like the one we used to dread at GT1's Route 11 track. To survive means to keep a flow going, without any wall or corner taps whatsoever.

(3). Immediately after passing the first bend, you'll need to steer right. You'll need to create a LONG arc as you make this turn. There will be a moment of coasting (no fuel) as the Citroen makes this arc. Just keep steering and aim... 

(4). ...towards the upcoming right bend, which (again) is a chicane, so you'll need to make an immediate left as well. If you do it right, brakes are not needed at all. Instead, feather the throttle as you steer.

(5). Enter a longer straight with an odd bend. UPshift into 3rd. Towards the end of this straight, try to be on the left-side of the track. The Citroen passes under a 100 meter, and then a 50 meter mark while rolling at full-throttle.

(6). Just after passing the 50M marker, make another arc towards the upcoming bend. There's a rumble strip on the right which gives a clue as to where we'll want to put our inside tires. It's tempting to brake before we enter this bend, but instead, let-off the throttle. Try to keep momentum.

(7). Just after passing the rumble strip, brake heavily, steer left, and downshift into 2nd. Again, aim the car's left tires so that they just pass over the upcoming left rumble strip without corner contact. Try to keep momentum. The car will wind up on the outside, so try not to slam the upcoming wall.

(8). Now there's a short straight. As you near the upcoming 270 degree carousel area (which the game's Information area calls a "plaza"), brake and steer left, so that the car's inside tires roll over the long, circular rumble strip. Let the car actually RIDE upon a vast portion of this strip but don't steer too hard to the point that you're also riding the inside wall.

NOTE: IT's possible to round the carousel-turn in either 1st or 2nd gear and still strike gold. If you choose 1st, throttle must be tamed back so wheelspin doesn't take over. At some point, the car will need to be put back into 2nd gear while you're still in the carousel. Wait too late, and there will be an awkward moment of RPM limitation.

(9). The final turn is just like many of the others; brakes are not involved, though. Approach...bounce over the strip, blast off in 2nd. Voila.

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TEST IA-10: 1-lap guide run

Car: '02 Toyota Caldina GT-FOUR

Track: Fuji Speedway 2005

Tires: summer radials (N3)

My Time:
2:12.645


Believe it or not, this test is super-easy, or at least it can be if we spend some time practicing. Problem is: Fuji 2005 is so-rarely used for racing in GT4. If you're like me (and are rusty at this track) take some time away from the license test and get to know the 2005 version of Fuji.

After that, it comes down to the basics: watch the pace car, and draft it down those longer straights for bursts of extra speed. When it brakes, YOU brake, particulary towards the end of those longest straights. There is a little bit of leeway, but try to get it right. Do not hit the pace car. It's possible to tap it and not FAIL the test, but these moments should be spontaneous exceptions.

During some curves, the pace car will make some brake taps that you won't need to make, and these moments are where you can make a difference between silver and gold. Re-introduce throttle when the car feels ready for it. Often, you'll "catch up" to the pace car a bit under braking, but the Skyline will get a few car-lengths ahead under acceleration, so it's advisable to as accelerate early as possible. TCS is on, but it doesn't interfere with speed quite as badly as in other cars we've driven so far, probably because the Caldina is an all-wheel drive car.

Final tip. Many of the turns at Fuji 2005 are blind, but (again) this can be easily dealt with once you learn the track.


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Test IA-11: Competition Dirt Racing #2

Car: '03 Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution "Rally Raid Car"

Tires: off-road

My Time: 29.685


Ahhh, finally an off-road track. And it's at Swiss Alps--by far the easiest of GT4's off-road tracks. Are we really in the International A section of license tests? lol.


(1). I don't have the actual figures in front of me, but I believe this car's peak horspower rests some where in the mid-5,000s. Notice it's possible to get extra speed if you shift early. So as we're rolling down this first hill, shift into 4th just after the test starts. Waiting till redline results in a slower car.

(2). There will be a long billboard on our right featuring a RalliArt advertizement. As the Raid Car passes it, initiate a mild slide by turning slightly inwards. The car is approaching a chicane area and similar rules apply off-road like they do on-road. Chief rule: keep as straight a line as possible as you roll thru the chicane. Yes, you will need to turn, but the actual first turn you'll be making should be a slight one, as the track itself curves wildly right and then left.

(3). Downshift into 3rd as you keep somewhat into the center-left of the right/left chicane.

(4). Brake more heavily once you are passing the wooden fence off to your left. Downshift into 2nd. Try to stay far inwards as you make this hard left.

(5). Throttle can be fully-used. The "Raid Car" will slide and/or understeer to the right side of the track as you leave this curve, but this is okay. There's plenty of track to use. Keep it in 2nd gear.

(6). Final curve. Test is almost over...odd, since it feels like it just began! As you approach this long righty, stay inside to the right as far as you can. You might wind up grazing the bit of grass (or whatever it is) on the inside, but don't touch the inside wall, or you'll lose your line.

(7). DO NOT brake. Instead, keep steering hard while using as much throttle as possible. YOu may need to feather it momentarily once or twice, but in general the car should have lots of throttle, which translates to lots of exit-speed.

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TEST IA-12: Driving on Snow II

Car: '95 Toyota Celica GT-Four WRC

Tires: snow

My Time: 58.841


Is it just me, or is IA-12 pathetically easy? Golded on my first try, seriously. I believe PD realized so many drivers would be bad at driving on virtual snow, they counted on the fact that this test wouldn't need such a high bar?


(1). Start test by driving and upshifting from 2nd to 3rd to 4th gear. As the Celica approaches the first of many bends, brake and downshift into 2nd.

NOTE: unlike the off-road test on dirt we just did, it's possible to gold IA-12 while getting the Celica into a mild slide. No wall-banging, of course, but generally you may find yourself getting a little sloppy otherwise. It's okay.

(2). Really, the rest of the test is just like this. You can generally follow the curves...braking into some of them, coasting & downshifting into others with no brakes. It doesn't really matter too much where you are on the track..just stay towards the inside for the majority of them....letting momentum & the car's 4-wheel drive carry you towards the outside (without wall bangs) as you leave each curve. Try to have as much traction (by straightening out the car) as you exit. Wild sliding at this point will only case the car to lose speed.

Next.
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TEST IA-13: Complex Corners #5

Car: '05 BMW M5

Tires: sport mediums (S2)

My Time: 25.556


Appropriately, we have a high-powered German automobile for this next test. It's one of Nurburgring's most daring sections (aren't they all a bit daring, though?) and the actual test lasts less than half-a-minute. But it's tricky, so pay attention. This is one of those test which I golded while writing this guide, but just barely.


(1). Rolling down a hill. Shift into 5th. There's  rumble strip on the left, and one coming up fast on the right. Another on the left. As we approach and pass each of these, justify the car towards them without bouncing over them excessively. No grass, please.  

(2). The track makes a sudden up-hill motion, with a long rumble strip on the right. You'll be doing just over 150 mph when you finally brake. This should happen roughly halfway up the hill. Brake long and hard (no pun) while steering the car slightly left. Downshift into 4th at some point (preferably before the upcoming rumble strip).

(3). The M5 will approach and have no choice but to make contact with the upcoming rumble strip on the left. Keep braking and steering slightly. Downshift into 3rd at some point (this actual point can vary).

(4). There's a lot of bouncing at this point, and you'll be fighting to keep control. The rumble strip flying towards us on the right can be navigated over fully. I've even heard the sssssss of grass under my tires, yet the game didn't fail me.

(5). Reintroduce throttle in 3rd carefully, while keeping the car somewhat on the right of the track. You'll pass over a bunch of chalk-graffiti.

(6). On the right is a small blue & red sign. Brake just as you pass this sign and downshift into 2nd.

(7). There will possibly be a moment where you'll need to just let the car coast uphill as the track weaves left. Things are very narrow at this point, so try and keep to the left. Again, it's okay to roll somewhat over the inside rumble strip.

(8). Still in 2nd gear, and now the track weaves right. Let the car coast while it gets situated into a good line, and re-introduce throttle, letting the M5 take as much track-space as possible so good exit-speed is guaranteed. It's okay to roll somewhat over the final rumble strip on the left.

(9). Accelerate out...shift into 3rd...guten arbeiten. Ja?

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TEST IA-14: Complex Corners #6

Car: '02 TVR Tamora

Tires: summer radials (N3)

My Time: 14.025


Ahhh. Now this test is alot harder than it looks. Here's me actually scoring several bronzes before victory struck. There are just three turns to tackle, the test barely lasts 15 seconds (assuming a bronze run), yet there's alot going on.


(1). The test starts us on a small straight. Upshift into 3rd and 4th while getting on the far right-side of the track.

(2). The track segues off to the right, but we won't be going that direction. As soon as you start to pass this segue, start heading left instead.

(3). Cut throttle to about half as the TVR passes over (or past) the rumble strip on the left.

(4). Just like at Opera/Paris, you'll need to create an arc of a racing line where no obvious arc exists. About halfway between the left you just passed and the upcoming bend, brake heavily while turning and downshift into 3rd. 64 mph at the slowest.

(5). The flat rumble strip will be right in front. Give partial throttle momentarily as you pass over it.

(6). Now the track bends right. Brake heavily while turning, so that the car winds up heading towards the rumble strip approaching on our right. DO NOT downshift into 2nd. The TVR engine has lotso torque, and can handle a 3rd-gear pull.

(7). From here, it's all about exit-speed; the finish is just ahead. Use as much throttle as you need to (seriously). The car may weave side-to-side a bit as you get off that rumble strip. It's okay. I actually drove a bit into the grass unintentionally as the TVR got a little squirrely. But I got my gold. :)

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TEST IA-15: 1 Lap Guide Run

Car: '91 Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.5-16v Evo. II

Track: Nurburgring

Tires: all-season radials (N2)

My Time: 8:42.021


Another mild gold. Seriously. I'm somewhat convinced PD did this test to make sure drivers learn the art of knowing when not to pass another car. Real-life race drivers with prowess sometimes spend vast amounts of time following others, even if these leading cars are inferior. It's completely possible to pass the Skyline at several points of the test just by drafting it. Yet if you do so, you'll FAIL

So that's the trick. Learn the track (you should already have it down by now, right?) and follow the previous rules regarding the stupid pace car. Don't hit it...don't pass it...bla bla bla. It's possible to tap it and not FAIL, but these moments should be unintentional exceptions.

My first run..I screwed up and went off-track. My second run was a gold. The test winds up feeling very mild if you do it right...almost like you're restraining yourself instead of really going for it. I mean...I beat IB-15 by something like 10 seconds, fer cryin' out loud!

Some hints: many curves can be left while using 3rd gear. 2nd only becomes needed in the tightest, slowest of corners. Depsite the fact that the Benz is on crappy tires, you'll only need to worry about wheelspin at the very beginning, when the car needs a 1st-gear launch.

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TEST IA-16: Graduation Test


Car: '92 Nissan R92CP

Tires: super-hard compound racing slicks

My Time: 1

So let's be honest. Some of these tests have been walkovers. Some of them have been mildly challenging. I'd say IA-1 (the Jaguar at Midfield) was toughest so far. Other than that, I haven't broken a sweat. Well, that's about to change.
















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