August 31, 2023

Defensive Driving in Racing: How to Protect Your Position and Keep Your Rivals at Bay

Dion von Moltke

Car Racing

Defensive Driving in Racing: How to Protect Your Position and Keep Your Rivals at Bay Image

Welcome to the world of racecraft and defensive driving! Whether you're a seasoned racecar driver or an enthusiast looking to improve your skills, understanding the art of defending your position on the track is crucial.

In this blog, I'll share my experience and knowledge as a pro racecar driver and Blayze coach to help you become a master of defensive driving, ensuring you stay ahead of your rivals and maintain your position.

In this action-packed guide, we'll cover the four main components of good defending:

  1. Know where your competitors are likely to try and overtake you and where they are faster than you
  2. Be proactive with any defending move
  3. Focus on getting good corner exits
  4. Keep your eyes up and look forward

Let's dive into the world of racing and explore car positioning, blocking techniques, mirror driving, race strategy, and situational awareness to protect your position and keep your rivals at bay.

Overtaking Zones and Corner Exits

The best overtaking zones on a track are usually the largest braking zones. As a defender, you should focus on getting excellent exits out of the corners that lead directly into these overtaking zones. This will make it harder for your competitors to get close enough to attempt an overtake.

When defending, prioritize getting good corner exits over carrying a lot of entry speed or maintaining high mid-corner speed. This approach will make it more challenging for rivals to overtake you on the outside.

Check out this video that shows you how to use this technique in more detail to keep your laptimes fast while defending.


Proactive Defending Moves and Blocking Techniques

If you need to make a defensive move, remember to be proactive rather than reactive. If the car behind you has already moved to the inside and has some overlap, it's too late to go defensive. Be ready to go defensive as soon as you realize you didn't get a great exit, or if the car behind you gets a better exit.

You're allowed one move. If you go defensive to the inside, that's your line, and you can't swing back to the outside. If the car you're defending against gets some overlap with you before the turn-in point, make sure you give them room (a car width and 6 inches). Whenever possible, try to force the car attempting to overtake you to do so on the outside, making it more difficult for them.

Remember, never make a defensive move in the braking zone, as this can lead to significant accidents. Employ effective blocking techniques while maintaining safety and fairness on the track.


Situational Awareness and Mirror Driving

When defending, it's crucial to read where your competitors are faster than you and vice versa. However, don't just stare in your mirrors. Instead, time your mirror checks to occur once you have the car straight at corner exit and then again a few hundred meters before your next braking zone. This will give you enough time to scan your mirrors, judge the situation, and refocus on your main reference point on the track.

As you improve, you'll want to view your side mirrors in your peripheral vision just before the turn-in point. Knowing where your competition is faster will help you understand when you need to go defensive and when you don't.


The Importance of Good Exits in Race Strategy

Lastly, getting good exits is crucial. Even if the car behind you is faster, if you consistently achieve good exits, you'll be extremely hard to overtake. In this situation, focus less on turning fast lap times and more on keeping your rivals behind you.

Take a more conservative entry speed to ensure you can execute your initial throttle and full-throttle application points effectively. This strategy will help you maintain your position and keep your rivals at bay, allowing you to focus on your overall race strategy and performance.

Have you ever wondered why you can’t overtake cars that you're faster than?  This is probably one thing they are doing well!  We have a video breaking down how to make the overtake in those situations here.



Defensive driving is an essential skill for any racecar driver. By understanding the four main components of good defending and following the tips shared in this blog, you'll be well on your way to mastering the art of defensive driving. Integrating car positioning, blocking techniques, mirror driving, race strategy, and situational awareness into your racing approach will help you protect your position and keep your rivals at bay. Stay focused, proactive, and aware on the track, and you'll see improvements in your ability to defend your position and excel in competitive racing situations.

If you want to make sure you’re not only racing effectively but cleanly as well, check out this webinar from Randy Pobst on the fundamentals of clean racing!


Q&A with Dion von Moltke on Defensive Driving

Here are some typical questions drivers have for me on this subject:

1. How do I practice and improve my defensive driving skills, both on and off the track?

Dion:  This is a great question and honestly it’s really hard to practice.  Here are some of the best ways to do this:

  1. If you have a friend in a similar-ish car, try and work together during a session or two.  Dedicate a session to have one of you working on defending and one on overtaking and then switch for the next session.  
  2. Sim racing is actually a decent tool here.  Find people at similar levels to you and work on your overtaking/defending.
  3. Studying!  Go and watch some pro races (especially onboards if you can) and try to study how they defend.  Look at when they do it, when they don’t, etc.
  4. Work with your Blayze coach.  The single best thing you can do is send in your onboard video from your races to your Blayze coach and have them coach you on all things racecraft.


2. How do I adapt my defensive driving strategy to different types of race cars, tracks, and racing conditions?

Dion:  A lot of the fundamentals here apply in any racecar, on any race track, in any condition.  Obviously, a big part of defensive driving is knowing when you should even be doing it. 

Lap 2 of the Rolex at Daytona 24 Hour?  Probably not the right time for it, just let the faster car go and continue on.  Last lap of the Daytona 24 Hour?  Well, yeah defend like your life depends on it!

A big part of it is studying each race track and knowing where those big overtaking zones are.


3. What are some exercises or drills to enhance situational awareness and mirror driving skills?

Dion:  Vision is something that is highly trainable.  I highly recommend spending some time doing vision training drills like this one.  If you’re looking for more help on the vision side then check out this Blayze webinar.


4. How do I manage stress, decision-making under pressure, and maintain focus during intense competition?

Dion:  This is where meditation and focusing on your breath becomes SO important.  We need a clear mind to be able to stay present and deal with stress.  I would highly recommend watching this in-depth convo on performance mindsets and how to train your mind for motorsports.  I also wrote about my race week prep which covers part of my mental training routine to help with this here.

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About the coach

Dion von Moltke

Daytona 24 Hour Winner

Car Racing

I've spent 20 years of my life in this sport that we all love so much. During that time I was fortunate enough to have a 10 year professional career where I won the Rolex at Daytona 24 hour, the Sebring 12 Hour (twice), and became an official driver for Audi. After retiring from professional racing I became a co-founder at Blayze. My goal with building this platform is to make it more affordable, accessible, and convenient to learn personally from the best coaches in the world!

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