Last week was an excitingly busy adventure. It started with a day in San Francisco at the Game Developers Conference (GDC), where Simraceway was showcasing the latest simulator hardware.

Later in the week, we filmed the first chapter of Virtual vs. Realilty. I was joined by a couple of journalists to drive the very interesting Palatov D4. The testing was done both on track and in the simulator to see how close they could get. Since I'm responsible for the “reality” accuracy, I will focus on the real side of the experience, and let YOU be the judge of the virtual one in the simulator.

Last week was an excitingly busy adventure. It started with a day in San Francisco at the Game Developers Conference (GDC), where Simraceway was showcasing the latest simulator hardware.

Later in the week, we filmed the first chapter of Virtual vs. Realilty. I was joined by a couple of journalists to drive the very interesting Palatov D4. The testing was done both on track and in the simulator to see how close they could get. Since I'm responsible for the “reality” accuracy, I will focus on the real side of the experience, and let YOU be the judge of the virtual one in the simulator.

First, it looks very good, but it also looks very small! The reasoning behind the very short wheelbase is that you actually can store the Palatov in its own custom made trailer, and tow it with pretty much any car to the closest track near you. That’s practicality!

The D4 with the Hayabusa engine is the small kid in the family. Weighing in at 900lbs, it is light but not insanely light when you think that a race-readyF3 is just about 1000 lbs. With 172 horse power, the power to weight ratio is pretty good.

After a normal quick systems check installation lap, and some ride height changes to keep the Palatov off the many Infineon bumps, I get back out on the track, and quickly start enjoying the engine choice. Ever since my Toyota Atlantic days, I really enjoy the sound of a small, high revving 4 cylinder. It is definitely a good choice in this car. The gearbox, straight from a motorbike as well, is super smooth and easy. Well, at least as easy as sequential gearboxes go.  Do stay tuned on that, as I hear that F1B's Rolling Speed might do a review on those. On the other end, I think that the slack in the double chain drive made the upshifts quick, but not as quick as a straight cut racing gearbox. The brakes are really good. Actually Dennis Palatov explained that they reduced their efficiency on purpose. Since there isn't a whole lot of mass, it brakes really well, but the problem is that being as short as it is, it becomes very pitch sensitive, and really needs a lot of spring rate to keep the front end from slamming down under braking. That makes the chassis difficult to drive really fast and aggressively. It is very easy to drive fairly quickly, but hard to reach for those last few tenths of a second. It doesn't really like trail braking or quick lifts in the middle of the corners to reduce under steer. Your best bet is to have a pretty tidy entry and then drive through a moderate under steer through the corner until you can revert into a forgiving over steer on power, particularly off slow corners. High speed corners demand quite a bit of steering effort, but not a lot of lock, so it was not a problem. One very pleasant surprise was the almost complete lack of helmet buffeting.

At the end of the day, the Palatov D4 was designed to be the perfect track car... and it does that. It will easily post times that will demand a lot of car and skill in order to be beat. In other words, it can probably beat anything that "you can drive to the track". To go faster though, you will need a car that has to be towed in by transporter, and then you’ll have to drive hard! No guarantees, though. Give it a try on the simulator!

Nico

 


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Good for you because you tried the Palatov D4. I want track racing; there’s a different kind of energy when I am out there and racing. It is a pastime that my parents do not fully support. They want me to focus on being mathematician instead of imperiling my physical being. I have to understand them because they are the one sending me to college. But the allure of the track race is irresistible honestly so maybe I will just cut down on my racing hours to focus on my studies.

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