A borrowed PC and an ironing board: How Kiwi champ Liam Lawson is staying sharp
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A routine of training and Sim racing is the combination keeping young Kiwi racing driver Liam Lawson ready for the resumption of real competition.
The 2019 Toyota Racing Series champ, and 2020 runner-up, has been home in Pukekohe for just over three weeks since returning from the UK as the COVID-19 pandemic escalated.
By now Lawson should have completed the first round of the FIA Formula 3 Championship as a Red Bull Junior driver with the UK-based Hitech Racing squad.
The decision to head home means the 18-year-old had to complete the mandatory 14-days of self-isolation in his family home and is now filling each day with a training schedule and virtual racing.
"I’ve been running and working with body weights at home. My trainer in Europe has sent me a full programme and to be honest I’ve done as much fitness work in the last few weeks as I’ve ever done.
"Whenever the time comes to go racing again, I’ll be as ready as I can be."
Lawson, who has built a reputation as an outstanding simulator driver, has also been at work in virtual racing leagues but has nothing like the sophistication of the Red Bull Racing simulator at his disposal.
"The steering wheel and PC I have is borrowed from a neighbour. I have a little 23-inch monitor which is propped up an ironing board in my room.
"It’s very basic but it gets the job done and I can race competitively. My sponsors have just managed to get hold of a proper simulator which should be turning up soon.
"It’s interesting how important sim racing has become in the last few weeks. It’s ramped up massively."
Lawson says the are significant differences between the skills and thought processes needed to be competitive in virtual racing compared to the real thing.
"In a racing car you do nearly everything through feel. Sim racing is more visual with a bit of feedback through your hands. So, while they are similar, they are also totally different disciplines.
"In terms of the broadcast races I’ve done it’s been a couple of the 2K Cup MX-5 races and the Australian Just Send it Series.
Lawson is also in the 40-driver field racing in the April Isolation Dallara F3 virtual racing series organised by driver coach Enzo Mucci.
He has ground to make up after crashing out of the opening round at Spa Francorchamps on Wednesday and also the second race at Barber Motorsport Park earlier today.
"In the first round I got wiped out in the first corner," said Lawson.
For the second race Lawson qualified well and finished third in his heat race to start the feature race from grid five. He made it into third at the first corner but his race was soon over.
"I was on the outside and got driven off the track in the second corner. Everyone is racing very aggressively, more so than in real life," he says.
The opening race of the April Isolation F3 series saw Kiwi Matthew Payne finish sixth while Formula Ford champ Billy Frazer was tenth.