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Learn how to race gracefully with our ‘Gran Turismo Sport’ sportsmanship guide

Gran Turismo Sport Sportsmanship
Gran Turismo: Sport Sportsmanship Guide Image used with permission by copyright holder
Gran Turismo Sport (out now on PlayStation 4) is an entirely different kind of racer. Far from the raucous blasts and shells of Mario Kart, or the underglow and street racing of Need for Speed, the new GT is all about racin’ classy and looking the part. Understanding that most of us aren’t used to racing like the actual pros, Polyphony’s latest release uses a strict metric for determining sportsmanship. Hit another car? That’s a mark. Leave the track? Also a mark.

Instead, the objective here is to help train up new players to respect the rules of the road. But, since this isn’t driver’s ed or Rainbow Road, we compiled a list of tips to help you hone your game and boost your sportsmanship rating (SR) in this Gran Turismo Sport Sportsmanship Guide.

Gran Turismo Sport Sportsmanship
Image used with permission by copyright holder

How the Sportsmanship Rating works

The first thing to know, of course, is what sportsmanship is. GT Sport includes a pair of training videos that … are rudimentary and a tad condescending. In general, the game considers anything that “makes you look bad” as bad sportsmanship. Encouraging all players to follow standardized rules — don’t hit others, don’t weave to block the paths of others, don’t nudge people off the track, etc.

Each of these affects your sportsmanship score, which determines who you can play in online matches. If you race well, you will be matched with other classy players. Race like a jerk and you will become a ghost car — helpful in not hitting others, but clearly a digital dunce cap.

As you compete in online multiplayer races, you will notice one of two lights occasionally pop up. Green means you’ve done something to boost your sportsmanship score, orange-red means you have gone down. Keep an eye out for these lights, as you can miss some very light nudges that you may not think count. Over time, the idea is that you will spread yourself out a bit more and become a more defensive driver.

Learn to pass

The biggest adjustment that sportsmanship forces comes from learning how to pass another car. There is a proper way to do it, and there is quite a bit to keep in mind.

Overtaking other cars is, of course, essential to winning races, but nudging other cars in the process can yield hefty demerits. You need to take great care in both how you pass, and, sadly, how you react when other cars try to pass you if they’ve got the speed.

For starters, you want to single out the lead car in a cluster — or perhaps the race lead overall. Steadily move up to them and begin drafting, driving directly behind them, if you can. This is risky, as you have to match their speed almost exactly and if you’ve got a turn coming up, you may have to abandon the attempt and move back to safe position.

If you can get it right, though, you get a nice speed bump, using the car ahead of you to take the wind resistance, giving your engine a slightly easier time. When you’re ready and confident, move away from your target car — going to either side — and flash your headlights, indicating that you intend to pass. They should give you some room, but they will also probably start pushing their car a bit harder to hold onto the spot. If you’ve done it right, though, the draft will give you the speed to move up.

IMSA RXR One Super Gran Turismo
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Easy driving

Many of the rules of real-world racing exist to protect the drivers. Making it illegal to ram others makes a lot of sense as a ground rule when you are both inside two-ton machines hurtling around at 200 mph. These rules aren’t always intuitive, however, and can be tough to learn. More specifically, getting a feel for cars and courses simply takes time.

It really does pay to spend some time in the game’s campaign before jumping into Sport mode. These challenges are very simple and direct. You start with the most basic of basics — moving forward — and work your way up to lap sections and whole tracks that will teach you how to race clean and professional.

Do not overlook this. GT isn’t like any other racer, and unless you are very, very experienced (i.e. have a racing wheel peripheral), you don’t want to be dipping into the game’s inline sport modes until you have a solid grasp of the rules of racing.

Play the long game

Our last tip comes in two parts, but can be summarized as “be patient.” It can be tough, we know. We all want to win and we all want to go fast — that is why we are playing racing games, after all. It takes time, but it definitely pays to think past the next few seconds.

Without more aggressive driving tactics, you want to take your time in actual races. The first few seconds will be the most dangerous for you. With so many cars packed in, you will want to break away from the pack. Notice we said “break away” not zoom ahead. Going too fast is likely going to screw you on the first corner where you’ll probably either overshoot or hit someone else. Instead, you want just want to put some distance between you and everyone else.

From there, you want to take each new car or cluster of cars as a new challenge. Watch the drivers for a few seconds. What are their patterns? Where are they weak? Capitalize on those, formulate your strategy, and then start putting it in action. If, for example, you notice one car isn’t so great at cornering, you can leverage that. Ride the road to the outer edge, steer inward, and rocket forward.

Messier drivers are going to struggle, too. They will crash, likely flying off the course, due to inexperience. If you’ve gone through the campaign, though, you should be more than prepared and shouldn’t end up at the back like the rest.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Raising your score takes time

While understanding the race and the drivers around you is important, so, too, is knowledge of how you’re growing as a driver. The intention of SR to train you to be better. Many complain that you will be docked for being hit by other players, but, as in real life, that is partially your fault. Practice defensive driving. Separate yourself. Don’t follow too close (unless you’re drafting).

You also won’t be able to stop every knock against your score, and that is OK. The onus is on you to make up for that by racing clean. Complete a section of track without being a jerk, passing properly (especially by flashing lights), and generally doing well will be enough to counteract any loss.

If you do mess up, though, it is always better to go off the course than hit another driver. You may lose places, you may drop to dead last, but GT rewards drivers who understand themselves. If you brake too late on a turn, ride it out. Hit the wall. Take yourself out. It’s counter-intuitive, but it’s better to be dead last and a good sport than be the jerk at the top — in life and in racing.

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Daniel Starkey
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Daniel Starkey is a freelance game critic currently based in Minneapolis. His work can be found at GameSpot, Eurogamer, and…
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