Try to avoid any sideslipping, any spinning the wheels, even drifts. Especially on damp/wet tarmac surfaces/hairpins. Maybe it looks very spectacularly but it takes precious fractions of seconds. However, in Australia, for example, you can already use slides.
Improve your technique by racing with weakest cars in given category. It's not difficult to obtain the fastest time on the stage when you're using the strongest vehicle - you'll probably rest on your laurels then, but this doesn't mean at all that your technique was so admirable during that race.
Many of players thinks DIRT is a racer in which you can "put a brick on the acceleration pedal" (step on the gas) and then go like a bomb, often playing with a life and death (virtually death, fortunately). Well, that's not the truth. Sometimes it's worth to take off your foot from the acceleration pedal, in order to avoid crashing (which often, especially on higher levels of difficulty, leads to the terminal damage and ends your race). Sometimes releasing gas pedal when passing the crest or jump is a sign of consideration, since the vehicle's suspension may not stand that hard landing after a jump. Similarly, if you have lost in co-pilot's prompts and you don't know what to expect on the track in the moment - slow down, or at least release the gas pedal for a while.
Gear box: automatic or manual? To be honest, my experience points to the conclusion that with automatic transmission you can drive with good results even on pro-am level of difficulty. Automatic gear box lets you concentrate only on track and co-pilot's prompts, when using manual transmission you must additionally listen intently to car's engine (its rpms) and it may draw your attention. However, manual gear box has some advantages. Time advantages probably are not worth my writing, they should be obvious for you: computer changes gears too early or too late and usually doesn't squeeze out everything from the engine. So increase of acceleration when using manual transmission is noticeable and transmits into seconds of profit on the track and better race results. Besides, manual gear box gives you a possibility of braking by reduction of gears. This method of braking allows you to avoid sliding which often happen when using hand-brake. Of course, you shouldn't overuse braking by gears reduction, because this may lead to gear box damage! Though, this advantage of manual transmission is reduced to a considerable degree by a footbrake (look below). Additionally, manual transmission has a one but pretty serious disadvantage: after a heavy impact, when you want to reverse and return on the track, shifting to the reverse gear may take precious seconds.
Brake: footbrake or hand-brake? Definitely footbrake. Why? In DIRT this brake is ultra strong (even too strong) and can save your life on very speedy straights that end unexpectedly with hairpins - footbrake lets you avoid crashing in these situations. Additionally, the footbrake does not cause sliding almost at all. You must only operate him with caution, press him (its key) for fractions of seconds. Often you can brake at the last moment, literally.
General rule of taking the corners: we're closing to them along the outer edge of the road, taking them along the inner edge and exiting the corners again along the outer edge, to gain speed as fast as possible. Of course, when you play on the keyboard, it's not easy to stick to this rule - you struggle sufficiently and almost all the time, trying to stay on the road, even on straight sections.
It's good to listen to the co-pilot, but it's even better to learn the tracks by memory.
You should always watch the replays and learn on them. It's best to observe rally car from chase cam on these replays. You will be probably very surprised when you see, for example, that it is possible to drive even closer to that wall you passed it almost hooking it up (as it seemed to you on bonnet cam view during the race).
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