- 3/10 - Driving on a flat, straight and level road with no distractions.
- 4/10 - Driving on a gently curving Interstate with low traffic density at a higher rate of speed than at 3/10.
- 5/10 - Driving quickly, but efficiently and at the speed limit on the street, more concentration required due to increased "hazards" present.
- 6/10 - Standard DE lap or an out lap early on in a race weekend. The purpose may be to re-familiarize yourself with the track. This is also the level of driving quickly on the Interstate with a fair bit of traffic at higher speeds.
- 7/10 - More aggressive DE level, designed to begin to "move the car around" and just a little more taxing on the car. 7/10 may also be an out lap later on in a race weekend, usually the result of greater confidence and familiarity. Relatively wide variation in lap time depending on traffic and concentration.
- 8/10 - An easily sustained level requiring high levels of concentration, generally attained after the first few laps of a race or enduro when the dust settles and you slide into driving quickly and accurately, but are not locked in a battle that is external to you and your car. The car is sliding, but only at the beginning or the end of a corner and not at all corners and not on all laps. Generally laps are within 0.8 - 1.5 seconds apart with relative consistancy. This level is generally fairly comfortable when taking passengers around the track. Plenty of "headroom" and margin for error or changeable track conditions.
- 9/10 - Driving pretty hard, but still sustainable and the driver is still relatively accurate in their placement of the car. The car is now sliding much of the time, the driver is focused on catching someone or staying ahead of someone but is maintaining control of the car as well as their concentration level. At this point, the driver is using most of the width of the road, but not much curbing, and is focusing on drawing large arcs with the path of the car. The rhythm is such that the lap times are generally within 0.2 - 0.8 seconds apart (barring traffic or mistakes). This should probably be the limit for one or two "hot laps" if you are carrying a passenger.
- 9.5/10 - Driving hard with increased sliding. Slightly quicker laps than at 9/10 and less margin for error. Much work being done by the car and the driver is now "guiding" the car on a path selected well in advance. The car is sliding from turn-in, through the apex and is using the entire width of the paved track, plus the inside curbs. Cannot generally be sustained for more than five or six hot laps. This level is probably beyond what is recommended if you are carrying a passenger.
- 10/10 - When the skill level of a substantially experienced and supremely confident driver meets the competence level of the car nearly perfectly. The car is sliding nearly the entire lap. The entire width of the road, plus the inside and outside (if available) curbing or pavement extensions are used, every corner, every lap. The previous lap is at 9 or 9.5/10 so that the "hot" lap is started at the greatest possible speed and with the highest possible concentration.
Drivers will typically drive 10/10's for one or two qualifying laps and maybe the first few laps of a race to build a "gap" to the rest of the competition. You may also drive 10/10's to experiment with changes made to the car or to evaluate tires in practice, not to mention putting in a "flyer" to achieve the psychological advantage of being on or near the top of the time sheet. <grin>
Even once you are experienced, you may not drive 10/10ís for more than a few laps during a given weekend, but you may find an appropriate time for it. The driver and car will be in perfect balance and you should only be making tiny corrections to adjust your trajectory around the track. This level probably cannot be sustained for more than two or three laps at a time so excercise it wisely. In order to be successful at the highest level of most organized competition, you must be able to drive at this level.
- 11/10 - This would be what happened just before the accident or off-track experience... <grin>
- Always remember to be careful out there and keep it safe.