DiRT Rally 2.0 is Codemasters’ latest entry into the world of Rally simulation. While the grueling world of Rally can be rather intimidating, there are several ways that even a complete novice can get their foot on the throttle.

Start Off Slow

DiRT Rally 2.0’s career mode is really a great place to start for a novice dipping their toes into the world of Rally for the first time. The career starts you off in a classic, the Lancia Fulvia. A front-wheel drive car packing a little over 100 bhp, it’s a great car to start in to learn the basics of Stage Rally. It’s not a fast car, and your competition in the first season is at a level where you can make a few mistakes and still set a competitive time.

Your first season will have you racing at every location in the base game, giving you the chance to experience every surface the title has to offer. You can, of course, start out in Time Trial, or even in the Historic career mode, where if you really want to get into the rear wheel drive cars, you can. Personally, I recommend sticking with the front wheel drive cars until you feel comfortable with the concepts of Rally, listening to pace notes, and getting through a stage safely.

The car you start off with might well be a lot slower than most in DiRT Rally 2.0, but slow doesn’t always mean safe. It is still easy enough to have yourself a nasty accident, and you’ll really have to drive on the edge if you want to get the most out of the car. The more you play, the more you’ll learn. This, of course, goes for any car, but don’t try to run before you can walk. You might have got yourself a fancy Porsche on day one, but that doesn’t mean you can drive it. Which leads us nicely onto the next point.

DiRT Rally 2.0 Golf GTI

Learn to Steer With Your Right Foot (or Finger)

The biggest challenge for most is taming a car on a loose surface. Obviously, you steer the car with the front wheels, but the throttle has more of a role to play in steering the car than most think. It all depends on the layout of your car. With a front wheel drive car, the throttle drags you through the corner, but too much can also cause you to understeer off the nearest cliff edge. Rear wheel drive cars are all about balancing the rear of the car with the throttle to rotate the car through and out of the corner. 4 wheel drive cars generally sit somewhere in the middle.

Front wheel drive cars are all about balancing the power so you don’t overpower the wheels, causing you to lose front end grip and understeer, while also remembering that it’s a perfect safety net should things get a little too sideways. Just because there’s no power going to the rear doesn’t mean that you won’t oversteer, and you might even find that some cars tend to oversteer off the throttle as there’s no load at the front to balance the car. Use this to your advantage to rotate the car through slower corners, and simply point the wheels where you want to go and stamp the throttle to drag the car back where you want it to go. You just performed your first front wheel drive save, good work.

Rear wheel drive cars are a totally different story. You’ll spend a lot of time with the car ‘off-balance’ in some form of a slide, helping you to rotate the car through the turns. The fine art here is balancing the car on the throttle and finding the right amount of input to keep the car sliding, without applying too much causing the car to spin, or too little causing the car to straighten up and dive into a tree. If the corner starts to tighten up, more throttle will turn the car more, and drive you closer to the middle of the road. As it opens up, a balance of steering and throttle control gives you the optimum speed through the corner.

When it comes to initiating a slide, you have a couple of options. The most tempting is the handbrake, but generally, that’s for the tighter corners where you really need to kick the rear out. More commonly, using weight transfer will get you through the corner in a much more controlled manner. Often referred to as a Scandinavian Flick, you turn away from the corner under braking, before swinging the car back around to unsettle the rear and get the car into a slide. You can also achieve a similar result by stamping the throttle on turn in and then finding the balancing point, which often helps with transitions. The key to all of it is to not treat the throttle like an on/off switch.

DiRT Rally 2.0 Ford Escort MK2

The 4 wheel drive cars in DiRT Rally 2.0 sit somewhere in the middle. You’ll be able to drag the car back from slides with the throttle, and also be able to balance slides with throttle control. It’s still more than possible to spin these machines, but they tend to be far more forgiving than their rear wheel drive counterparts.

Make the Switch to Manual Gears and put the Clutch to Work

Long story short, the more control you have, the better. Kinda goes without saying really. Using a manual transmission allows you to control your revs and power delivery, which when coupled with proper throttle control, gives you the power you need to get out of a corner and keep the wheels turning.

Being able to hold off on a shift for a particular corner where you need to keep the revs high and keep the wheels spinning is a massive advantage, as more often than not an automatic will shift as soon as you reach the top of the rev range, losing you the momentum you need just as you start to slide.

oh, and turn on the clutch override. Especially helpful in the older turbo cars, clutch override allows you to kick the clutch which can help you to rotate the car, but also allows you to spike the revs and in the case of the terribly latent turbos in the older cars, build up some boost. Try it. Grab an already scary Group B car, and out of a slow corner give the clutch a kick. thank me once you’re out of the ditch.

DiRT Rally 2.0 Audi Quattro Screenshot

Learn the Basics of Tuning

As you get better at keeping the car under control, you’ll find yourself wanting more in certain areas. Be it a better turn-in, or higher top speed. Thankfully, you can achieve these with some simple, and some not so simple tuning adjustments.

Thankfully, DiRT Rally 2.0 is kind enough to explain what each adjustment will do to the car. For higher top speed, you can adjust the gear ratios. extending 5th gear slightly will give you greater top speed, at the cost of acceleration in that gear. generally, if you make one gear longer, you want to adjust the gears before slightly to bridge the gap. You might also want to adjust a gear if you feel you’re hitting the limiter in that gear a lot, for example, if a Rally stage has a lot of corners that sit between gears and you’re caught wanting to shift up, lengthening the gear can help to combat this.

Some simple suspension adjustments can also do wonders for how the car performs, but can also do as much harm as they do good. You have 10 shakedown runs in a Rally and 2 practice sessions in a Rallycross event. These are perfect for trialing adjustments but be warned, in career, you’ll be paying for it if your adjustments send you into a tree. I’ll write an extended guide to suspension tuning in the near future, but for now, follow what the game tells you. Oh, and drop the ride height a bit on the tarmac.

Find the Cars That Speak to you

One of the greatest features in DiRT Rally 2.0 is the sheer variety of cars available. There’s a little slice of everything, from the pioneers of the sport, through the fire breathing dangers of Group B to the R5 class that is a staple in national and international Rally championships alike. While I strongly recommend experiencing every car on offer in the game because well, they’re brilliant, finding that group of cars or even that specific car that speaks to you can be a great way to improve.

DiRT Rally 2.0 Renault Alpine Screenshot

Finding something you want to drive is easily the best way to build up seat time. Finding the little nuances that make the car special, and separate it from the competition. Even within the more strictly homologated R2 and R5 classes, each car has its own little quirks. Hell, you might just like a car for the way it looks, or maybe you’re a brand loyalist. Cars can speak to you for a variety of reasons, all that matters is that they do. You’re much less likely to give up on learning a difficult car if you enjoy something about it.

Take on board a few of these tips and you’ll be finding life out on the stage an awful lot easier for yourself. How are you finding DiRT Rally 2.0? let us know in the comments below!

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So… I'm a number of months behind on this guide, but I did want to drop a line and say FREAKING THANK YOU!!! I've been on the hunt for half-decent resources on Dirt Rally 2.0 (not helpful when the game has virtually zilch in terms of guides or tutorials), and every guide I've found basically amounts to "Press (A) to start game".