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Ok. I finally completed the races and got my desired car, lancia stratos. The cobra is capable. But the some tactics. Go into the race and make sure Toyota 7 spawns on the grid at like 9th or 10th place. He will have a very hard time passing all the cars in front of him. That should buy you enough time to finish 5 laps. There is really zero tolerance for error here. Cut every corner you can. If he starts before you on the grid just exist and join the race again. Gl
The Cobra, Buick and all other similar cars are a complete waste of time IMO. I tried several cars to try to beat this, unless you can TURN you wont win these races. I tried dozens of times with the 66 Cobra, there is NO margin for error with that beast... using a controller made it impossible. You get airborn and stuff too easily.
What I did was put a wing on the 74 Lambo Countach and fully upgrade it (you can win it from some race). Increase the downforce and adjust the suspension and you are good to go. What I did on the first map: keep resetting until the toyota 7 and maybe the 2J are towards the end of the pack at the start. Then get to 2-4th place by the first turn... keep resetting until you do. Then just keep up with the cars throughout the track... your best opportunity to pass is the very first turn, you can brake much later with this car than most others. I intentionally stayed in a close 2nd holding off the Toyota 7 until the final lap... pass on that first turn and just hold the lead, use the driving line to BLOCK the cpu in turns. Dont use it for much else. Reason for staying in 2nd place? To make the Toyota have to pass another car before it could pass me... just something you dont want to have to worry about until the final lap. You might have to block a car on the final straight away.
The Second map is pretty much straight forward... Its much easier since the roads are so narrow, just take the lead and hold the lead... theres not many places the cpu will even try to pass unless you screw up. I doubt the car choice matters much here.