Haha, no head starts in Wipeout for me unfortunately. God knows I need them as I've really slipped lately and I'm not what I used to be.
Regarding the Director status, I'm one of three people who processes submissions regarding Platinums and 100%'s into a list which shows all of the site members who have obtained them in a particular game. Check out the Max Clubs for more info.
Oh and Challenger told me that you'd be popping round to see him. Did it happen, and if so, how did it go?
If I'm going into a wide turn a little too hot, I let off the gas. If I need to adjust my line for a stopwatch far inside, I use the normal L2 brake and angle in. For those really sharp turns, I stomp the airbrake, line up in the direction I want to go, and hit a nitro. Mastering the drift+nitro technique for all sharp corners is quite often the difference between winning and losing. I did tips & tricks writeup for Blur here, with stuff on both racing technique and general powerup management.
Car selection and efficient nitro use are usually the main difference. I started with Shannon's Astra Extreme because of the raw speed/acceleration, but ditched it because the drift induced lost speed around the wide corners where the normal Astra Extreme could grip the entire way through. When I got my 30, I knew I left about 2 seconds of play... and Conceptfly found it. There's probably another 2 seconds worth of perfect execution to squeeze out of that track.
Conceptfly and I have talked about the offline a lot, and agreed that a hardcore racing mode (aka time trial, no weapons) for all the offline tracks was a sorely-missing aspect of the game, and one that would've made it a lot deeper than it is already. We've been going back and forth on the checkpoint leaderboards, so it's great to add you to the mix.
As for the weapons, it's similar to Wipeout but a lot more pronounced, due to static placement of the powerups. Usually if you can survive the first half lap, hitting your lines will help you break from the pack. There's certain tendencies people always have (like lining up at a distance to pick up a certain powerup) that you can rely on to use offensive/defensive maneuvers. That just comes with time.