This is a short guide to doing the "The Driver" mission in GTA: Vice City. The mission is the third of four Malibu missions. It's a straight-up race between you, driving a Sentinel, and Hilary (a guy you are recruiting to be your driver for a bank robbery), driving a Sabre Turbo. The Sabre Turbo has a much better acceleration and is heavier, but the Sentinel does seem to have a slightly higher top speed. You have to go through 18 different checkpoints, starting and ending near the Malibu.
This mission is hard. PC Gamer said it was "near impossible" and I've read a number of other reviews where it's claimed that it's almost unfair. In my opinion, it is probably the hardest mission in the game, by which I mean, even when you are decent at the mission, it's still hard to win. Personally I can beat this about 3 or 4 times out of 10.
There is supposed to be a quasi-cheating approach (by which I mean not using cheat codes, but doing something kind of shifty, like ramming other cars to get a head start in the Sunshine Autos races). Anyway, I forget which FAQ I read this in, but the idea is you get a 2-star wanted level before you start the mission. Supposedly then a police car rams into Hilary's car and you can easily win. I have tried this a number of times, attaining a variety of different wanted levels, but I can't make it work at all. It might a PS2 thing only, I don't know. In any case, there's not a whole lot you can do to make this easier for yourself. You can't whack Hilary, because you obviously need him for the next mission.
It is possible to change cars right at the start of the race, to get a better ride than the Sentinel. If you park a fast car such as an Infernus or a Cheetah on the sidewalk, just past the first turn (right about where you are when the announcment about an Illegal Street Race being in progress occurs), you can jump out, quickly jump in the other car and track down Hilary. If you have already done Sunshine Autos, you could use the Hotring Racer, which would probably be the best choice. A PCJ 600 is also a good choice, if you're comfortable driving the motorcycle. You are obviously a lot more vulnerable to the cop cars taking you out, though. The race is still not easy, though, although you should be able to overtake Hilary at latest on the straightaway next to the "Bunch of Tools".
Another strategy is to attempt to shoot out Hilary's tires, making his car a lot slower. This can be very tricky to do. You need to angle your car so as to make it hard for him to move, jump out quickly and shoot (carefully!) at the tires. This will obviously slow him down substantially, giving you the advantage. As always, if you blow up his car then you fail the mission.
Anyway, my record is 2:00. I don't know if there's a bug in the game, but my actual time was 1:53 when I crossed the finish line, but the game seems to add seven or eight seconds to your official time.
If you have any comments or questions, feel free to email me at: gta [at] jeays [dot] net
Thanks to Nathaniel S and Brian L for some hints on strategy.