Your only goal is to collect all ten flags as quickly as possible. You need to pay constant attention to two things: the zoomed in view of the world that occupies most of the screen, and the radar view of the world to the right.
The radar view provides you with two key pieces of information: the relative position of the flags in the world, and the proximity of the enemy cars to yours. Yellow dots in the radar view denote the flags' locations, red dots represent the enemy cars, and the dot flashing black and gray represents you.
The method you use for collecting the flags is of utmost importance. It is usually best to try to hop from one flag to whichever flag is closest, but the enemies will make that quite difficult to do. As a general rule, do not reverse your direction unless it is absolutely necessary and completely safe to do. If you have to choose between getting close to an enemy to pick up a nearby flag, and abandoning that flag for a farther flag, go for the farther flag. The more distance you put between you and the other cars, the safer you will remain.
In general, you will be safe off if you choose a direction to collect flags, clockwise or counter-clockwise, and stick to it throughout the duration of the stage. The smokescreen is an invaluable and incredibly tempting tool to use. But if you use it excessively, you will deplete your fuel supply very rapidly, making it more likely that you will run out of fuel before you collect all ten flags, which will almost ensure your demise.
Challenging stages occur before each maze change, which occurs each time the round number is one less than a multiple of four (the challenging stages occur on the third, seventh, and every fourth round thereafter. In these stages, you are free to collect all of the flags without being harassed by enemy cars until your fuel runs out. However, you can still crash into parked cars and rocks, so be careful.
Easter Egg :
1) Enter service mode.
2) Keep B1 pressed and enter the following sequence : UP(x2), DOWN(x7), RIGHT, LEFT(x6)
3) '(c) Namco LTD. 1980' will be added at the bottom of the screen.