As the winter sets in and the season comes to close now is the time to start SIM Racing. Here at Circuitguides.com we never stop. So it is onto the SIM to practice.
We use iracing www.iracing.com for SIM Racing which we highly recommend. Is it the same as racing? No not quite, but it is very very close. After a session my heart rate is at maximum and I am sweating buckets so it must be fairly close. Some things are not quite realistic, if you touch the grass you tend to be off, which if you have ever raced you know is not true (it assumes dry grass is like wet grass if you know what I mean). Not all the UK tracks are on it either, so check out the alternatives too if practicing places like Croft are important to you! https://www.circuitguides.com/croft-crash-for-circuitguides-com-car/
The most annoying thing about iracing are the tyres. They are always cold. You need to warm them up like real tyres or you will go off. Everytime you pit/quit to the garage they go cold!
Now a word of warning about the whole SIM Racing scenario. If you want to be competitive in it (to win actual SIM Races) you have to change how you drive and make it less real. For example you need to turn the engine and ambient noise down and turn the tyre noise up as even with an expensive moving rig you don’t get to feel the g’s on cornering or braking. Turning the tyre sound up give you an early warning on when the tyres are going to let go. Some other settings will need to change too, the field of view, is another example. Again our view is constrained in our car so we copy that rather than optimise it for iracing.
So when we test, which is what we normally do rather than SIM Racing, we are never anywhere as fast as the pro’s. But we try and make the car as similar to the real thing as possible, rather than as fast as possible to win SIM races. We have a Pro that coaches us on SIM Racing and he is just amazing, we are talking several seconds a lap faster than either of us can manage but he races 4 hours a day.
It means that my co-driver and I can have identical cars at the same time on the the same track. We can talk to each other, discuss lines, try different things, follow each other, race each other and generally be very silly, for not much investment. We can try two different lines or a different gear ratio into a corner and see straight away what the result is.
More importantly you can push until you crash and not have to pay repair bills! Just like F1 drivers do:)
To do the number of test laps that we drive, you would need to be at a track day every day of the week, and although I will say it is not perfect, it is really good fun and you can try different things that at a real track would take so much time and effort, on a PC it is just another click or two.
The analytics are brilliant, you can set up a ghost car to be your fastest lap, theoretical fastest lap from all your best segments and alike. It is really good.
The SIM Racing ideal lines shown are basically ‘track day’ lines, so unless you want to learn a circuit that you have never done I do not bother and turn them off.
There is lots on information on the gear you can use and opinion on which is best. But enough to say that you get what you pay for. The most important advice I can give you is that you need to decide if you want to go for a VR headset or use screens (I use 3 screens as in the pic). My co-driver loves the VR headset; the advantage is that when you turn your head you can see all around you so it is totally immersive. As a negative; by the second corner I am so sick I have to take it off! This is your largest consideration. Definitely try a VR headset out if you are considering it. Don’t skimp on the wheel and peddles either.
Here are the links to what we use:
Movement Simulator: https://nextlevelracing.com/
Peddles & Wheel: https://fanatec.com/eu-en/
Wheel Base (we did not go for Fanatec but they are good too): https://simucube.com/?v=11aedd0e4327