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Saturday, November 5, 2011

Season 4 and other stuff

Its been a while since I made any posts here, I get distracted by shiny things and to be honest I have been more eager to actually race than to write :) In fact my last post was during Season 3 week 13 and it is now in fact Season 4 week 13, so three months have gone by

Anyway, since my last post we were about to start Season 4 2011 at iracing, 12 weeks of racing a different track each week all vying for the overall series championship.

As in my last post I decided to run my first full season in the Radical SR8, a fantastic zippy car with plenty of balls. They race them all around the world now with their popularity increasing. For an overview of the car their official site is here:

Season 4 Begins

A special note on the below, even though the iracing season is 12 weeks long, you only need to do 8 weeks with an official race to do a  'full' season as far as points are concerned. This allows people to take a 'drop' week or 4 if circumstances do not allow for racing, or one simply does not like the track. For instance I took a deliberate drop week for the round at Zandvoort as I hate that track in the SR8. This write up only includes the rounds that I officially ran, so there will not be a full 12 rounds detailed.

I wont dwell on too much detail as there was a lot to cover for the entire season. The season started at Watkins Glenn on the classic configuration, a shorted version of the track. My first race week ever here was a mixed bag. Early on I made a very rookie mistake, going too deep into the Carousel, a long sweeping right hand corner that can be tricky and T-boned another driver, effectively ending our races. I still feel terrible about it as it was only due to lack of experience that it happened.

On the plus side my 4th race saw me both start and finish in 2nd place netting my my first decent points haul, as well as points for the regional club championship.

Round 2 saw us move to Mosport International raceway, a track that at first I was not happy with, but testing and a decent setup has cemented it as one of my faves. This track/car combo is one of the best I can think of. Two races here saw two top 10 spots and more points.

Round 3 was at Suzuka, a classic race course but very tough to master. Ran 3 races here with mixed results, but two more top 10 places were involved.

Round 4 was at Silverstone in England, and was the first of the long format races of the season. To this point race lengths were 45mins timed, however Silverstone saw the length increased to 60mins. However, as things worked out I only got to run 1 race for this round, finishing 7th.

Round 5: Oulton Park Circuit.Oh man!

Ok this track is brand new to iracing and the first time any of us ran it in a series. Initial test proved to be a crazy arse goat track winding through the British country side but I picked up a practice partner for this round and we just ran lap after lap, sharing setups and this track is now my number 1 favorite track in the Radical. We ran the International configuration with no chicanes, so we retained a corner known as Knickerbrook, an almost flat chat right hand kink that I believe is rarely if ever ran in real life racing now in its original form due to safety reasons, with the usual configuration adding a chicane just before it to slow everyone down. However, in a computer game you don't need to worry about dying so Knickerbrook is go go go. Blasting down the straight, a slight lift and downshift, throw it through the corner, up a little hill and blasting into another double apex turn called Druids and you have one of the scariest and most exciting corner series in virtual racing. Watch the below vid. Knickerbrook is at 49 seconds in.

I ran 4 races here, three more top 10's in the bag and more fun than I have had in ages.

Round 5 - Brands hatch. Emits an inward groan. Classic track but so so hard to master and is the kind of track to catch many people off guard and crash them out. Turn 4 is a particularly tough corner to get right. 3 races here, best result a 5th. lots of spins and crashes however.

Round 6 moved us to Mid Ohio Sports Car Course. Now I am of the honest opinion that this track was designed but some drunk who drove a John Deer around for an afternoon and stepped back and thought, "Yep, she'll do" Elevation changes, twisty turns and only one real decent straight means you have to be on your game the whole race through. It has a couple of hairpins that are a real pain in the arse, Turn 2 I hate. However overall all the track turned out to be both a challenge and a damn lot of fun.

The most significant thing about his round was Mid Ohio so not only my first Pole Position but I also went on to get my first win in the Radical!! Woot! A very tough race, being chased by a slightly faster driver the whole time, yet I never lost the lead and got lucky with the lapped traffic to take the checkered flag and have a small stroke afterwards.

It is not all serious business however and following is a small vid of a funny incident during practice with a fellow Aussie (and Brisbane) driver. he is in the front, I am following in the white car, perhaps a little too closely.

The next couple of weeks saw a very low attendance rate by myself, I got one race at Raod Atlanta which was ruined by my pit limiter begin stuck on somehow, and never got back to the track for another race, so round 7 was a waste.

Round 8, and also officially round 12 and the Season closer brought the screaming engines of 700+ Radical races to the picturesque surrounds of Circuit de Spa Francorchamps in Belgium. every knows this track, most love it. The Radical is a work of art on here, a good setup and it simply flows around the track without thinking about it. I got 3 races here, finishing 5th, 8th and 6th to finish up the season

So with Spa finished it was tally up the points.

My personal season ran as I actually hoped, with all but one of my goals achieved, which was to finish in the top 100, I fell just short at 102, despite being 95 at the start of the week. Others simply got better results than I. I did however finish 2nd in my Divisional Championship, which exceeded my goal of a top 5.

It was a fantastic season, and a great learning experience. I went form not having done much Sim racing for a long long time to running a reasonable pace and getting reasonable results. With Season 1 2012 just around the corner I can only hope, and expect to improve.

Other Highlights:

Intel GT Series

Intel sponsored a race series, collecting the best drivers from around the world and putting up $5000 USD of prizes to the best. Qualifying went form region to region and I participated in the Australia/International/Africa  qualifiers. The races were run at Spa in the Honda Acura HPD ARX-01c Prototype. The top 20 drivers on points at the end of the week, of which I was just able to sneak in at 20th went through to the Regional Final which was held in January. I ran the race but was unable to compete with the best of our local talent and finished 13th and did not qualify for the World final and the $3500 grand final prize.

Oval Racing.

I love oval racing, but hate short tracks and at the rookie levels of iracing its mostly short tracks. However when the Street Stock cars came to Charlotte Speedway I was keen to have a crack, being a larger 1.5mile oval. I wanted to get a bit more large track experience as I have been wishing to race either the Dallara Indy car or one of the NASCAR series later down the track. So I ran a heap of races that week due to low participation for official races (need 8 cars registered for a race to score championship points) in the Radical. Hilariously my first race for the week resulted in an unexpected win:

This seasons week 13 has allowed me to race the top NASCAR Impala at Talledega, more Street Stock at Charlotte and perhaps by the end of the week I will get a chance to run the Indy car as well.

Final thoughts:

Season 4 is about to begin hooray. My focus will again be on the Radical but have a few more testing and development goals for this season. I am going to look at a lot more laps in cars like the Riley Daytona Prototype and Indy car, both on road and oval tracks and I have this weekend end begun testing the C Class Chevrolet Silverado NASCAR Truck.

Anyway will wrap things up here, been a monster post but wanted to get it done all at once so I can go back to testing the Silverado.

Hopefully I can find the time to keep this blog more up to date as well.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Endings and Beginnings

The End of Season 3

Coming recently to iRacing as I have, I pretty much dropped in to the second half or so of Season 3, which is now complete. All in all, considering my inexperience with the cars and software (and the tracks) it was a reasonable beginning to my iRacing career.

Stats so far:

Picking up my third win in the SRF was a great feeling, as it has been a real struggle to learn that car sue to its inherent over steer and keeping it stable and on the track is one thing, let alone going fast enough to win. So that's 2 wins in the Mazda and 1 in the SRF. Handy results for a start.

Having received my D Licence I did buy the Skip Barber rt2000 car, but we haven't been getting along and the SRF ended up taking my attention anyway when I had a epiphany with the car and started to turn some good times. The week 10 round at Summit Point (short configuration) was really fun and I started to show a bit more stability and consistent racing so I decided to stick with that car and do private testing in the Skippy instead. Weeks 11 and 12 saw some good fast racing, with my third win coming at Okayama in week 11 when starting from pole position and holding the lead for teh entire race, fighting off a massive charge from Till Stoecker who beat his own personal best time at the track by 2 secs to be right on my tale as we crossed the line.

A video to show how close the racing was is below, this was a battle for 2nd place between myself and another SRF driver, with the lead Solstice driver keeping with us for the entire time. This battle went on for the entire race, trading places on a few occasions.

Week 13

OK so week 13 came as a bit of a surprise to me, I was not expecting this odd week of mostly unofficial racing that was not part of the usual. Most series have been essentially put on hold while schedules for season 4 are worked out and published and the drivers get to have a bit of fun while planning their next seasons efforts. The highlight for myself has been the mixed class series involving the SRF, Solstice and both MX-5 variants in unofficial Enduro's at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, one of the worlds great tracks. Unfortunately I have not been in possession of the energy and concentration levels to have had much of a go at this, making several starts but chucking it in the dirt and retiring each time. Fortunately however since the races are all unofficial it has not matter much what kind of carnage goes on, Irating and Safety Rating are unaffected.

A fellow iRacer posted this video as a demonstration on how crazy it gets with anything up to 60 mixed cars starting and trying ot get up through Eau Rouge:

Week 13 is nearly at a finish at the time of writing this, a couple more days. I may try and get a race in but not all that fussed. I am trying to make final plans on what I would like to race and what goals i would like to achieve in Season 4. I have several options, but due to time and energy I will not be able to drive everything I could and have any sort of success in it. My current plan is to stay in the SRF and compete in its full season. I finished season 3 in a pretty good spot, placing second in my Division's championship and picking up that win. The tracks are familiar and the car is both a  challenge and fun to drive so in order to put in a  good showing in Season 4 and start to get things together. I also have the option to play around in either the Skippy or the Radical SR8. One is a D-Class car, the other a C-Class car however I am leaning towards the Radical as I always liked it in Race 07 and testing over this weekend at Brands Hatch has given me a good feeling about the car. The series also goes to some great tracks like Brands, Spa and Suzuka. Its an awesome vehicle and I am more comfortable in it that the Skippy. And its nice and fast:

So more testing to be done, plus pick up some extra tracks as the Radical season progresses, Watkins Glen being the next off the bat for week 1. Will keep the posts coming updating on my successes or failures in whichever series I decide to race in.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Losing My Virginity

That's me in the corner...

That's me in the sand trap, losing my virginity.

My racing virginity that is cos you know I have had heeeaps of sex, really truly.......

Ok so enough dilly-dallying around. After numerous private testing and Time Trials to get the hang of things, it was high time to get out and start mixing it up on the track in a real race.

Yeah...oookkk....didnt quite go as planned. However did go exactly as expected and wasnt quite the complete disaster it could have been, even granted the fact I was 13 laps down at the finish due to wrecking and needing to repair.

Despite the less than desirable finish, what time I did get running around was enough to get me excited for more races.

I kept entering races and eventually managed to run consistent enough to begin finishing in the top 5 for most runs. I picked up my first podium for 3rd place on my 3rd race and eventually repeated that with a 100% clean no incident race.


On the very same day, after a rotten race in a different class, I jumped back into the Mazda and decided to squeeze one more race in. Starting in 5th position I held my line and remained consistent while others, including faster drivers than I proceeded to wreck their own races allowing me to get into and hold the lead to clock up my very first iRacing Road Win! Winning by 6.2 secs over a hard charging Andrew Kiss, and with only 3 cars left on the lead lap it was a very good feeling to finally get the top prize.

With the week finished I was very satisfied with how it all went and was looking forward to Going to Lime Rock for the new weeks events.

Long Long ago, on a PC far away....

Many (many many many) years ago, a small PC game caught my attention. Ok well it wasn't that small, it was Microprose’s Grand Prix 2, at it’s time the pinnacle of PC racing simulations and the best way for any fresh faced racing fan to get a real taste of what it is actually like to continually crash a very expensive and very high powered car into the wall at Monaco over and over again. It was heaven. I played the death out of that game, and its followup GP3 but then, due to various reasons, mostly the larger variety of available gaming diversions I fell out of step with the Sim racing world, bar playing a lot of Gran Turismo 1 and 2 on my old PS1.

That all changed recently whilst I was casually perusing the store on Steam and came across Race 07 and picked it up for $7 or something, which is a bargain in any one's book and found myself getting the taste for racing again. Getting a further taste through some rfactor sessions and frustrating the heck out of myself (and spending the majority of my time on upside down in the gutter) with Richard Burns Rally (so so hard, its is almost sexual) I then came across the premier online racing service at Grabbed the special they had running (buy 3 months membership get 2 free, costing me in total $12) and dived in.

By this time of course I had ditched my aged Logitech gamepad for a cheap, but serviceable steering wheel.

This is then the story how I went from sucking, to sucking slightly less to hopefully becoming somewhat competent as I progress my virtual simulation racing career at iRacing.

There will also be scatterings of other games as well as I like to use the variety of several good games to practice and have fun. Particularly when I wish instant access to some high powered ridiculously fast cars that I have not earned my stripes at yet online.

Vroom, I say!

Sim racing, proper Sim racing is tough. Forget your Need For Speeds and the latest degeneration of games who were once tough but now hit thoroughly with the ‘arcade’ stick. Granted, these games are fun and are great for a bash when time is short and the smell of petrol and rubber smoke is strong, however for that true whoops-one-mistake-oh-shit-I-am-in-the-wall-again feeling you need a good Sim. You won’t find them very often on the shelf at EB Games and they are better to grab online from your vendor of choice. SimBin make a large range of titles, including GTR 1 and 2, Race 07 and its numerous and varied expansions, rFactor is a good choice and is very highly customisable covering just about every conceivable race type you can find ( I thoroughly recommend the Enduracers mod and the V8 factor super cars mod). For Rally there is only one true choice and that is Richard Burns Rally.

So where does iRacing come into this. Well check out the site at and have a look. As far as Sim’s go this is the ants pants. Endorsed and supported by many real life racing organisations (including a new endorsement by our very own V8 series) and is about as Sim as it gets. There is no dumbing down of this game, you can’t turn on easy mode. The cars and tracks are  extremely realistically portrayed and how they race in real life is how they race here.

Sounds like the stuff for me.

It is a premium service however, and you don’t get anything for free so think hard before you sign up, grab a couple of other titles and see if you really do, if you have not done so before enjoy the realism of Sim racing.

Here are the keys, for God’s sake don’t break it....

Ok so membership payapl’d. steering wheel configured and the whole night to myself I logged into the website. My, there sure is a lot of stuff here. Profile controls, press releases, video and race broadcasts, customise you car, helmet and suit colours, full calender of available races, resource documents, forums, set up guides, download links to the Maclaren Atlas Telemetry software and in amongst all of that I find the ‘go’ button. Woot!

such eager and reckless enthusiasm was of course rewarded appropriately. That is to say I spun out on the first corner and crashed into the wall. Hmm ok. Awesome. A few more laps and I had my dinky little jalopy going strong. Closing the client back down I began to find my way around the site, its systems and all its bells and whistle to find out what exactly is the point.

iRacing works on the real life principles of safe driving. That is don’t crash and don’t crash someone else. Simple really. Beginning with a basic ‘rookie’ licence your task is to drive and increase you Safety Rating (SR) in order to unlock higher licences to gain access to more events and tracks and vehicles. One does this by participating in ‘official’ sessions. These are Qualifying, Race and Time Trial sessions. Note that Time Trial is the only ‘solo’ session that you can improve you safety rating on. SR is calculated by seeing how many incident free (ie no run offs, contacts or spins) corners you go around. The more laps you can do incident free, the better you improve your SR.

Anyway, to keep this post shortish, here is a taste of a Time Trial in my dinky little purple Mazda.