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So I just finished my first race in iRacing online and I have to say it was absolutely fantastic. In this video, I’m going to cover a replay of the race and explain how I drove the car and more importantly, how I learnt about the car and how to drive in iRacing so that you can maybe use this in your driving and ultimately become a faster sim racer. I’ve been racing professionally for over 20 years and I’ve been coaching for over fifteen. I want to take that experience to help you become better sim racers. 

I just left the car in neutral, got some RPM up and then popped into first gear. It isn’t the ideal way to get away from the start, but I didn’t really want to run the risk of making a mistake when I don’t exactly understand how I should have done it previously. 

So in this video, I wanted to explain exactly what I learnt in my first race in iRacing, and I think it’s important that I initially speak about my process before I even started the race. I only did, I’d say fifteen laps, in iRacing before this race, I didn’t want to give myself too much time because in the real world we don’t get a lot of track time. So I want to keep that time pressure on me because it kind of replicates what I’m trying to achieve in the real world and for me, that’s the whole point of the sim and using the sim. It’s to replicate the real world and for me to build on my experience and practise for the real world. 

So first of all, I’m driving the Mazda Global Cup car, I have to say, it’s very realistic. I’ve driven these Mazdas a lot in real life and the way that this car reacts and the about of grip it’s got is very, very similar to the real world. So I guess that’s the first learning that I had while I was testing and while I was building my pace in this car, was that this car is all about managing the weight and moving that weight from the front to the rear and how you turn the car into the corner as smoothly as possible. It’s very, very sensitive to braking so that means that if you think about how the weight is moving around the car when we break into the corner, we need to be super gentle. At least when we turning the car into the corner on the brake pedal, if we carry the brakes in too much as we’re coming into an apex then the nose will be down because of the deceleration, it will have too much weight and then it will oversteer. And that’s typically the first problem that we see in the sim here, is that all of the drives are oversteering on the way into the corner and it happens in the real world, too, where it’s our natural reaction to over brake going into the corner but actually, it reduces how much grip we’ve got in the car. So to be quick in this Mazda specifically, we need to have very, very gentle braking as we enter the corner. You can actually turn the car in and then if you need it to turn in some more, you can grab a little bit more braking, give the front some more weight and some more grip and it will turn the car. So if you watch my footage now and watch the braking as I come down and start-finish straight here, we’re going to be heading into turn one, which is one of the bigger braking events on the circuit and, by the way, just to fill you in, I’m in first position. There’s a guy probably a couple of seconds behind me who is reasonably quick but he kept on making mistakes so he backed away but I’d prefer to talk about the technique here. 

So just watch the braking trace here and look at how gentle it is, now, there’s a tiny little bit of braking going through that previous corner. This section doesn’t require any braking, but the next section, if you watch the brake pressure, look at how lightly I’m braking and this is because I don’t want to transfer grip to the front and away from the rear of the car. Look at how light the braking was there, it was only a hint on the brakes and that’s because I don’t want the oversteer when I go in, watch the braking again, lightly there, right. So it’s quite heavy in a straight line but then as soon as we come into the turning point and getting much, much lighter on the brake pedal – anything more than that and we’re going to get oversteer and drop the grip out the car. So my suggestion to you in this area is to actually really, really focus on, first of all, whether the cars are oversteering on the entry to the corner and if it is, work back from there and get more and more gentle on the brakes at the point when you turn the car into the corner. It’s fine when you’re in a straight line to brake hard because all the tyres grip is being used for actual deceleration but if it comes to the point where your turning in and you’re really heavy on the brakes, this car specifically and to a probably lesser extent in the other cars, although I haven’t driven them yet, will oversteer on the way in if you’re trailing the brakes in too much. 

So beyond that, the next point where I’m struggling with this car is as we came into the apex, it still had the oversteer. If you think about the platform of the car and how that’s reacting, we’re going into the corner and we’re having to decelerate because we need to slow the car down slightly for the corner. So the nose is down and we’re off the brakes but we’re still decelerating so the nose is still down. What we want to do here is actually get back on the throttle to settle the rear of the car down, transfer the weight to the rear of the car, improve the balance, give the rear some more grip and then find your way through the corner. So the important thing here is that you don’t get on the throttle way too hard, we don’t want to be accelerating in a jerky fashion, we want to be supporting the rear, just breathing into the accelerator pedal so that we settle that rear down. So if you watch it going into the next corner, you’ll see that when I do get back on the throttle, it’s just a little bit just to settle the rear of the car down, so off, a little bit on now, and now we’re going back on the accelerator pedal and into the next section as well let’s watch it again. We’re braking gently, back on the throttle a little bit and now going and it shows you even more in that corner that there’s a point in the corner, the mid-corner, where I’m early on the throttle, maybe 10% or 20% and the whole point of it isn’t to accelerate the car through the corner, it’s to settle and redistribute the balance of grip. 

So we’ve got the car working well on the way into the corner, at the mid-corner and then the next section is just to wait in that area of the corner before you actually get on the throttle quite hard. Now, this Mazda doesn’t happen a huge amount of power so it means that you can get away with slightly harsher inputs once the car is settled down and you can get it out the corner. Again, like I said, at the mid-corner we don’t want to be stomping on the accelerator, that will cause the car to slide and possibly even understeer. If you stomp on the throttle mid-corner, it sits the rear of the car down quickly and depending on what’s happened before that, if the cars neutral and you stomp on the accelerator, it can just cause understeer because it picks the front of the car up, it loses its connection with the track and you just understeer off of the circuit. So you need to make sure that you get the throttle nice and smoothly, wait until we’re coming through the apex, you can feel that the car’s kind of set there and it’s biting into the track before you get on the accelerator. Obviously, if this car was a higher power car, then you would want to be even smoother as you get in the accelerator, even when you’re coming out of the corner, because it has the potential to wheelspin but this Mazda, it doesn’t really do that. 

So just to update you with the race, we are three-quarters of the way through, I’m still in the lead and I’m just starting to pull away from the car behind me at this point. He was about as quick as me, as I mentioned, but he was making those mistakes. 

So I just like to run you through a lap here at the Lime Rock Park. I’ve never driven on this circuit before, so we’ll go from the start-finish straight. We are into the first turn, we’re braking, just before the second braking mark, I think and then we’re going down two gears down to third gear, four, three, two, now on the brakes, just before the first one. Get the car down towards that first apex and we want to be actually back on the throttle a bit here on the concrete, then lifting off to get the nose in to get it to turn and then accelerating through here. I found a wide line initially here was working well and then just balancing the car all the way through here and then if you did it properly and wanted to take a bit of risk, you could get through that previous right-hander flatter. Now, the next right hand is a very difficult corner, it requires a tiny, tiny amount of brake pressure and then a little bit of support on the throttle, wait, and then accelerate once you get the car settled down. Really important as you come up over the brow there to get the car as straight as possible, any steering angle there and it could cause a horrible kind of snap oversteer moment. Coming into the final corner here, we can turn the car in flat out, before we have a bit of a lift, support the rear and then accelerate hard. I did lift a little bit early in that example there, but it was coming to the end of the race and I wanted to make sure that I didn’t make any mistakes because this was the first one and I’m thinking about my safety rating and trying to gain those points. To be honest with you, I don’t understand everything in iRacing yet, I’ve literally spent 30 minutes on there trying to understand, I thought this was the best place to start, I’m not sure. 

Let me know what I should be doing next but I plan to do a few races each week, maybe three races each week, and record my learnings through those races. I mean, I really enjoyed the race, to be honest with you the way that it felt and the nerves that I felt were pretty much the same as real-world racing. The concentration here seems to require a little bit more focus from me, when I’m in a real-world racing car I find that because of the G-force and the way the car’s moving, you feel a lot more action going on it’s easier to keep your focus. I could feel my focus drifting off a little bit in the sim racing and I had to bring myself back to actually think okay, consciously where I should be looking and how I should be working through each lap. But the nerves were incredible, I actually think it’s easier to make a mistake in the sim racing than it is in the real world. I don’t quite understand why that is yet, I’m sure I will understand it with a bit more experience, but, yeah, absolutely fantastic, I’m going to be doing much more racing, particularly in iRacing from now on. 

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