What I learnt about Sim Racing in the last few days

Simulation Racing Titles

iRacing is likely the best online racing simulator available right now

iRacing – it’s a paid subscription service and heavily marketed. absolutely amazing realism. very very strong professional community. closest thing to real life motorsport even giving drivers licenses and safety factors that are affected by incidents on the race track . endorsed by some big names in motorsport.

rFactor - PC racing simulator. a dog to use

rFactor – a strong simulator with a vibrant, open, modding and racing community. It’s free to use after the initial upfront payment like most computer games. unfortunately it’s an absolute dog to use and in dire need of a repaint – it was first released in 2005 and it shows!

rFactor version 2 is in the wings and the company has just updated the website to refer to the next major release (rFactor 2.0) even though there is no official release date for the next version yet.

If I had more time – maybe if I was a teenager again – I’d spend a bit more time with rFactor cos it has more variety than iRacing. However, given just how effortless iRacing is to play and how astoundingly accurate it is, I can’t be bothered . I’m really hoping rFactor2 will address the usability issues.

[Update 5-Jun-11: joined rFactorCentral, downloaded the Nordschleife track (2007 2.21) and a few other mods. cranked up the quality settings. the course was incredibly well done and was good to drive. So, I’d say rFactor is 2nd favourite for me.

Member submitted image of Nordschleife course on rFactorCentral


]

Simbin studios - maker of RACE07 and its mods

Simbin – I haven’t tried their games yet but they get a lot of mentions. Their RACE07 engine came out in 2007 and since then many expansion packs have been produced. iRacing has made me reluctant to bother with this series of games too though I may still bite the bullet to try their touring car games.
[Update 5-Jun-11: bought RACE07 with GTPro and STTC 2 bolt-ons… it feels like a game first and a sim second but I did experience oversteer/understeer when expected. I’ll put this one 3rd out of the sims I’ve tried.]

There are more sims like LiveForSpeed and netKar. Go look in insideSimRacing.tv for more info.

Hardware

Turns out there are very few good XBox-compatible driving wheels. Microsoft discontinued it’s own-brand wireless racing wheel a few years ago and if you search the internet you’ll find plenty of war stories about the device.

The Fanatec GT2 wheel has had great reviews and supports all three platforms. You pay about an £80 premium for xbox support.

I found quite a few wheel reviewers were fussy about the pedals. The only pedals that were consistently mentioned as treasured items were Fanatec’s ClubSport pedals. These pedals can even provide force feedback on the PC. Some reviewers made no bones about the fact that they’d junked the pedals that came with a wheel and were using the clubsports instead.

In the end, I decided to ignore the Xbox360 as a driving platform (for now, at least) and ordered the Fanatec GT3 RS ClubSport Edition wheel. Clubsport edition gets you the clubsport pedals at a slight discount.

Fanatec GT3 ClubSport Edition wheel

I may kick myself because the GT2 is only 80-100 pounds more than the GT3 wheel and supports XBox, PS3 and PC but my decision at the time was

  • there’s more than enough games on PC and PS3 and I don’t have much time to play games
  • the GT2 was out of stock and Fanatec has been known to take a while to replenish stock
  • Fanatec wasn’t offering a clubsport edition of the GT2 when I looked so I’d have had to pay an additional premium to get the wheel + clubsport pedals.
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