Esports have become very serious in recent times and we seem to be missing the initial idea of simracing. This hobby is all about throwing oneself behind the wheel of a racecar and feeling like a true racing driver. That is exactly what the Sim Rally Masters league is all about.
Image credit: David Baez on the SRM Discord
It’s no secret that the world of simracing esports has become very serious and extremely controversial in recent months. Le Mans Virtual and its server connectivity issues, the iRacing Daytona 24 had its top split shenanigans, it seems each new event gives social media another reason to explode into exhausting tribal debates.
To escape a world where members of a unified community run at each other with pitchforks, it’s time to use simracing as it was originally intended. To me, this wonderful hobby is all about throwing yourself behind the wheel of a car and feeling immersed. The whole point of driving virtual cars is to feel like a real life racing driver, a hero, a driving god.
What’s so special about SRM?
That is the ethos shared with the team behind Sim Rally Masters. One of the biggest leagues in the Richard Burns Rally community, it has recently exploded in popularity, presumably for the reason listed above. The team organising this event does everything possible to make its competitors feel immersed in the rally world. Yes, the over 600 entrants are out to win their respective classes, but it’s really all about enjoying simracing.
This believable immersion comes both from the in-game experience and the organisation around the league. In-game, the league runs realistic damage meaning drivers are focusing on survival more so than setting the fastest time on each stage. Just like in the real world, pace notes are communicated via audio only thanks to the co-driver. You can’t look at different calls through their graphic interpretation here. Finally, as per all RBR rallies, drivers only get one shot at a rally. If you crash out on stage 1 with 20 more to go, you’re coming home with little to no points.
From an organisational point of view, the team has put together several documents before the upcoming first rally of the season to help immerse competitors further. A full roadbook along with an interactive map placing the various stages throughout Ireland make drivers feel as though they’re setting out on an epic voyage. Despite being a rally where no-one will see other players’ cars in-game, a full spotter’s guide will release soon. This will include liveries, team names, nationalities and car numbers.
Having competed in a fair few leagues up until now, I have never witnessed such amazing attention to detail in a series’ organisation before. And although these features doesn’t affect the competition, they certainly help racers stay interested in the championship.
A year-long rally championship
Unlike many leagues that take place over a month or two, SRM will see racers compete over the entire calendar year. During this time, seven long rallies will keep drivers entertained featuring some of the highest quality stages in Richard Burns Rally. With each rally approaching the 300-kilometre mark, racers have two weeks to complete each event. Though with just two legs per rally, drivers must go at least 150km before taking a much-needed rest.
The championship kicks off with the Circuit of Ireland this week. The route has been plotted on the interactive map. Shakedown has been completed. It is soon time for the competition to begin. After Ireland, drivers compete in an international rally putting together a selection of different stages. Then we go to Romania in Winter, Catalunya, Yukon in Canada, we’ll compete in the virtual Tulip Rally in Holland and finish off with the 1000 Lakes Rally in Finland.
What truly sets Sim Rally Masters apart from other championships is its focus on classic machinery. Yes, Richard Burns Rally features countless modern rally cars, but this championship contents itself with running a selection of older vehicles. Cars from legendary classes like Group B, Group A, Group 4 and Group 2 are all eligible for entry. Although these are slower than the R1 cars of today, they are plenty fast enough to cause problems on narrow stages.
Biggest names in 2023 Sim Rally Masters
Last year’s Sim Rally Masters championship saw Jake Desmarais of GP Laps fame take part. Streaming his adventures as he improved as a rally driver throughout the year, he certainly attracted other familiar faces.
This year, Jake continues to take part in this laid back competition. By his side will be Aidan Milward as he gets to grips with the near-20-year-old title that is RBR. Furthermore, it seems Jimmy Broadbent will also be among this year’s competitors as he looks to enjoy his racing a little more this year.
These three well-known names alongside over 600 other competitors, Sim Rally Masters has certainly amassed a large field for 2023. It seems that while the majority of the simracing community goes to war over track limit issues, a group is forming around a more relaxed approach to simracing. Yes, the aim in any competition is to win, but SRM shows simracing can still be about immersion.
If you want to join in on the fun, the organising team will surely welcome you with open arms. In fact, this could be the perfect way to wait out the release of EA’s next WRC game. Simply join their Discord channel to find all the information you need to compete in this year’s championship.
Will you be following or competing in Sim Rally Masters this year? Tell us on Twitter at @OverTake_gg or in the comments down below!