KW Studios Dev Thomas Jansen testing the new RaceRoom tire model with driver Tim Heinemann at the SimRacing Expo 2023.

RaceRoom: New Tires Are “More Detailed and Progressive”

RaceRoom’s highly anticipated update featuring the new tire model is set for release on Steam on December 18. We spoke to the responsible KW Studios dev Thomas Jansen about the improvements, as well as the special challenges and further potential regarding tire model development.

RaceRoom's new tires are much more detailed, while also feeling more progressive and nuanced.
RaceRoom’s new tire model V5 is said to put tire behavior in the sim to a new level. Image Credit: KW Studios

OverTake: When did you join KW and what do you do there?

Thomas Jansen: I’ve been a Physics Developer at KW Studios since 2019. I have a University Bachelor degree in Electrical Engineering. I also followed many courses on Mechanical Engineering, including some on Vehicle Dynamics and Vehicle Control Systems …

OverTake: … and as a die-hard sim racer that directly led you into game development?

Thomas Jansen: No, not exactly. I’ve always been into cars and racing games, but I only got into proper simracing in 2017. I was often racing with some YouTuber communities, such as GamerMuscle and Jardier. It was GamerMuscle who actually introduced me to RaceRoom, where I then started to organise my own league races with some friends. This eventually led me to become a beta tester for RaceRoom in 2018, where I did a lot of BoP work, as I had become a decently fast simracer at this point. The combination of my engineering background and experience as a ‘normal’ simracer made me a really good fit to start working as a physics developer for KW Studios, alongside Alex Hodgkinson.

RaceRoom's New Tires. KW developer Thomas Jansen (left) discussing the new tire model at the SimRacing Expo 2023  with Tim Heinemann.
KW developer Thomas Jansen (left) discussing the new tire model at the SimRacing Expo 2023 with Tim Heinemann. Image Credit: KW Studios

OverTake: How do you and Alex divide up the work exactly?

Thomas Jansen: Alex and me have made a good team over the years, as Alex is mostly responsible for the bigger picture, making sure the cars work as a whole. Which allows me to take the time to dive deeper into specific parts of a car or our physics engine to see what’s missing or can be improved. The big FFB rework in 2021 was a perfect example of this, and now the incoming tire update has been another one of the big projects coming out of this collaboration.

OverTake: How would you summarize RaceRoom’s new tire model in one sentence?

Thomas Jansen: RaceRoom’s new tires are much more detailed, while also feeling more progressive and nuanced.

OverTake: How did you proceed with other tire types and forms – narrower, older, slicks? Are these theoretical derivations of the new model or do you have real data for these as well?

Thomas Jansen: We have data on a good variety of tires, from which we can extrapolate the features and behaviour that any tire in our huge selection of cars should have. From there, it is making sure that these extrapolations make sense in terms of car behaviour. We can do this in many ways, such as comparing to onboards, telemetry data and lap times, real driver comments and feedback.

Practice makes perfect: little Thomas Jansen “testing” a 2000s Ford Mondeo’s tires. Image credit: Thomas Jansen

OverTake: How does developing a tire model work?

Thomas Jansen: Tire behaviour in a simulation can be just as mysterious as real tire behaviour as there are so many things happening and interacting with each other. So the first step was to fully deconstruct our tire model, making sure we know how every part of it works and behaves. We could then analyse it by outputting any type of tire testing graph you might find in real tire data, allowing us to uncover and tweak the missing pieces in our model.

The new tires are much more detailed, while also feeling more progressive and nuanced.

Thomas Jansen, Developer at KW Studios

OverTake: What needed to be considered in interaction with the other simulated aspects such as FFB, suspension, brakes?

Thomas Jansen: As the Force Feedback is really just a translation of what the tires are doing, the feeling of the cars in the steering wheel instantly improved with the new tires. However, setup changes were often needed to adjust to the new balance due to the tire changes. It was nice to see that this brought our car setups closer to what we would expect in real cars.

RaceRoom's new tires can be immediately felt in the FR2 series.
The Formula RaceRoom 2 is Thomas’ recommendation for testing the new tires in RR. Image Credit: KW Studios

OverTake: Which car would you most of all recommend for testing the new tire model?

Thomas Jansen: A personal favourite of mine is the Formula RaceRoom 2. It’s high downforce, while also being small and light. The agility and directness that this gives really brings out everything the new tyres have to offer. As a bonus, the new stronger brakes make every braking zone a delicate balance between braking those few meters later or locking up. That all makes it one of the most exciting and rewarding cars to drive for me.

OverTake: As we all know, development never ends, and V5 is followed by V6. Where do you still see potential for optimization in the tire model?

Thomas Jansen With our V5 tire model, we not only improved the driving side, but also our workflow when it comes to making changes to the tires. So we will be able to finetune them more easily going forward. A bigger feature we can hopefully start working on is to update our behaviour around tire temperatures. This is often one of the most important aspects in real life racing. Luckily, with our ties to KW Automotive, we have contacts such as Falken Tyres. This allows us to work together directly with engineers working on real tires, so we can make sure our changes are as close to reality as possible.

Find more about RaceRoom in our Games section or take a look at these articles:

What do you think of this interview and RaceRoom‘s new tire model? Let us know on X (Twitter) @OverTake_gg or leave a comment down below!

Cars, motorsports and racing games addict since 1974, I am constantly hunting for perfect authenticity and deepest immersion from the safety of my sim rig.