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In a recent blog post, iRacing president Tony Gardner detailed improvements coming soon to Dirt and announced Misano and Mugello for the sim.
Image credit: Redbull Content Pool
An online service now for over a decade, iRacing is an ever-evolving service. Elements of the simulator are constantly receiving work and the developers are usually very open when talking about their current projects.
Yesterday, iRacing president Tony Gardner released a blog post mentioning different aspects of the game that the team is focusing on for Season 2 of 2023. The iRacing top dog also mentioned a pair of tracks coming soon, and he also touched upon the team’s progress with rain. Here are the highlights of what fans can expect in the simulator in the coming updates.
Dirt Overhaul Coming Soon
The main purpose of Gardner’s update was to go over some planned improvements to dirt oval racing on iRacing. Most changes seem to tackle the current lack of variation between sessions and during races. In fact, real world dirt ovals change drastically due to how the surface is prepared.
First, the overhaul will make for a more humid track surface. This should result in a larger difference between a fresh track and an end-of-race used surface. This will tie in with the team’s attempts to make tyres sink in to the surface more, giving a more stable feel.
Next up are a selection of random variables that will make each race different to the last. Based on how the track surface is theoretically prepared before each session, it could be slick and smooth or feature bumps throughout.
Track preparation involves driving a truck round the track pumping water from a large tank. This firms up the surface and gives more grip. But, in the real world, water follows gravity and will run to the bottom, on the inside of the turns. Thanks to changes in track variation, this will also happen in iRacing following the next update.
All these changes are set to feature in the next iRacing update, scheduled for mid June. The team is also reportedly working on AI for dirt oval racing. This will be a huge addition, especially given the inconsistent participation in races throughout the day. Whilst exciting, this isn’t planned for release at the same time as the dirt oval refresh.
Misano and Mugello Coming to iRacing
The bulk of this blog post focused on the major updates coming to dirt racing, specifically dirt oval, but several other items will catch sim racers’ eyes. Among these was the mention of two new tracks preparing to join the sim.
It seems iRacing is on an Italian road trip, as the team is currently working on Misano and Mugello. Both tracks are featuring more and more in sim racing thanks to MotoGP putting the pair on the international map.
Misano is a relatively flat circuit in comparison to the Mugello venue; but that doesn’t mean it’s a boring layout. Assetto Corsa Competizione fans will attest to this track’s excellent racing with several challenging corner complexes. It is all about tightening radius turns and keeping within track limits, something easier said than done.
Mugello is surely most famous nowadays for hosting the 2020 Tuscan Grand Prix during a Covid-affected season. However, GT and bike racers will be much more familiar with the circuit. Its high-speed turns and undulating layout makes for a picturesque location for racing.
Finally, Gardner finished off his community post by mentioning the highly anticipated rain feature bound for the sim. The news concerning rain and the overall new weather system is that there is no news. “We are also making significant progress on our new weather system along with rain,” said the game’s president. The team is still “hoping to release these features later this year.”
Whilst later this year could in theory mean the upcoming Season 2 update scheduled for June, the team has previously stated that it doesn’t believe the revolutionary feature will be ready by then.
I know most iRacers won’t be quite as excited as I am. But improvements to Dirt, and more importantly Dirt Oval racing peak my interest. Sliding side-by-side in uncontrollable V8 muscle cars is brilliant fun and greater variation in conditions between sessions can only help that.
Hopefully, the next season will see more participation in dirt oval ranks giving me someone to race against. In the off chance that doesn’t happen, AI implementation for the niche racing style is something I will be spending a lot of time with. It’s great to see iRacing push its single player functionalities despite being known as the go-to online simulator.
More European tracks will be a popular addition to the game. But I have to say that Mugello and Misano aren’t typically the best circuits for car racing. It will be interesting to see if races are fun when the tracks release or if iRacers quickly lose interest.
Which of these announcements get you excited? Tell us on Twitter at @OverTake_gg or in the comments down below!