RaceDepartment Members Racing A Real Ginetta G40

g40.jpg
I think most of us that have done any form of racing on a console or PC have wondered if we’d be any good at the real thing. Myself and @Mbeet2000 went to find out.

We’d booked ourselves on to an experience day via Ginetta’s track day company want2race. We’d have 3 x 20 minute sessions driving the Ginetta G40 around their Blyton Park test track accompanied by an instructor.

Ginetta G40 Cup​

Engine: 1800cc | Top Speed: 125mph | Weight 840KG | Power: 135BHP

Blyton Park​

Blyton.jpg


Our day started out with the typical British thing of opening the curtains to find it’s raining, windy and cold...great. Luckily the forecast was for light rain in the morning which was due to stop before we got to Blyton and for once the forecast was right - when we arrived the rain had stopped and the track had dried out.

The only downside to the morning rain was the car was setup for the wet (so softer dampers, roll bars etc) and we would be running on the Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tyres instead of slicks.

So how does real life compare to sims? My only real comparison to go on was driving the G40 in AMS2 but that was using slick tyres so in general I was just looking to see what sim racing experience I could apply.

Braking​

Needs to be done in a straight line, and I mean STRAIGHT, initially anyway. In most sims you can still brake hard if you aren’t completely square but in the little Ginetta any hint of steering lock would have the back end dancing around on you. I’m a heavy trail braker in sims but really needed to refine my technique IRL.
This could have been helped a bit with a dry setup and slicks I suppose but I think you would still need to make sure all the hard work was done in a straight line.

For the first 2 sessions I was using heal and toe in the braking zones that required a down shift. This was great for matching the revs, keeping the weight balance stable and carrying speed BUT Katie said I needed to brake harder and more consistently. When blipping the throttle with my heal I was releasing a bit of brake pressure which means the braking zones were longer than needed. I had learnt this technique years ago when playing GT Legends but trying to apply this to a brake pedal that required A LOT of force just wasn’t working. For my 3rd session I tried out the technique Matt had been using, he was braking hard with no heal or toe and just dropped down the gears when the revs felt right. This instantly gave me more confidence on the brakes and improved my times but it did feel a bit alien to me to not rev match on the downshift and I was always waiting for the back to snap. I think with more time in the car and getting a better feel for the brakes I’d be back to heal and toeing but keeping the pressure just right.

Accelerating​

Being rear wheel drive I was expecting to be able to get on the power quickly out of the corners but this would end in the front massively pushing wide. You needed to be very gradual with the throttle after the apex to balance speed vs understeer. I’m usually very smooth on throttle application in sims but this needed extra attention and refinement in real life. Slicks and a dry setup may have helped more here but I’ll never know. I tend to feather the throttle or keep a small application of it on to balance the car but in real life this resulted in the front pushing wide. Coasting turned out to be more effective but I feared the back would brake free and didn’t put enough trust in the car to just grip.

Steering​

By now you are probably starting to spot a bit of a theme, everything I know can be applied to the real world but it needs a lot of refinement – steering inputs are the same. I’m usually smooth with my steering inputs in a sim or karting so I don’t unsettle the car. This helped out massively in the G40 as it made the weight balance more consistent. If you were sawing away at the wheel you’d have a lot of trouble in turn in and accelerating out. The only time I needed to steer quickly was when I’d enter a corner with too much speed then feel the back step out which leads me on to the other part of steering. Having the instinct to save a slide isn’t something you do without practice and the only real practice I’ve had is on sims and some karting. When I entered the second to last turn too quickly the car stepped out just at the apex and could have easily gone round on me but everything seemed to happen in slow motion and my arms and legs just went in to autopilot as I wrestled to keep the car going the right way. You can see this on my fastest lap video below around 1:08

Weight Balance​

I know if you search anywhere for real life or sim racing tips that this comes up a lot and there is a good reason it does – it's crucial. All day long I had been struggling with the 2nd to last corner and it was because I could never get the weight to centre up before smashing the brakes after the fast chicane that leads up to the corner, you can see this on my fastest lap video at 1:06. The red dot that indicates where the weight is heading is left of centre. A small shift in weight balance makes a huge difference to what the car does. You need to make sure you have it nice and square for the braking zone, progressively load it up during turn in and progressively lose the load on exit. This is all stuff I do in sims week in week out but adapting to this in real life when you are hitting the brakes at 90mph is an eye opener!

Sensory overload​

One thing we found is how difficult it is to process the extra information you are getting compared to sim racing. Generally when racing with a wheel on the PC you are getting feedback from the wheel, what you are seeing on screen and the sounds you are hearing. In the real thing you are also being assaulted by g forces. These obviously help you feel what the car is doing more than on a sim but it's something else to get used to and learn to process.

Becoming a real life racer​

Could I become a real life racing driver and use my sim experience as a base? Absolutely, look at the success that Jimmy Broadbent and James Baldwin have had but there are 3 main factors that mean I will never be able to do it:
  • Money – You need a serious amount of money or proper backing to be able to do this sort of thing. It’s probably doable in the lower categories but even then you’d be looking at bill after bill for repairs, rebuilding engines, tyres etc. Hats off to anyone that is doing it right now, your dedication is amazing!
  • The Fear Factor – On a sim you can push to the limit knowing that if you go over it and end up in a barrier you just ESC back to the pits and try again – that isn’t a thing in real life. I found that there was always a niggling feeling in the back of my head that stopped me pushing harder through fear of having an accident and getting a bill for repairs. This would be eased if I won the lottery and money wasn’t a problem but there would still always be a hesitation there and that’s because of my next point:
  • Dedication - I’m in my 30s now and have a family. Motorsport is dangerous, if it wasn’t it would be boring. However, being a family man means I can’t be out there risking a big accident or be away from my family for days as I travel up and down the country. If my kids were older and I had the money then it wouldn’t be as bad I suppose.
I have taken away from the experience a sense of relief, satisfaction and I've been humbled. For years I’ve always thought I’d missed my opportunity to be a racing driver and it bugged me but it turns out I don’t want to be one. Matt and I both agree that we massively enjoyed our day with Ginetta and it was great to see we have the core skills there to be quick but we get just as much enjoyment if not more from racing online or karting with friends that we don’t need to be out there dedicating our lives to being on track. It's also been an eye opener on just how hard it is to drive a car fast and I will never again be an armchair critic of anyone on track that seems a lot slower or at the back - reality is they are probably pushing it as hard as I ever could.

I enjoy being able to race with people from all over the world from my own home and push the car to the limit on the PC safe in the knowledge that if I have a bad race and a huge crash I won’t need to re-mortgage the house to get back out there!

My Fastest Lap​

(sorry about the audio quality, filmed using the onboard vbox system which was set to -45db audio level - useful!)

A comparison of mine and Matt's best laps​


Do you have any real life racing ambitions? Ever raced a real car on a racing circuit yourself? Let us know in the comments below.
About author
SwannyUK
I've been sim racing for around 16 years starting off with titles like Live for Speed and Rfactor then settling on GT Legends for a few years. Now I mainly race on ACC and AMS2

I won a few mini league championships over at GamersCrib (shout out to anyone who remembers that!) and was proud to win the ACCSS 24 hours of Spa 2021 with Team RD.

I run the RD ACC Club, feel free to contact me with any questions :)

Comments

Premium
Hi Swanny, sounds like you had a great day! I have been racing since 2006 Mostly in sports2000 and jaguars. i also instruct in the porsches at Thruxton.

dont fall into the trap that you think motorsport is super expensive, and inaccessible.

their are plenty of championships in the uk that you can do for under 10k, especially endurence racing like Enduro Ka and the the Citroen c1 where you can split the cost between 3 or 4 drivers.

if you want propper racing cars like Sports2000 or formula ford the cost starts from around 15k

other championships to look at are bmw and mini championships.

lists of clubs in the uk can be found on the msvr, brscc and barc websites.
 
Premium
I'm sure by the time I'd have the money and means to go racing, motorsport will be outlawed in Europe... maybe some electric gokarts somewhere indoors but not much else left.

I did run my daily on the Nordschleife once, like the smallest, lowest powered city car you could find, and the thing that mostly translated from sim to real car was weight transfer and most of all track knowledge. I knew which corner would follow which and could concentrate on my line and my rear view mirror (tho it was a slow rainy day with only very few other people on track). I only had 50 hp but managed to hang onto a 911s rear bumper till roughly Bergwerk, where the track really starts climbing again. Got the car a few degrees sideways over the crest at Hocheichen, but caught it immediately on what I'd call sim instincts :whistling:
 
Staff
Premium
Hi Swanny, sounds like you had a great day! I have been racing since 2006 Mostly in sports2000 and jaguars. i also instruct in the porsches at Thruxton.

dont fall into the trap that you think motorsport is super expensive, and inaccessible.

their are plenty of championships in the uk that you can do for under 10k, especially endurence racing like Enduro Ka and the the Citroen c1 where you can split the cost between 3 or 4 drivers.

if you want propper racing cars like Sports2000 or formula ford the cost starts from around 15k

other championships to look at are bmw and mini championships.

lists of clubs in the uk can be found on the msvr, brscc and barc websites.
Yeh, I suppose it's completely up to your personal circumstances / income. Back when I was a lot younger I had a kit car and managed 2 track days. The cost of the track day, trailer hire, car maintenance, travel etc was enough to make me re-think things. Now I've got a family even 5-10k is too much. It also doesn't help that I live in the south west where we are miles away from any proper tracks.

I'd be interested to hear If you've had anyone to instruct that hasn't had any real world experience but played Sims and if they were quicker to get up to speed etc.
 
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Staff
Premium
I'm sure by the time I'd have the money and means to go racing, motorsport will be outlawed in Europe... maybe some electric gokarts somewhere indoors but not much else left.

I did run my daily on the Nordschleife once, like the smallest, lowest powered city car you could find, and the thing that mostly translated from sim to real car was weight transfer and most of all track knowledge. I knew which corner would follow which and could concentrate on my line and my rear view mirror (tho it was a slow rainy day with only very few other people on track). I only had 50 hp but managed to hang onto a 911s rear bumper till roughly Bergwerk, where the track really starts climbing again. Got the car a few degrees sideways over the crest at Hocheichen, but caught it immediately on what I'd call sim instincts :whistling:
That sounds like a blast! I found exactly the same as you, the Sims give you a good enough feeling to transfer what you have learned to real world situations.
 
Premium
That sounds like a blast! I found exactly the same as you, the Sims give you a good enough feeling to transfer what you have learned to real world situations.
simdriving teaches you what a car does beyond the limits of normal driving, something normal car drivers just never do. Two years after I got my licence I did a ADAC driver safety course, just a short one day thing together with my brother and some two dozen other participants and I didn't really learn anything new that day, I either had been in similar driving situations in real life before, OR it was something I knew from sims.
 
I did run my daily on the Nordschleife once, like the smallest, lowest powered city car you could find, and the thing that mostly translated from sim to real car was weight transfer and most of all track knowledge.
This is something that's always struck me when I've heard real-life drivers discuss the usefulness of sim racing on consumer titles – they seem to bring up track knowledge more than anything else.

Think of Dale Earnhardt Jr. talking about iRacing, for example... I think every clip I've heard of him promoting it mentions it as fun and as a practice tool that helped him know how to drive a track (including intricacies like bumps) before he got there in real life, and thus got him 'up to speed' faster. While I'm sure it's important to him that iRacing cars don't handle like Gran Turismo 1 or Need for Speed Underground or something :roflmao: he doesn't say that the handling and driving experience is 'exactly like real life' or something (cause it isn't, and never will be in any sim, as Swanny's comments about g-forces and so on attest to). General 'up to and over the limit' driving techniques and racecraft also translate, but Dale doesn't exactly need to practice these :p – although those are tangible benefits of sims for us plebs who don't race real cars for a living.

Maybe something to bear in mind while interpreting real-life racers testimonials on behalf of sim racing products and while considering how real and sim are similar/different from each other.
 
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Great article, thank you. I am such a crappy sim racer that I will never even try doing what you did! I would probably make a complete idiot of myself or end up ruining the transmission of the car! :roflmao:

As you wrote: "The Fear Factor – On a sim you can push to the limit knowing that if you go over it and end up in a barrier you just ESC back to the pits and try again – that isn’t a thing in real life. I found that there was always a niggling feeling in the back of my head that stopped me pushing harder through fear of having an accident and getting a bill for repairs. "

To me, that's the biggest difference between sim racing and the real thing.
 
Excellent article and a really interesting read that confirms what I've always suspected about Sims and real life. :)
 
It's always entertaining to read about physic & driving method in PC racing simulator.

recall of the past when asking tips to go faster.
"Gitgud, drive smooth like X users. You also have to do that in the real thing."

I click on the footage. The player use on/off throttle control & bomb dive with the brake in all the corner.

Seeing those articles kind of confirm how much I got trolled.
 
It's always entertaining to read about physic & driving method in PC racing simulator.

recall of the past when asking tips to go faster.
"Gitgud, drive smooth like X users. You also have to do that in the real thing."

I click on the footage. The player use on/off throttle control & bomb dive with the brake in all the corner.

Seeing those articles kind of confirm how much I got trolled.
The limitations of Dave Kaemmer's tyre models back in the day have bamboozled an entire generation of sim racers...
 
Staff
Premium
Typo, sorry

Regarding Heal&Toe. I was a bit obsessed by learning it after seeing Ayrton Senna do it. But as I've never had a drivers license (though I have owned a racecar and several road legal cars (still do)), I've never had any chance of practice on a beat down car I could ruin. Then I learned that Colin McRae always used left foot braking according to himself. So even in the days of the Vauxhall Nova and Ford Sierra he used left foot braking. Then I decided to move on to try and learn how to brake, shift and go on the throttle most effectively while left foot braking.

As I said, I don't have a drivers license, so the only place I can test it is in sims. Though, with a gaming chair on wheels and G27 pedals, that's not the best tool either.
So then I spend some of my hard earned money here:

In 2019 I did a couple of hours there with an FWD car with not much power, specifically to practice the shifting, braking etc. It seemed like it worked, as I was a lot more confident when doing a 6hr race IRL in 2019, compared to 2018.

The 2018 - thread on "How good is simracing to prepare for real racing" is here: https://www.racedepartment.com/thre...-for-real-racing-6hrs-at-mantorp-park.161139/

And the 2019 - "Sim-racing to real racing Part 2" is here (with some car-build videos): https://www.racedepartment.com/thre...-park-9th-november-2019-nordic-meetup.173623/

I find it interesting how much knowledge from sim-racing is possible to transfer to reality, when I did some RX, all my knowledge of how cars behaves on gravel was from Richard Burns Rally, that was good enough that I got into the finals in my second ever event, and the A-final in my third ever event.
Almost 10 years later I did a "comeback" RX-event, and got a couple of heat wins, I managed to qualify for finals even when I had to skip one qualifying round. All my knowledge were still from rally games.
Granted, I do have the advantage that I did karting for 8 years as a kid, with, at times enough success to be on the front page of the national motorsport newspaper back then. So it's not like I have no experience what so ever in racing situations. Still, with the except of a bit of driving on the road as a learner. I have not driven cars outside racing, and all my practice and knowledge are taken directly from sim-racing. It's fascinating.
 
Hi Swanny, sounds like you had a great day! I have been racing since 2006 Mostly in sports2000 and jaguars. i also instruct in the porsches at Thruxton.

dont fall into the trap that you think motorsport is super expensive, and inaccessible.

their are plenty of championships in the uk that you can do for under 10k, especially endurence racing like Enduro Ka and the the Citroen c1 where you can split the cost between 3 or 4 drivers.

if you want propper racing cars like Sports2000 or formula ford the cost starts from around 15k

other championships to look at are bmw and mini championships.

lists of clubs in the uk can be found on the msvr, brscc and barc websites.
Under 10k (say 700 a month) is still an amount of money most people can't miss while having a family and monthly growing expenses.
 

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