After recently starting out in PC sim racing, OverTake editor Luca has continued his ventures into racing sims whilst also competing in his familiar hunting ground Gran Turismo 7 for United Sim Team.
Image credit: Polyphony Digital
Hello, I’m Luca and thank you for taking an interest in my sim racing journey. I am an esports racing enthusiast and hobby sim racer who only just got involved directly in PC sim racing, having been firmly entrenched within the world of PlayStation racing games for the past few years.
Thanks to an esports outfit called United Sim Team, I have the opportunity to compete in two sets of events. Indeed, I even played a part in them becoming a reality. The events in question are the multi-platform Esports Racing League and the 24 hour sprint INFINITY, both organised by VCO.
If you want to know more about the uphill task I’m facing, read my previous instalment here.
I have been getting up to speed on iRacing which I will touch upon today, as well as the other two sims I’m focusing on. But the first organised championship I raced in for United Sim Team took place on Gran Turismo 7.
Nearly a Win
After formally joining UST, team manager Sophie came to me saying they were in desperate need of a driver for a Gran Turismo 7 competition. I agreed to participate since nobody was so eager to do it, and I joined a community called RaceAsylum.
The championship they organised is called Team Tourers, it features ten teams of three drivers each split across two lobbies at random. Drivers compete in Gr.4 cars, and all of the team’s drivers have to race the same configuration of car. For example, it could be front-engine front-wheel drive or mid-engine rear-wheel drive. UST were racing with front-engine rear-wheel drive cars, so I went with the Aston Martin Vantage.
Rounds consist of two races on a circuit with a shorter and longer version. The first race is a 15 minute sprint race with no tyre wear or fuel depletion on the shorter track, with the result fully inverted for the second race on the longer track. This second race is a 50 minute feature race with 4x tyre and fuel usage, and also a minimum of five laps ran on medium tyres.
On debut, I did okay considering I messed up my preparation. But in my second outing, my teammates and I had prepared extensively as it was to be a wet race. Therefore, we could simulate when to change tyres, and boy did it work out well.
For that race, I had started third from last due to finishing third in the sprint. It rained from the start. When it began drying, I aced my switch to softs and knew I had to make one more stop. So I was pushing! I led by over 20 seconds, and not to get ahead of myself but I was thinking I could win.
When I pitted again, I had a few drivers ahead of me but, as far as I was concerned, they all needed to stop. One by one, they came into the pits. However, one stayed out. With every lap I was thinking, “how are they doing this?”. So, I tried to make inroads on them but sadly, I ran out of laps and got P2.
I found out the one who won had been lifting and coasting in the slipstream of a teammate, and also running in a lower fuel mix during the wet weather portion of the race. I won’t lie, I was gutted, but I knew they had done a masterful job and deserved the win. That was the peak of the season, and we ended up fifth at season’s end despite our musical chair rotation of drivers.
Even though I had enjoyed my time competing on GT7, I knew I wouldn’t choose to go back unless UST needed a driver last minute for a team-based competition. This was because I wanted to focus on the three sims that the Esports Racing League would be taking place on, and I made my first forays into all three.
The one I found to be the most challenging, but also the most rewarding, was iRacing.
My Promising iRacing Debut
My debut on iRacing (if you don’t count when I raced in the onsite Apex Sim Centre event) was a Mazda MX-5 race around Okayama. I had already tried out a few cars and tracks, even some that weren’t free from the start, and I was finding iRacing very tricky to handle.
I had taken the advice of drivers I have interviewed like Enzo Bonito and Jamie Fluke with regards to how you are supposed to drive on iRacing. Namely, to be gentle. Even so, I struggled with braking and I still have quite the tendency to lock the rears and spin the car around.
To my utter shock, in my first ever iRacing qualifying, I stuck it on pole by a significant margin. I could only assume everyone else made bigger mistakes on their laps due to the gap. In the race, I immediately managed to form a rather healthy lead. I was in utter disbelief, surely this is too good to be true, right?
Remember what I said about my difficulty adjusting to the brakes? The issue reared its ugly head and I spun at the hairpin. I dropped down the order, but there were still 12 laps to go. So, I set off trying to get as high a finishing position as possible.
I had another half spin which didn’t help, but I soldiered on. Then, heading onto the last lap, I was fourth and only a few seconds away from being on the podium! I dug deep and closed the gap, but the driver ahead of me was holding a defensive line.
But on the run towards the penultimate corner, I got the overlap on my opponent and pulled alongside. I made the move and got into a podium finishing position at the line, and a part of me was delighted. Nevertheless, the fact I had such an advantage in qualifying and a big lead, I was disappointed as well because everyone only ever gets one first race, and I could very well have won mine.
Good to be Disappointed
I had won races when I raced on Gran Turismo Sport and I came close to winning one on the F1 game. But, when it came to competing on iRacing, rFactor 2 and Assetto Corsa Competizione, if anyone had told me I would have claimed podium finishes in online multiplayer races on any of those platforms first time out, I would never have believed them.
But, to be in a race winning position and to have come away disappointed, shows that I firmly believe I can win races already. I would have laughed if someone told me I would have been close to winning races so early on, and my confidence is growing. If I can keep developing at this rate, perhaps I won’t be a mobile chicane in any of the events I intend to take part in.
What was your most memorable first race on any platform? Tell us on Twitter at @OverTake_gg or in the comments down below!