Our writer Luca has been enjoying competing in iRacing‘s new variety series. However, there are not that many people taking part in it. Here is how he would improve the iRacing Weekly Challenge.
When iRacing announced the addition of the Weekly Challenge, I was excited. This is a series where not only the track shifts every week, but also the car. I have been a firm believer in the challenge that comes with racing a variety of cars.
To my surprise, I have been rather successful at it too. In Week 1, I won the second split of the main event timeslot, and in the weeks since, finished third twice. Which is why if you open up iRacing‘s own webpage on the series, you can as of Week 3 find me fifth in the standings.
As you can tell, I am very enthusiastic about this series. But even I knew that not many people would not be participating, and so it has proven. Which is why I am making a bid to slightly change (and thereby improve) the iRacing Weekly Challenge series heading into next season.
iRacing Weekly Challenge: The Problem
I have already mentioned the ‘main event’ timeslot, some of you may not know. Essentially, you have regularly scheduled races that take place at half past the hour. But on Sunday at 8:15pm UTC there is that main event race. Which does leave many people unable to compete if they live in a time zone where it is 3:15am.
The regularly scheduled races that you run in from Tuesday act as a points builder to decide which split you are eligible for in the Sunday 8:15pm UTC race. Except I do not think enough people are aware that this particular timeslot is the all-important one. Since for the last two weeks, there has only been one split.
Fewer Timeslots per Week
Therefore I believe the Weekly Challenge should take a leaf from the books of the VRS GT Endurance Series and other series on iRacing with only a few timeslots per week. Just like what my colleague Angus said in this article, fewer races makes it feel all the more momentous.
I have been committing to the VRS GT Endurance Series races this season, and I have loved doing it. But with having only a few timeslots means there is not that much room to do practice races. Which is where the VRS GT Sprint Series satisfies that need with running regularly scheduled races throughout the week.
To really incentivise drivers to compete in the iRacing Weekly Challenge, it is essential that there is no doubt left on the table as to which is the all-important race for people to commit to. But with removing those regularly scheduled races, there is the need now for those races elsewhere so people can practice.
Mirror Existing Series
To satisfy that need for regularly scheduled races so people can practice, there is the opportunity to perhaps attract those already committed to the series of which the Weekly Challenge’s designated car that week is racing at.
Week 1 of the iRacing Weekly Challenge was GT4s at Laguna Seca, and that week the GT4 Challenge series was at Monza. Yes, Laguna Seca is a free track but if it mirrored the track used in the series, more people would have been compelled to race in it.
This is why the iRacing team need to see which road course cars and tracks are the ones that most members own. Of course they could make it very easy and just have it be like any rookie series since everyone owns all that content as standard. But many people have purchased cars and tracks already to avoid the monotony of the same ten tracks and three cars.
Maybe to get people’s foot in the door, have both the car and track for the first week be free, let’s say Mazda Cup at Okayama. Then the weeks following would be a common Class D series car like the FIA F4 on a very popular track that reflects the Formula 4 Challenge series’ track that week. Then you have people interested in coming back for the following week.
What Other Problems?
Weekly Challenge is a Class D series, and some of the cars in the series are only raced in higher classes. For example: the Dallara F317 will be the car used in Week 6, and that is a Class C-only car. So with limiting the series to just a few timeslots on Sunday, some people who do not have a Class C licence that want to do practice races in the F317 will not be able to.
With that being said, the VRS GT Endurance Series is Class C whilst the VRS GT Sprint Series is Class B. So Class C ranked drivers cannot do practice races scheduled throughout the week. So would that be as much of an issue here? Then of course, there is the big one: the cost.
To really improve the Weekly Challenge I think it should sport the greatest hits of iRacing‘s Road series. It should include the cars that pretty much all iRacers own, and same for the tracks. Looking at last season’s participation numbers, the Clio Cup and Radical series do not have high participation. Even the Skip Barber series has seemingly taken a backseat to F4.
Also worth noting, Weekly Challenge is an open setup series. It is no secret that there are always more people willing to race in a fixed setup series than an open one. So especially with a different car every week, Weekly Challenge should probably become a fixed setup series.
iRacing Weekly Challenge: in Conclusion
The Weekly Challenge is an amazing concept, but it is unfortunately true that so many people are more comfortable in just a few select cars. Even the promise of iRacing credits for a random driver in the top split is not enough.
By having only a few timeslots on Sunday so people from the Asia Pacific, Europe and Americas regions can all commit to racing at times convenient to them would drastically improve participation.
Plus by selecting only the most commonly owned cars and tracks for the most part, more and more people will be willing to compete.
The main event timeslot is today 7 January at 9:15pm CET. If you own the Skip Barber Formula 2000, the race is on Virginia International Raceway’s North course. So give it a go, I will probably see you in the race!
What car and track combinations would you like to see in the next iRacing Weekly Challenge season? Tell us on Twitter at @OverTake_gg or in the comments down below!