Every once in a while, you come across a mod that is so clearly full of love and passion. These are most often the best pieces of content in simracing. That is most definitely true for this detailed recreation of the Targa Florio in Assetto Corsa.
Image Credit: Kunos Simulazione
In an article last month, we named Automobilista 2 as the go-to sim for historic content. That is certainly the case when it comes to tracks and vehicles included in the game from the get-to. Though, when one adds third party mods into the equation, there’s a strong argument to be made for Assetto Corsa.
Once in a while, you’ll come across a mod so impressive that you just can’t stop using it. That is what happened to me a few weeks ago after stumbling across Abulzz’s recreation of the Targa Florio. Built from scratch, this 73-kilometre rendition of the infamous event has to be one of the single best pieces of historic content anywhere in simracing.
Some Targa Florio history
Before moving on to the Targa Florio circuit found in Assetto Corsa, it’s worth understanding what it actually was in the real world.
The Targa Florio was a road racing event based on the roads of Sicily. It existed for over 70 years between 1906 and 1977. Throughout its life, the circuit layout changed drastically. At its longest, the track was 1,080km long in the late forties, whereas the shortest Piccolo layout was ‘just’ 72km. That’s still three and a half Nurburgrings.
This Piccolo circuit was the final iteration of the track to be used in competition. Ultimately, safety concerns in the late seventies put an end to the race. It seems racing Group 6 prototypes on a winding road only just large enough for two cars was too much for the Health and Safety police.
Much like many road races of the time, the Targa Florio wasn’t a race as we’d think of one today. It resembled a time trial, akin to the Mille Miglia and Isle of Man TT. Cars would start 15 seconds apart and run against the clock. The winning car would be the crew that completed the set distance in the shortest time. Despite not lining up on a traditional grid, cars would still catch one another and have to pass. This lead to some challenging moments on these narrow, twisting Sicilian country lanes.
Etched into racing legend, the Targa Florio is an event that is now confined to history in the real world. Due to the immense danger of tackling mountain roads in monstrous race cars better suited to the open sections of Le Mans, it was ended after the 1977 edition.
The Targa Florio in Assetto Corsa is an Amazing Achievement
The race may have disappeared from the real world, bar a classic rally paying respects to the event. But, this is where the virtual world has a unique benefit. Patreon user Abulzz has created a full recreation of the Targa Florio in Assetto Corsa. Not only does this mod recreate a lost event, it is also of amazing quality, surely surpassing much of Assetto Corsa‘s base game content.
In the past, simracing has featured many versions of the Targa Florio circuit. Though whether it be the version found in rFactor 2, the previous track seen in Assetto Corsa, or even the older GTR2 mods. All previous recreations of the track stem from the one originally made for GP Legends. This mod recreating the 1967 running of the event was limited by the original game’s engine. As such, all subsequent versions suffered from its downfall.
This new version though was built from scratch. Abulzz put together every stone on the road, making it an even more impressive achievement. The texture quality throughout the 72km of this track looks excellent, and it feels brilliant through the wheel too. There are no odd lumps and bumps that shouldn’t be there. It all feels real and immersive. You can easily imagine yourself competing against Herbert Muller for the 1973 Targa Florio win.
Yes, that’s correct, this mod sets itself apart from previous Targa renditions not just through its quality. It also represents a different era of the race with a slightly more modernised landscape. Players will notice a large motorway bridge in parts of the track that aren’t there in 1960s runnings of the race. That is if you can get that far into this long track.
A Mod with Lots of Features
A track this long comes with its own challenges. At 72 kilometres long, the real life circuit travels across fields, up and down mountains and through densely packed towns. As such, the creator must spend a lot of time building all these environments in order for the mod to be truly immersive.
This particular mod features all the locations one would expect from a Targa Florio recreation, in impressive detail. The towns are extremely accurate and do a great job of putting the player in the midst of a historic racing event. Even down to the last poster, shop sign and hay bail. This mod truly is a time machine.
Aside from the intricate track model, it can also be difficult to record a decent AI line for a track this long. To make working AI, one must record a clean lap at speed without taking a break. That certainly seems impossible with a circuit this long. But somehow, Abulzz managed to set the AI up near-perfectly. Players can regularly have intense fights with other drivers offline making for a fun race.
Not only is it difficult for the creator to build such a large world, it’s tricky for the player to simply learn such a track. The Piccolo Targa Florio course in particular has around 900 corners for drivers to learn. So, very rarely will you get to the end of the track intact. With this in mind, Abulzz has broken the track down into four quarters. Each quarter, laid out as a point-to-point sprint, features AI and allows drivers to learn smaller sections of the track. However, each of these are still in excess of 15km long.
Although this is currently a paid mod available on Abulzz’s Patreon page, it is possible to get access to a free version. Earlier in the track’s development, the developer posted their creation as a pre-alpha build to Racedepartment. As such, a version without built up areas or large trees is available to everyone. Though costing just €1.50 a month for access to the Patreon page, it is certainly worth the money.
Which old and forgotten circuit would you like to see added to Assetto Corsa? Let us know by sending a tweet @OverTake_gg or leave a comment down below!