The IMSA Sports Car Championship is gaining popularity recently thanks to the renewed interest in the GTP class. Here are the top racing games to simulate IMSA competition in 2023.
Much like the FIA World Endurance Championship and Le Mans 24 Hours, the IMSA Sports Car Championship is rapidly gaining popularity. Indeed, the new GTP class is attracting many new fans to the sport which regularly features close racing and intense action.
For many, sim racing is all about pretending to be involved in the action we watch on TV. For that reason, it can be fun to replicate real racing series in our favourite sim racing titles. But which racing games are the best for simulating IMSA events? Here is our top 5 list.
As aforementioned, one of the main reasons the North American sports car series is experiencing such a boom in popularity is the new top class. In collaboration with the FIA WEC, IMSA introduced the GTP class this year welcoming LMDh prototypes to the series. LMH models are also welcome, though no manufacturer has made the jump quite yet.
Therefore, a big part of any game looking to recreate IMSA racing in 2023 is that it must feature some GTP runners. Well, it is good news for Xbox racers as Forza Motorsport is less than a month away. Those with a keen motorsport eye will notice that one of the two cover cars for the upcoming release is the Cadillac V-Series.R.
This LMDh prototype with its V8 will burble into the game at launch making it an excellent candidate as an IMSA simulator. Indeed, other classes such as GT3 cars and even LMP2 models will feature in the game down the line.
As for tracks, it’s also fairly positive news for console racers. In fact, headlining circuits like Road America, Daytona and Watkins Glen will feature at launch. Lime Rock and Mid-Ohio are outgoing circuits from the real world series whilst VIR, Indianapolis and Laguna Seca are also on this year’s calendar. Unfortunately, other Michelin Endurance Cup locations Sebring and Road Atlanta are circuits dropped between Forza Motorsport 7 and this new release.
Overall, Forza Motorsport is less accurate than other games on this list for recreating exact grids from this year’s IMSA racing. But it is sure to provide console fans with hours of endurance racing fun.
Whilst the new top class is exciting, IMSA racing games don’t have to focus on its current form. Automobilista 2 is a game that features cars and tracks from a wide range of eras in history.
The title’s Group C list is certainly impressive, as is its GT1 selection allowing for a taste of ALMS days. But what is particularly fun is the game’s ability to simulate the previous era of IMSA racing. Before GTP, the championship featured three main classes; DPi, GTLM and GTD. Mixing the top class of prototypes and LMP2 cars made for great battles whilst the interaction between GTE and GT3 cars was hectic.
With the Cadillac DPi among its roster as well as several GT3 cars and a full grid of GTE racers, AMS 2 is a fabulous racing game to recount this IMSA era.
Furthermore, the Brazilian-developed title features several North American tracks. Daytona, Watkins Glen, VIR and Indianapolis may be the common quartet in sim racing titles. But they form a great mix of high speed roval course and natural circuits.
Adding to Automobilista 2‘s brilliant IMSA simulation value is the immersion it provides. Graphically, it is a stunning game with brilliant lighting. But with a track that changes based on the race date set in-game and weather that perfectly replicates historical forecasts, one can replicate races to a tee. There is great value in recreating exact racing scenarios even down to the weather.
In past announcements, Reiza has said that it is set to release more cars from both the history and present era of Le Mans racing. With LMDh in prospect, this can only help AMS 2 become an even greater IMSA simulator.
From a racing game that can simulate IMSA competition out of the box to a title relying solely on third party content in 2023: Assetto Corsa is certainly among the most popular sim racing games on the market, no doubt thanks to its modding capabilities.
In fact, third party additions turn this decade-old game into a modern king. Seemingly every car and track one could ever ask for is available for this game. In fact, those who search hard enough in places like the Racedepartment download section will find every car model that competes in this year’s IMSA championship.
Better yet, Assetto Corsa skins have become near-infinite, meaning not only does each 2023 team have their livery in-game, but also has the details of race-specific decals, individual driver suits and helmets and even interior stickers that can all be implemented for the perfect recreation. The same is true for circuits. Each and every 2023 IMSA track is available in some form for AC, and it is also possible to make them look as they did on race day.
You may be wondering why Assetto Corsa doesn’t feature higher on this list. The simple reason is that, being such an old game, it takes a lot of effort to recreate series. From trawling through the internet to find cars, tracks and liveries to balancing each different vehicle to make competitive racing, many hours will go into replicating IMSA racing in Assetto Corsa. After all that, it may not be worth it with poor AI and several limitations.
Whilst Assetto Corsa is certainly the king of third party content, rFactor 2 doesn’t do too badly itself. In fact, there are many circuits and cars to download for the game, each created with love. But the Motorsport Games title also features a number of first party cars and tracks that come very close to filling the IMSA line-up.
A GT3 pack includes a whopping 15 different cars whilst LMP2 and LMP3 cars are abundant. However, the one downfall to this simulator on the car front is its lack of first party LMDh racers. Instead, one must resort to the previous generation of top class, DPi. Much like Automobilista 2, the Cadillac DPi prototype is part of Studio 397’s official car list. But with the title being so open to mods, one is sure to find something with a GTP flavour.
Again, many of the IMSA circuits feature in rFactor 2 thanks to the game’s links with the WEC. Sebring, Daytona, Laguna Seca, Indy and many more are available to race. Furthermore, there are third party creations for pretty much any circuit in the world. The downside however is that they will obviously range in quality.
With Le Mans Ultimate just beyond the horizon, Motorsport Games and Studio 397 have been working hard to develop competent multiclass AI and rF2 is the beneficiary. Indeed, development is being made on the simulator allowing racers an early taste of what the new game will be like. Positively, the AI copes very well in long-form environments in which traffic management is key.
The full car list is not present in the game’s base form. However, the fabulous AI and possibility for mods to complete the car list as well as include every livery from the series makes rFactor 2 a very viable IMSA title.
As one would expect, the best racing game for simulating IMSA events is iRacing. This is a title that holds a licence with the series. Ever since the 2020 pandemic, there has been a close tie between the two companies that has only grown stronger since the addition of this new top class.
Before the 2023 season even got under way, the online racing simulator gained its first LMDh model. The BMW M Hybrid V8 joined the sim late last year, but it was soon followed by its Dallara-based stablemate, the Cadillac V-Series.R. This most recent 2023 Season 4 content drop also gave us the Porsche 963 and Acura ARX-06.
This, along with the inclusion of a plethora of GT3 cars, the Dallara LMP2 model and Ligier LMP3 means a full IMSA grid is possible in iRacing. In fact, scroll through Trading Paints and you will already spot full AI rosters of IMSA cars.
Once more, iRacing is one of the few titles on the market today to feature the entire IMSA calendar as first-party content. From the smaller venues like VIR and Lime Rock to the headlining shows of Daytona and Road Atlanta, every stop is indeed present, all matching the same level of quality. An online league or offline championship following the calendar is certainly possible.
Speaking of offline capabilities, iRacing arguably features some of the best AI for multiclass racing. Ironically, the sim known for online racing has developed an algorithm that perfectly allows fans to have great fun racing by themselves. From pure racecraft to traffis management and even strategy, this AI does it all. If you want the best IMSA sim racing experience, go to iRacing.
Which racing series do you like to recreate most in sim racing? Tell us on Twitter at @OverTake_gg or in the comments down below!