Ever since its introduction in the early days of iRacing, the Skip Barber has remained popular, but many still wonder how to drive it. Here is your all-encompassing guide to racing the Skip Barber Formula 2000 in iRacing.
Image Credit: iRacing.com
If there’s one fact that will always be true in the world of simracing, it’s that the Skip Barber series will never stop delivering excellent races. A simple open-wheeler with a low-power engine and old-school radial tyres, it may sound like a boring proposition. But it’s thanks to this low-tech approach that the on-track battles are so good.
With great race-long fights and constantly changing positions, the Skip Barber series often attracts large numbers of participants. However, despite its seemingly simple creation, the Formula 2000 isn’t the easiest vehicle to handle on the service. If like many you’re looking to gain time in this hyper-competitive field, here is how to drive the Skip Barber in iRacing.
All in the Gears
Driving the Skip Barber Formula 2000 car may be easy in itself, but driving it fast is a whole other matter. iRacers will often find themselves struggling to make up the final second or two versus their competitors.
Whilst the easy route to find more speed is through setup tweaks and optimised racing lines, the Skip Barber hides a lot of pace within its gearbox. Both on upshifts and downshifts, this model is a particular vehicle on the iRacing service.
The easiest fix for more speed on the straights is by removing the Auto-blip assist. Whilst iRacing allows novice racers to use assists such as help on the brakes and with the clutch, these aids are designed to hinder. On acceleration, upshifts using the auto-blip assist will take longer than if blipping is ensured by the driver themselves. Either lift off the throttle or tap the clutch as you shift up and you’ll immediately see your delta turn green.
Jumping on the brakes and diving down the gears is a more difficult fix. The majority of cars in simracing like to downshift later on in a braking phase to maximise engine braking. But the Skippy gets unstable when firing down the gears. So to keep the car in the right direction and avoid losing unnecessary speed, it’s best to down shift nice and early. Unless the engine is high in the rev range, you shouldn’t need to blip the throttle on downshifts. But if a gear won’t go in, do try a quick tap of the gas.
Slow and Steady Wins the Skip Barber Race
The Skip Barber is a great car for teaching up and coming drivers about smooth inputs and momentum. With its low power engine, small, spindly road tyres and lack of downforce, handling this racer is all about being smooth and not over-pushing. Step out of line and you will predictably kill your momentum, losing time through the following straight and sequence of bends.
Before even stepping behind the wheel, remember to take a deep breath and relax. It’s important to not tense up when driving this open wheeler, instead finding the flow of things. This will help you drive the car in a smooth yet fast way.
In slow corners, get on the brakes nice and early and try not to apply too much brake pressure. Slow down gently before even thinking of turning in. As you start to rotate the steering wheel, lift your feet off the pedals and coast into the turn, all whilst maintaining as high a minimum speed as possible. Coasting will prevent the front end from lifting up causing understeer. Once you’re happy you can make it through the turn, gently apply the gas and accelerate out of the turn. Do not however stab the throttle repeatedly, a delicate application will be fastest.
In faster turns, modulating the throttle should help to rotate the car. Slightly reducing the gas will put more weight up-front helping to create a pendulum effect centred on the front axle. But don’t over-do it unless you want to end up off the track.
A Guide to Skip Barber Racecraft
As aforementioned, the Skip Barber series on iRacing produces some titanic on-track battles. In fact, the Formula 2000 features front and rear wings which seem to have the single purpose of creating drag. As a result, the so-called Skippies create a large draft behind them allowing following cars to stay close.
With the leader seemingly giving their competitors behind a free lift, it’s very difficult to create any sizeable gap. Pack racing is very much the best description for these little open wheelers.
It can be tempting to make the most of the slipstream and move up into first place. But it’s rarely the best place to be. In the Skip Barber series, the best race craft strategy to adopt is to hold position. Avoid battling with cars around you, unless you can complete a move before getting to a corner. As we’ve seen, it’s vital to maintain momentum, and so going side-by-side through corners will only give the cars ahead a time advantage. Once you lose the toe, it’s hard to catch back up.
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