The iRacers Lament
If you visit reddit.com/iRacing often enough you will see regurgitation of the same post again and again be it driving standards, protests or how to progress. In this post I’m bringing together some of my posts and comments as a point of reference for me and any other racers who may stumble upon this.
I’m not putting myself out there as a good racer. I’m a competent and experienced driver in real life but on the race track I’m striving towards adequate! I started sim-racing during lockdown and have been on iRacing since May 2022
Why is this series so dirty and are there cleaner series?
I’ll start by being honest and tell you that you are going to see the same problems in all licences and splits. Some series are better or worse than others (see iRacing Reports for details) but if you like open seater like F4/3 you are in for a rollercoaster ride. Free cars and tracks attract the worst because drivers who have invested less in the game naturally congregate here.
When should I race?
Some days and times are also better/worse. You’ll need to figure that out for your region and where you live. There are certain times of the day/week I have learnt to avoid because in the UK it seems to be the happy hour where all the chaos happens.
At the beginning of the week, people are getting up to speed with the new track – so you might see more accidents as they learn the course bottlenecks and accident hotspots but there are also better opportunities to score better because drivers are not yet at peak performance, lap times will be slower and incidents more common.
Later in the week races might be cleaner as drivers are more familiar with the track but picking up easy points is harder as the talented ones are up to speed.
But beware of the weekend warrior – the driver with a busy schedule during the working week who crams for a races over the weekend. Even if they are fast they can be mixing it up with drivers who’ve had a whole week to get a feel for the track. This leads to an imbalance and therefore more accidents. Late evenings especially those at the weekend also see sim-racers under the influence and whether this improves or impends their racing judgement I leave to you.
Then you should also consider the time of year. In the new year there is an influx of racers who have either taken advantage of iRacing’s black Friday deals to subscribe to the service or people who have started sim-racing having received new wheels and pedals over Christmas.
Where should I race?
Are certain circuits easier to drive defensively and others more likely to result in incidents that are unavoidable? Do some circuits have more bottleneck (or off camber) corners where incidents are more likely and more likely to escalate? Circuits with huge run offs can be more forgiving than others.
When certain series visit certain circuits the chance of incidents increases exponentially. You have to ensure your expectations match the circuits potential for trouble.
Insert something about driving standards.
I’m here to tell you that bad driving standards are in your imagination and that you need to be Schrodinger’s racing driver. Simultaneously more offensive and faster to get into the higher splits whilst also being more defensive, clairvoyant and better at avoiding them.
People will tell you to get faster and avoid the bottom splits but they will also say every accident is avoidable and you need to be better at reading what’s happening.
Some people will tell you to be more offensive and faster so you can keep out of trouble. Others will tell you to be more defensive and learn how to predict and avoid.
You’ll also be told that you are the common crash denominator and you need to change the way you are driving. AND yet I’ve had a number of races ruined before T1 because apparently slowing for a crash ahead makes you a target from behind. AND I’ve avoided accidents on the grid because some racers are unable to pass the start line without crashing.
Stupidity crashes DO happen where there would have been nothing you can do.
BUT everyone also needs to consider if that accident was their fault or if they could have avoided it
How do you get out of rookie, other than just never actually racing anyone?
Rookies and in some regards D Class are a rites of passage. You need to get through them to get to the cleaner / better racing. This is of course a qualitative statement and you’ll see good and bad in all levels but Rookies/D is where its most ugly. Perseverance is key – you might just get a run of bad luck – 3 or 4 races that don’t go to plan because of other drivers and then you’ll have a good streak – two steps forward – one step back.
Regardless of whether you can get out of Rookies or not through fast track promotion you should see the whole season out in Rookies. Being fast and having race craft are two different things. You will learn so much from seeing a season through to its end be regardless of whether its Rookies, D class or above. You’ll also earn your participation credits – currently $4 per eligible series.
Having just starting my third iRacing season and moved into two C class series I can tell you those guys are goooooooood. The racing is fast and close – you want to be confident that you can hold your place and there is no better place to learn it than R and D however painful it feels.
But to get out of Rookies, you really are driving to survive first to gain sR (safety rating) and then worrying about picking up iR (skills points) second. As you do pick up iR you’ll move into higher splits and although you are still in Rookies or D Class the quality of racing will mostly improve.
On a more serious note, I wish iRacing would tighten up on the rules around licence progression and sR/iR and enforcing full participation in a series for at least Rookies would be a start.
How to gain sR or iR consistently?
I found in both R and D I could basically gain places through other peoples misfortune so don’t think you need to ‘win’ places – they will probably be given to you as other people run out of talent. You just need to focus on a steady rhythm and pace beyond the starting carnage.
Make sure you put in the practice. I know I’m about right for me if I’m around 2 seconds off the fastest drivers. More than that and I need to turn more laps.
To qualify or not.
I always felt like qualifying is the gentleman’s way and the right way to do things but many start from the pits to avoid lap 1 carnage. But then being out of position and moving through the field at speed can equally cause accidents. If you are farming sR then starting from the pits is an easy win but if you are looking to gain iR its a tougher call because you really want to be in the top half of the field to gain iR.
Its worth looking at the entry list to see where you are. If you are toward the top then it should be a relatively easy split for you. Towards the bottom – harder. This also gives you an indication on how easy iRacing thinks you should earn iR from the race. Starting from the pits when you are the top of the split might not be the best move.
Always qualify and try to get the highest place you can to drive away from the trouble. I often see carnage in the mirrors. Its good to be in front of the mess. You’ll also gain time on the rest of the field when crashes occur behind.
But if you are having a run of bad luck it’s worth starting from the pits a couple of times to reset the magic.
Braking early going into early lap 1 corners such as T1 can really help you avoid running into incidents when all the cars are closely packed but then you risk people running into you from behind.
Rather than braking early just lift and coast a little before braking so the change of speed is less abrupt and gives the cars behind time to respond.
Once everything settles down you can get into a rhythm and build the pace.
Giving up places
Give up places if you have to. Be the hunter not the hunted. Let them make mistakes.
If someone is all over the back of you just lift in a sensible place and let them pass and then hunt them down. Put pressure on them to make a mistake. If they crash you will gain that place plus time back.
If they are genuinely faster they will pull away. The worst thing about focusing on any battle is people behind being able to catch up and then you can lose more than one place.
Always finish the race. When sh1t goes down, get your repair done even if it needs a tow. Get back out, finish the race and just farm the sR. When the race ends finish the clock until it starts its 45/15 minute run down. You are still gaining sR.
Perseverance is also key. You might just get a run of bad luck. 3 or 4 races that don’t go to plan because of other drivers and then you’ll have a good streak – two steps forward – one step back.
Note about the Bank of SR
Your Safety Rating is iRacing’s currency of progress. By gaining sR you can progress through the licences but lose too much and you can be demoted. Its easy to become obsessed by sR and defending it like your life depend on it. The problem here is that your iRating and competitiveness will suffer – think living in rags and having no food to eat but with a very healthy bank balance!
So, you need to spend sR in order to progress.
- = 2.5 SR is the new zero.
- < 2.5 SR you are in your overdraft. Its time to think about saving SR by driving carefully and taking fewer risks. Let races and places come to you and don’t push for position.
- > 2.5 SR above you have some SR to spend. Are you going to drive more aggressively and take a few more measured risks or are you saving for licence progression?
- < 1 SR the bank are starting to issue charges for being in your overdraft. Stay here and you’ll be demoted.