top of page

Opinion: iRacing Still Has A Sportscar Racing Problem


The Ferrari 296 GT3 of Risi Competizione

There have been a lot of great updates to iRacing recently, and we know more are to come - but where does this leave IMSA and other endurance racing on the service? In 2022 we suddenly had 5 up-to-date GT3 entries, but the start of 2023 has dropped us back down to two in the BMW M4 GT3 and Mercedes AMG EVO. We have the new BMW LMDh and a LMP3 chassis is incoming (groan), but the rest of the IMSA field is made up of the least-used LMP2 chassis on earth and all but two GT3 entries a generation old or more. Additionally, there are several other issues to address in order to accurately simulate endurance racing on the sim. Let's start with


Slow Content Updates

While other developers aggressively leveraged their contracts with racing organizations to provide updated content, iRacing has historically seemed to slow-play their partnership with IMSA. Again, we know this has improved in the last couple of years, but for quite a long time the IMSA series on iRacing looked nothing like the product on the race tracks of North America: extremely out of date prototypes in the top classes, and none of the GT classes ran IMSA branding. One also cannot discuss this topic without addressing that some of the most successful makes in IMSA's GTD class have yet to grace the virtual racing surfaces of iRacing. In conjunction with getting updated cars added we have


Lack Of Proper Class Designation LEDs

A couple years ago iRacing finally updated the GTE class to include IMSA's GTLM presentation and the GT3s with the GTD class parts, but now that GTLM is a thing of the past a split for GTD PRO and GTD are needed. Likewise, general GT3 divisions are needed in the "SRO" type series allowing for PRO, AM, Silver, etc. I don't have all the answers for official sessions (perhaps take the top 35% iRated drivers as GTD PRO and the remaining 65% as GTD, splitting across sessions after that initial split - or going even-thirds for non-IMSA GT3 events) but at the very least iRacing should allow rosters for leagues and hosted sessions which not only control the color of the LED position panels, but leave them with only the car choice at session entry that they signed up for the league in (if the league chooses that configuration option). Next we have


Electronic Racing Assists & Tires

To be fair iRacing has done great work in improving the ABS. I had a short conversation with sim-racer extraordinaire and rising GT4/GT3 star Daniel Morad, who had high praise for iRacing's braking stating flatly "nobody does it better". He continued:


"They still need to fix their weird stability control issue when sliding into a corner. There’s some weird ABS/TC thing that happens when you slide a bit on entry but that doesn’t happen IRL. Also, they need to improve the feeling of the tires being pressed into the ground. It can sometimes feel like the car is floating"


I'll take his opinions over most any day of the week based on his experience in sim racing and undeniable talent behind the wheel. The tires still need several improvements, including but not limited to pressure loss due to abuse; punctures, cuts, and other failures; and providing race management tire data in the telemetry.


While we know iRacing has been public about new development on the tires, they're still running the same power cut traction control as my 2006 Suzuki Grand Vitara. They also still have a single TC or "locked" TC in the GT3s, when most of the updated cars use a split latitudinal and longitudinal system; there's no need to penalize makes using a split control to "level the playing field" for makes that don't, as they compete very well against each other in real life and across other sim titles. The current traction control implementation is simply not going to work once rain is implemented, as it seems to have no consideration whatsoever for actively regaining traction in a slipping tire. While rain will be a major player in improving the experience of endurance racing, another factor is


Cautions/Car Maintenance In Special Events

The decisions when to pit and what to do to the car are a major part of endurance racing - but neither matter on iRacing. Just hot lap for as long as the tires last then take full service. Do you need an extended stop to change the brakes? Nope. Do you need to worry about a caution coming out? Not in the slightest.


To provide a true experience any race 4 hours or more in length should have an automatic caution any time a car is forced to tow due to a meatball or being out of fuel near enough a racing area to cause a hazard. If we're going to have realistic damage, then let's address the realism of debris on the track and needing to safely collect the damaged vehicle. Note that this would only be for severe damage and not spins where all parties carry on. The possibility of a caution quickly after a caution, even without rain, could have a drastic effect on teams' strategy and may even see the alternate fuel maps be used as teams bank on a caution or two coming out to grab track position. There's also the factor of real racing where teams need to do parts maintenance such as brake changes - and timing that against possible cautions or rain would have a huge impact. Finally we need to talk about


Repairs

This has long been a sore spot, as the damage model may be new but the repair model is still from NASCAR Racing 2003. There's nothing worse than getting slight body damage to carbon fiber body panels only to see them bend like a beer can and then ruin the rest of your race with as much of the warping hammered back out as your clearly drunk pit crew could manage, down .5 a lap or more on top end when you know in real life most decently funded teams would simply slap a new panel on - especially for the prototypes. While it is fair to take a long time to repair suspension damage, most body damage these days can be solved without losing a ton of time and even when a body panel isn't replaced it gets duct-taped and the car doesn't lose that much pace. In the case of the top-tier prototypes we often see them replace the nose and the wing under pit stops - not just for damage, but for performance changes.


Car Count

I saved this for last because it's the most nerve-wracking. As iRacing exists now adding more cars will slaughter current PC builds as it is still a CPU bottleneck. My hope is that with the implementation of rain (a sure frame killer) that they're actually switching to a new engine that will offload as much of the graphics work as possible and make better use of the available cores of modern systems. If this is indeed the path they've taken, we'll be able to see the virtual IMSA series, leagues, and endurance events able to accept the LMP3 class and new LMDh cars we already know are on the way (though we can only speculate as to which ones) without drop-kicking GT3s off the track. There's nothing sadder to me than seeing only one or two GT3 makes in a race in which the real life counterpart has a large GT3 field spread among 9 or more manufacturers.


But at the end of the day - I'm just a small voice among many. Hopefully iRacing is already well ahead of me on these issues and I'll one day get to be as excited again about doing the 24 Hours of Daytona as I was when they first added day-to-night transitions.

1 Comment


Corey Allen
Corey Allen
Apr 26, 2023

I fully agree with everything especially the full course yellows, GTD splits, content updates and car counts I hope to one day see a full IMSA series with all the cars officially licensed

Like
bottom of page