Some cars and tracks just command respect, be it in real life or in sim racing. They are notoriously difficult to get used to and drive properly, which is why sim racers often tend to stay away from them. The abundance of Monza GT3 servers are a symptom of this, with not many daring to try and race more difficult combinations. Staying in your comfort zone will not make you a faster sim racer, however.

Even in a relatively easy-to-drive GT3 car, tracks like Mount Panorama are on the difficult side of things to drive in sim racing. While there are public lobbies with it in Assetto Corsa Competizione, for example, they rarely get grids of ten or more drivers, and even in leagues, a collective groan can be heard whenever Bathurst is next on the schedule.

Granted, it is easy to see why practicing the track might be off-putting: You start with a good amount of motivation, get comfortable in the car – and then crash a few times. Motivation: gone. Other options are easily accessible in sim racing, and sometimes you just need a break to start over fresh, or give it a go on another day. But often, the negative experience leads to avoidance of a certain track or car.

This is where a certain stubbornness will go a long way: If you really want to learn a track, you will keep going back to it time and time again. From personal experience, I remember falling in love with some tracks because of this – most noticeably Bathurst. Sure, it can be annoying when a very slight mistake over the top of the mountain leads to a huge crash that ends your race. But on the other hand, getting it right in that tricky section feels like flying and is such a satisfying feeling that you want to do it again. The final sector of the Nordschleife is like this as well – fast corners that you really need to know and commit to, and if you do, you feel invincible when you go through there absolutely on the limit.

For cars, it can be a similar experience. Take the Formula RSS 2000 V10 in Assetto Corsa, for example: Similar power to the Ferrari F2004 by Kunos, but somewhat less downforce and crucially no traction control make this circa 2000 Formula 1 car an absolute handful to drive. To extract the most out of it, practicing brake and throttle control are essential – otherwise, you will lock up and understeer into the run-off or spin off exiting a corner because you could not keep 800+ horses in check. Once the feel for the car is there and you can actually start to shave off tenths of seconds as you get more comfortable, it has to be one of the most satisfying things in sim racing.

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Most importantly, however, it will make you a better sim racer overall – even if you only race GT3 cars competitively. They may have traction control, but good throttle control will help you even with this aid in the car as it will hinder your acceleration if you lean on the TC at corner exit. On the other hand, being able to avoid the ABS kicking in under braking after the initial braking phase can gain you grip and time simultaneously – something that will be helpful especially in a tight, competitive environment. Also, knowing the ins and outs of various tracks might come in helpful in the future since you never know when a circuit appears on the schedule for a new season of a league, for example.

Leave your comfort zone. Practice cars and tracks that seem like a huge task. Introduce some variation into your sim racing if you have not done so already. Challenge yourself and do not let yourself get discouraged too quickly. You will learn from it – and it will make you a more complete sim racer.

What are your favorite challenging, but rewarding car and track combos, and how have they helped you become a better sim racer? Let us know in the comments!