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Challenge Yourself - Your Comfort Zone Will Not Make You Faster

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.

Screenshot_rss_formula_2000_gilles-villeneuve_4-9-121-17-5-57-min.jpg


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!
About author
Yannik Haustein
Life-long motorsports and racing game fan as well as racing history enthusiast. I write stuff here and on www.simracing-unlimited.com and try to be not too mediocre when sim racing with varying degrees of success :confused:

Comments

Well, I "drive" with a gamepad, that is particularly twichy in Assetto Corsa, compared to other sims. Recently, taking on a challenge from the "dev.simracing.gp" platform for testing, I had to do 5 laps in Nordschleife with a LMP1 car (Porsche 919 Hybrid 2016). I did 4 but managed to finish and, I agree, it made me overcome my fear of Nordschleife in AC with a controller!
Just saying :)
 
Hi,

i am running 45 championships in AC right now on about 160 tracks with various cars from 1923 to 2021 in all possible classes, often trying to replicate the real world season´s

So i never had a comfort zone. Its not my goal to master a car, its a goal to be able to drive all kind of cars fast and have maximum fun a variousity.

For example i start a "season" on 95% AI difficulty - if i become champion i incraese the AI for the next season by 2%. Of course i choose also a new car.
If i fail i lower the AI strenghts for the comming season..

The goal is to become Champion on 100% difficulty - than a series is "done"

I do so also with AMS2 and RRE but by far not that big, as AC.

Challanging and rewarding ? I would say Assetto`s DRM Revival is pretty hard to drive on the limit.
The ARS F1 1991 Mod with H-Shifter is sometimes also pure stress. Thats what i have in mind so far.
 
I spent literally 10,000+ miles driving around Donnington Park in AC in preparation for a real life track day which ended up being booked at Brands Hatch instead :rolleyes:

I've gotten into a habit of using the same cars and tracks across the sims (911 GT3, Spa usually) and most of my driving is either hot lapping or racing AI because my setup is currently an office desk and chair which doesn't give me solid consistency (particularly under braking).

I do have a cockpit on the way this week and once I've built that, I plan on getting into online racing where choosing tracks will be out of my control. Racing online players coupled with a dependable rig should push me out of my comfort zone and the real learning will begin!
 
This would work only if you able to understand what you do wrong. In games that I played (AC, ACC, AMS1-2, PC2) there wasn't anything about how to become better driver, no even some PDF in game folder. Only somewhat useful advices in recent games for me was Practice programs in F1.
As I play for my entertainment it becomes boring when you too slow or spin to much and watching replays usually doesn't give any answers why it's happening. So obvious solution will be to drive something other that you can.
 
Having a nice hotlap session with a car you're comfortable with, on a track you don't know really is interesting. I recently did that for Kyalami, then Road America, and it's really a nice feeling to get the track right eventually, find your landmarks, and see your improvements.
 
I'm not very good at Bathurst either but do enjoy lapping it on the rare occasion my league has a race there. I think the problem is mostly that any small mistake in the mountain section often ends sideways across the track followed by a massive pile-up, which is neither fun nor conducive to a good race experience.
 
i practise for my real life journey to NORDSCHLEIFE
i plan AT LEAST ONCE in my life to go to nordschleife with my own car, so i learned track in AC and now i practise it in... BEAM.NG XD
as i found by my real life driving experience BEAM.NG is actually better simulation than AC..... yes it is, its ffb may be "wrong" for AC fanboys as they may tell it lacks "weight transfer bla bla bla etc" but actually wheel in BEAM.NG behaves more real car-like than in AC aggressive response weird wheel acting.
also, MORE IMPORTANT physicks is acttually better in BEAM . NG as AC fanboys praise AC for its physicks, ME by my real life driving experience i find AC too less grippy under the limit and too much grippy at the limit, and real cars (and also BEAM.ng) i find more grippy below the limit and less grippy at the limit.
 
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Simracers striving for a challenge ? I have never heard of such thing. For many driving straight is too challenging. Simracing now contains just too many refugees from arcades. And also too many people who might be proper simracers, but they have too much ego to participate anywhere they are unlikely to excel.

On one hand it is understandable that participapting in something that is not as enjoyable might not be worth it especially if it is hard to find free time. On the other hand, people really doesn't give much chances for many potentially great experiences.
 
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In the last year, historic content in Assetto Corsa has become my default go-to. Inspired by FatAlfie's tracks and the , they felt wrong if not using cars from the '50s and '60s and that got me into other tracks from the period.

It's been a whole new genre for me, getting used to driving without downforce, with a lot of weight and skinny tyres, but what a journey. That I've been able to do this has coincided (or not) with a new approach to sim racing; start slowly in practice sessions full of AI, observe a lot for the first few laps and gradually increase speed. Takes longer to find my limit, but much less frustrating doing so. Thanks so much to all the amazing modders that have made this level of immersion possible with historic car/track combos for the first time since GP Legends.

I haven't done much with modern cars since, but intrigued to see if it changes my approach to modern GTs.

With a young child in the house, I need a 'pause' button so offline racing is critical for me; took me a while to realise it, but AC's AI can actually be tweaked a lot to make it very enjoyable, so the little time I have at the moment zips through very quickly without having too many incidents with this new approach.

It also means complete control over the levels of 'challenge' - a track like Fonteny, 26km of historic track with varying surfaces and no run off, would never have appealed to me years ago, but now I can use my evening window to take in three laps of that, with a variety of cars on track to find a challenge.


blah blah "fanboys" blah blah physicks is acttually better blah blah subjective opinion presented as objective blah blah

Is there any need to drag "my sim is better than yours" into this thread so soon? Different people are immersed in different ways and how nice is it that there are so many choices for us these days?
 
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I used to overlook GT4 cars. For some reason I never tried driving any of them (probably because I thought it was less challenging than a GT3 car).

Boy, was I wrong :roflmao: still learning to drive fast around Bathurst in an Audi R8 GT4, and I'm loving every second of it.
 
I do not think that there is a track I have not been willing to try. The harder the better. I spent three years learning the Nordschliefe and it came in very handy when I got the chance to participate in the iRacing 24 Hour race. Bathurst was my second track I wanted to master.

Getting faster on any track is learning where you can push and where to hang back, and having a set-up that is semi-adequate (I do most of my sim racing in iRacing and my league practices every other day on race week). I do not do much more than aero adjustments on any of my set-ups, for any track, and those adjustments are usually small.

If you have a stable car that you can drive on the edge for multiple laps, stick with it until you have wrung all the speed out of the car you can. Concentrate on making speed one corner at a time. Once you have learned that corner go onto the next, until you have learned how to race the track quickly.

I know it sounds tedious. If you try to adjust set-ups and keep having issues it can be tedious. If you stick with a stable set-up that you can handle you then start concentrating on wringing everything you can from that car on that track.

Also: Remember the important truism that "Slow is Fast". Try braking sooner, but not as hard. This allows you to carry more speed around a corner and hit the go-fast earlier on exit.

You don't have to be afraid of a track, you just have to have confidence in the car you are driving on that track. Learn the car and learning the track becomes much easier.

YMMV...
 
This would work only if you able to understand what you do wrong. In games that I played (AC, ACC, AMS1-2, PC2) there wasn't anything about how to become better driver, no even some PDF in game folder. Only somewhat useful advices in recent games for me was Practice programs in F1.
As I play for my entertainment it becomes boring when you too slow or spin to much and watching replays usually doesn't give any answers why it's happening. So obvious solution will be to drive something other that you can.
If you have no clue about what goes wrong, ask fellow simracers. The best is online practice when the other guy watches the game from your car and coaches you in real time on teamspeak, discord or whatever. That's how I learned. If you don't play online, post a replay or a video and you'll get plenty of support. In fact most often you'll get too many and conflicting bits of advice,
 
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Well, I "drive" with a gamepad, that is particularly twichy in Assetto Corsa, compared to other sims. Recently, taking on a challenge from the "dev.simracing.gp" platform for testing, I had to do 5 laps in Nordschleife with a LMP1 car (Porsche 919 Hybrid 2016). I did 4 but managed to finish and, I agree, it made me overcome my fear of Nordschleife in AC with a controller!
Just saying :)
How did your hands felt like at the end? Driving with controller for so long is a pain for me. If it wasn't for that I would actually do racing more often.
 
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I spent about a month doing nothing but hotlapping Silverstone in ACC to get my time under 2:00, which I finally did. That taught me how satisfying it is to really put in the hours to learn a track. And, personally, I actually find that more entertaining than wheel-to-wheel racing. I like competing against myself.

I really feel the need to become competent on the Ring. And by "competent," I mean that I'd like to get my time under 6:45 in a GT3 car. But I need to break 7:00 first.

Telemetry and reference laps are vital for this. I like hotlaps.io in ACC. Of course, the problem with the Ring is that I can watch YouTube tutorials, track telemetry, etc, but when I'm actually on track it is easy to forget where I am, lose focus for a moment, etc, but that's why it's a challenge!
 
For some reason I find the harder tracks easier or nicer to drive. I have discovered that if I don't like a track it's because I'm bad at it, so rather than avoid it I spend more time at it. It's how I grew to really like Monza. I came to terms with the fact it's a track that demands accuracy and I think putting in the time to get good there will make you a better driver.

I really like more complex tracks like Kyalami, or Bathurst though, the more corners the better.
 

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