iRacing is regarded as the gold standard for competitive sim racing. No other simulation features a comparable, dedicated multiplayer system that treats the races like real events. RaceDepartment content team member Yannik Haustein is taking his first, long-overdue steps in the sim now and takes you along with him – this time, focus is on the C license class.

New season, new license class: It took a little bit of patience until I finally got promoted to a C-class license. Of course, this opened up more interesting options and more exciting cars – like the 2000s GT1 cars. These vehicles are among my favorite race cars, and the Aston Martin DBR9 with its V12 engine was extremely tempting to me, which is why it found its way into my shopping cart.

The first race of the GT1 series was set to take place at the Nürburgring Nordschleife, the Industriefahrten variant was on the schedule. I had bought the track a while ago as it is a must have for any sim racer. Compared to the GT3 Ferrari I had been driving before, the DBR9 was a different beast – more power, less aero and a sequential stick made it a challenge. In a positive way, as I found, I enjoyed turning lap after lap at the ring and felt ready for my first race soon after.

However, after registering for said race, there was one of those moments that you learn from: The series was basically dead. Rarely were there more than six or seven drivers registered for a session, when qualifying rolled around, just one opponent remained – and even they did not find their way to the grid. This meant that I could put in some relatively relaxed race laps, netting me my first iRacing win on paper. It certainly did not feel like a proper victory.

Interestingly though, my Safety Rating had gone up considerably after that one race. As I found out, it was the track that caused this: The Nordschleife, depending on configuration, has far over 100 corners – a lot more than other tracks. Since the rating is calculated based on the number of corners, among other things, a few races in the Green Hell can work wonders for your Safety Rating. I kept this in the back of my mind for the time being.

Then Christmas and the new year rolled around, including some holiday stress and a six-hour race in Assetto Corsa Competizione, which meant that I could get back to iRacing only after 2021 had ended. I had hoped that maybe there would be more GT1 racers by that time since many should likely have been on holiday, which unfortunately was not the case. However, the Porsche Cup series was scheduled to race at the Nordschleife, this time in combination with the short version of the GP circuit. I had heard a lot of good things about the car in the past, so my virtual race car fleet got another addition.

Using the Porsche Cup car, I had some very pleasant races at the Ring, including a third place as my best result. Consistency was key in those races, even more so than usual, since a lot of competitors took out themselves or each other by making mistakes on the treacherous Nordschleife. On the other side of the coin, there was full attack mode, but with patience, when I battled for one and a half laps with a Finnish sim racer but could not find a way past him – there were barely two tenths separating us when we crossed the finish line.

Then, I got a surprise: I got promoted to a B license immediately! Basically, I had raised my Safety Rating way above 4.00 while competing in the mandated number of races to get the promotion along the way, so to speak. I am very excited for this, because races in the Dallara IR18 are available starting in that class – a nice treat for me as a big IndyCar fan. So, my journey is going to continue in the open wheeler. You can find out how I fare in this endeavor in the next installment of this series – you can also keep your eye open for live streams that I am going to broadcast for a few of these iRacing sessions on Twitch.

What I learned​

  • Prior to deciding on a series to compete in, make sure to look at the popularity of the ones you eye. Empty sessions are not just less fun, they also will not help you get better as a sim racer – without competition, there is no incentive to push yourself to another level.
  • The Nordschleife can work wonders for your Safety Rating – if you are able to keep the incident count low. It may seem a bit unbalanced when three laps at the Nürburgring can mean an SR increase of 0.60 or more, but on the other hand, it makes sense – if you are able to race cleanly on the Nordschleife, you can most likely do the same on less treacherous and wider circuits.
  • The 992 Porsche Cup car uses a brake balance in its standard setup that is way to front-heavy. Initially, I thought I just could not get used to how the brake feels – the Porsche either barely slowed or locked up, going straight on. The balance is set to about 61 percent by default, a quick Google search revealed that it should be around 45 percent to work better – which proved to be correct. Suddenly, the Porsche Cup car handled very well.