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 writer 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 D-class license.

It took not even a week in rookies my first promotion in iRacing happened: The safety rating was high enough to earn my way into the D license class, which opened up new opportunities – quicker Formula cars like the USF2000, for example. As an IndyCar fan, this car was especially intriguing to me as it marks the entry point of the “Road to Indy” ladder, which made me pull the trigger and buy the car plus the Hickory Motor Speedway where the next race was to take place, rather quickly.

However, I did not have much company when I ran there: The few competitors that found their way onto the grid of the mini oval had already disconnected a short time after the race had started. Even following this, finding a good grid for the USF2000 was almost impossible on both ovals and road courses. This experience made me look for an alternative, which I found in the Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo. The idea: GT3 races are as popular as ever, and the car should be usable for later series, too.

This was no wrong assumption: In the Ferrari exclusive series, grids were always well filled no matter the time of day. Most of the time, these races were free from the chaos that multiple Reddit threads had warned about – moments of catastrophic mistakes were not completely off the table, of course.

Those moments are the reason my C license most likely will have to wait until the new season begins: I did reach the necessary safety rating of 3.00 to earn a promotion for the upcoming season, but to make the jump immediately, a rating of 4.00 would be required – and I am stuck at 3.70 since something out of my control seems to happen every other race. A perfect example: I got taken out by someone that went too far to the outside of a left turn at Tsukuba in lap one in the USF2000. While trying to get back in position for the following right, he completely missed that I was there and drove right into me. Wheel damage, three minutes of repairs – the race was over before it had started. He did apologize, which I appreciated, but a certain amount of awareness should be expected, you would think.

Hopefully, this is a problem that will mostly take care of itself when moving up to a higher license due to the higher safety rating that is necessary. Which car I am going to drive then is still up in the air – I will definitely look at the season schedule this time, however, to have a good overview about what is set to happen in iRacing. Plus, it will help spending less, as iRacing offers discounts when buying content in bulk.

What I learned
  • Similarly to Assetto Corsa Competizione, it is advisable to choose one car and learn the ins and outs of it to become consistent and fast instead of switching it up too often
  • Setups are barely of any importance in the D license class as most series use a fixed setup
  • iRacing performs great. During my journey through the D license, I made the switch from 16:9 HD TV to a 4k ultrawide monitor and was not sure if my GPU would handle this step up in resolution all that well – which turned out not to be a problem at all. The only bottleneck was the Hungaroring, as FPS dropped to about 30 after turn three. Luckily, this was easily fixed by switching on low-quality trees.
  • Practice makes perfect – or at least faster: Even on tracks I already knew, practice sessions had a noticeable effect, despite sometimes being as short as 30 minutes.
  • Planning ahead will save you cash: Look at what you want to drive in an upcoming season and buy the necessary content in bulk to take advantage of iRacing’s discounts, starting at 10 percent for three to five pieces of content already. Should you get 40 pieces of content at once, you will get a 20 percent discount on that and all future orders.
  • Trading Paints makes your iRacing life more colorful. Even if you do not intend to race a custom livery, the ones of your competitors that do will show up in game after you install the program. Finding a cool paint scheme for you to use is very simple, too.