Help a Noob Day.


Nick Jones

Hi All,

I'm a complete noob at this sim racing malarkey! Im not ashamed to admit it. I've been racing offline for about 6 weeks and tried one public race and got rammed off the track before the first bend! I've scoured the forums for tips and advice and found some good stuff, for example the RaceDepartment setup guide by R. van Rijn(I wouldn't of figured any of this out on my own). To be honest though I still find most of this stuff, especially online racing really overwhelming.

I race offline competing against the AI in WTCC 2007 championships, gradually increasing the user level and AI. Im driving at pro level (cant quite handle the rwd bmw's at pro level yet), driving the Seat Leon and recently started an STCC pro season with the Honda (Lovin driving that car). I drive using the G25 using the H shifter and manual clutch.

As I'm self taught though, I feel like I've missed some of the basics like maybe I should be shifting gears differently? eg I tend to work my way through all the gears up and down but often wonder if it would be better to shift directly to the gear I need eg 5th to 3rd?

So if you have any tips or advice I'd be really interested to hear it no matter how basic it may be. I'd also really appreciate any advice on how to start in the world of online racing. Does RaceDepartment have any races for noobs?

Thanks for any help you can give.


Stuart Thomson

The Stoat Without Fear ™
Jul 2, 2008
Nick - I was in your shoes about 6 months ago.

Advice - just jump into an event you fancy. There aren't really noob races, but that doesn't really matter that much.

You won't learn offline what a difference it makes having a real person behind the wheel of the other cars racing with you.

Read our rules, jump into an event, follow those rules. Pace is not an issue.
Feb 17, 2008
yep you will find always someone with your speed, and you will make much more progress if you join the events here at rd as if you go and play offline

Nigel Atkins

Jan 3, 2007
Welcome to RD Nick :clap:

nice post and i like your honesty, just wish more people could be more honest about there driving skills :highfive:

i use the paddles so obviously have to go through all the gears, but i would say if the corner/car combination can handle it then going from 5th to 3rd could give good engine braking, just watch out for locking the wheels a blip of the throttle while down shifting does help (when you get the timing right).

turning auto clutch off does seem a bit quicker, especial of the grid. but can be tricky keeping the engine running when you go off.

i would say the model of how to learn on-line racing is Bob Miley, i`m sure he`ll see your thread and make a post.

Dave Stephenson

RaceDepartment Technical Administrator
Sep 4, 2007
Also to add, when you join an event here. try to sign-up or aim for an event where you have time to practice. Like for instance, minis are a friday night thing, form lunchtime GMT till the events start there are people comming and going from the server, helping each other out, getting setups etc. get in on those sessions as you'll learn alot quickly and be able to get some pointers specific to your even too. If you have teamspeak even better :)

Ryan Callan

Sep 30, 2008
Welcome Nick.

And seriously, like the others say, actually racing with humans improves your skills and enjoyment so much more than racing AI. Jump in and out of tyhe servers, you will no doubt fond someone or several wiling to help you out. You will also be able to watch other people's lines etc that way. Pace is not an issue or essential, wanting to have a good experience is :).

Never be afraid to ask - setting your car up is overwhelming at first but it slowly starts to sink in, trust me :)


actually racing with humans improves your skills
I wish it did :)

My problem is that I have no idea what is right and what isn't, except that nothing I've tried so far has made me any faster.

And I know someone said pace doesn't matter, but if I make the target, finish a lap in a red car, it's trivially easy. Sorry for the sarcasm, but what other criteria might I use to decide if I'm better or not? Whatever that is, clearly if I don't even know what it is, I certainly don't have any idea if I'm doing that right either :) At least pace is something I can measure, and see isn't improving, even if I can't see how to improve it...

It's a pity the game doesn't have this kind of feedback built in. It'd be (arguably) better than having AI - especially if the AI aren't subject to the same physics and so can't be copied (which afaict they don't appear to be? Or at least some of the time trial laps seem all over the road compared with the AI's smooth trip around the black tyre lines, which suggests to me either no one can drive in this game :) Or the AI can travel faster on that line than it's actually possible to?)

Any sims that do try this? I have gone online, but I don't think I gained much from the experience other than last place. It just told me that I sucked (but the AI could do that) but not anything about fixing it.

Dave Flower

Nov 21, 2008
First - don't be intimidated into thinking evryone else at RD is well experienced and not a noob - some are, many are not.
Second - Playing against AI, whilst, useful for a bit of fun and practice will never give you the experience of racing against real people - a major point here is how much abuse you can give AI drivers compared to real drivers online - get up to speed offline and used to rubbing and pushing with AI offline and your likely to upset more people. You may be faster but you will be surprised how easy it is to send real drivers off with relatively small taps or rubs.
Third - Don't think its all about speed and fast laps - true it would be nice to win races, but in reality with 25 in a server, for 24, its gonna be no cigar - get used to racing just for the fun of it - so what if your at the back today? If your in the same server as me you probabably won't be anyway!
Fourth - Don't fall into the 'round n round in circles' trap with settings and setups - If your new and struggling, changing settings all of the time, wether thats in car set up or controller sensitivity, will only drive you nuts - you change a setting, see an improvement think you've made it better, but often at first its YOU getting better, the setup change may even slow you down, but the practice your getting is improving you, just the setting made you slower, practice made you faster, so no improvement... On settings I would say - if you have a wheel - make sure analogue sectors in controller advanced are set to OFF, make sure the throttle and brake sensitivity here make sense ie, that they go up in proportion with pedal presses - the leave well alone. As for car setups, everyone is different, with different hardware and skills - but until your consistent be careful of changing too much at first - load the SIMBIN setup for the track, reduce the fuel load, reduce braking pressure (so your not locking wheels up), perhaps change brake bias (as a rule bias away from the driven wheels a little on the SIMBIN setups - stops lock ups and spins on braking/gearing down hard), maybe change the rideheight down a little - but the RULE here is to get used to driving a car wih a consistent setup, then once you can put consistent and improving laps in with that start to worry about setups.
Finally and most improtantly - get in online servers, you can play against AI for the next ten years - your always gonna improve more when its real humans to play with... Public servers will help lots, but don't be put of RD events - were here for fun, if someones slower they don't get abuse or ridicule, so long as others see that your not been disruptive and are trying to drive with consideration for others, they will be very understanding and often, I have found, very helpful and PLEASED to have you in events - go on sign up for some Racing Club Events, its fun, even if you only see other cars as they lap you like I do !!!

Dave Flower

Nov 21, 2008
My piece of litereture!!! - Are you saying I babble on and on and on mate or what? lol Cause I know I do sorry.... :)

Bram Hengeveld

RaceDepartment Founder
Dec 26, 2006
And then there is always this

Warren Dawes' Friendly Development Series <----- click here

"Want to race in clean, friendly, events with larger fields of fellow Racing Club Members?

Want the opportunity to race with the best drivers and learn from them how to improve your driving skills?

Want to experience league style racing, but without the pressure of week-to-week results?

Well here is your chance!"

Warren Dawes, concept creator


Third - Don't think its all about speed and fast laps - true it would be nice to win races, but in reality with 25 in a server, for 24, its gonna be no cigar - get used to racing just for the fun of it - so what if your at the back today?
Because it is :) It's not a question of winning. It's like racing against lewis hamilton on a pushbike, it's a question of not even being competitive, let alone going to win or lose :)

I know the community has a myth that "no assists" is really hard etc so that folk perhaps believe merely driving is difficult and a skill.

Me? I am in the same position as Forza 2. I can drive the cars, I can drive the cars without assists just as fast, but I don't know what to do to drive fast and the game offers no feedback as to whether you are driving well or not (except the rather crude measure of lap time - my lap times tell me I'm slow, but not why they are slow)

Imagine you can beat the AI on 90% trivially. Just drive lap after lap, good or bad and beat them easily. Now what?

This is the problem, no amount of lapping makes any difference. There was no challenge to simply driving around the track slowly. It's not a struggle at all. But driving around fast I have no idea what to do, let alone to begin to be in the position of trying to do it. It's not a struggle either - I'm not thinking "I wish I could nail this corner" I'm thinking "What am I really supposed to do ay any of these corners?" Ergo, it's just impossible.

Let me try an analogy.

If I was practising the guitar, then I don't start by playing a piece full speed - that's just too hard. I play it slow first. Yes?

Ok, but you can't just play the guitar slowly, you have to play it like you will when you play it fast, properly, correct fingering, the right movements etc etc. Otherwise it will always be slow.

But, here's the problem with driving. I can drive faster than the AI on 90% maybe even a little higher. I can do laps of, say, Brands Indy at 56 seconds all day. Perhaps some of these laps are complete rubbish - slow because I skid etc. Perhaps some of them are good and, if I practised driving like that for long enough eventually I would speed it up.

But, the only thing I have to tell me whether my driving is good or not is the lap time....and with the AI on 110% I simply cannot copy what they are doing, or see any way to drive around the lap at the speed they are.

Online it's the same, I simply cannot get the lap times only now, crashes aside , the lap times start way beyond my ability and go higher. There's no one to compete with (or perhaps there is, but they are going to be in the same position as me anyway. I could not help someone who I could beat, because I have no idea, so I doubt very much that anyone I could beat is going to learn anything from me)

Similarly, sitting at the back online I don't see what other people are doing to let them drive around the track faster. I could buy the idea, if you could say why you think being online makes the difference - what am I supposed to be looking at?

Nor do I know what I might do at a slower speed that's correct, so it could be speeded up.

I don't bother with settings at all except perhaps gearing and steering lock and fuel. But you see I'm not struggling, except at being fast.

Once you say "don't worry about being fast" - I no longer have a problem to solve. In fact I don't really comprehend how anyone, unless they've not driven a car perhaps, would have any problem driving around the tracks slowly.


SpeedyMite Racing
Feb 3, 2009
My piece of litereture!!! - Are you saying I babble on and on and on mate or what? lol Cause I know I do sorry.... :)
Keep on babbling Dave, this noob appreciated the tips also lol :)

I agree, I practiced offline for about a month with the intention of at least being able to complete a race without too much drama - going online was a very different kettle of fish - much more fun and less predictable.

Had my first race with RD on Friday, finished near the back of the pack but had a ball :wink2: Looking fwd to my next outing but will definitely practice the car / setup / track combo more before the race.

Would be great to see more folks on TS too...

Petr Kantor

Jul 22, 2008
Well, I would second that. I know I do have reserves with driving skill too, but I am also well aware of the fact, that EVERYONE has a better setup than I do. It is haunting. I am walking to work, thinking about setups, thinking what could all the things possibly mean. I go home, planning to do a massive testing load, and end up fed up at the lap 10,knowing my tyres are off specs (again!) and knowing not how to correct it. This feeling that my car is so badly set up is taking away half the fun already. Then, when I am at a corner with somebody in front of me at same speed, I see how my car is drifting away off the ideal line, not being able to cope with the forces, while the other car jus whizzes past the apex, and on the next turn, I can barely see his braking lights that far they are, that takes the second part of fun.

Yes, i managed to overlap some drivers in a competition, been division 4 out of 6 in only race I managed to get into last year's league, but I still feel, I am in the "rest of the world" league.

Setups, proper setups, is what I need want improving. I can play with tyres a bit, know what camber is supposed to do (or is it a caster?!) (am no english), I know what temp I should aim for in the outer, middle, inner spec, but

How do I raise overall temp on just one wheel, not affecting the other wheels temps?

And how come, my temps seem to be better than the base setup, yet it seems like I am completely offspec... the driving is harder and the tyres does not seem to have less wear...

What specs are recommended with f3000, what with minis? Im so struggling.

If anybody would point me out to other guides than Mr. Rijn's setup, and Make ur setup in 45 (or god knows how many) steps from GTR2, or even giving PERSONAL advice, i'd be superhappy.

Jarrod Keen

Sep 4, 2008
I'll tell you how I got a lot better. In the beginning I'd get involved with one event. Say the Weekly minis race... then I'd look at what track they're driving next week and I'd practice.... not just practice against the computer... practice in time trial mode where you can see why you're not fast. You can download a ghost lap from someone faster than you and watch his ghost pull away from you in turn 2 and you can know that's where you must fix your line to stay with that faster lap... then find the next problem with your technique.

You can also use your own ghost lap for comparison so you're constantly running against your own best lap and the other/faster lap that you downloaded.

THEN as you prepare for this EVENT (which is exciting and fun by itself) then you will be building confidence in a certain car and gaining knowledge of a certain track in prep for next week.

Then you should get on teamspeak as people are very helpful on there.

Most of us are willing to help. Just ask for setups or line tips or entry speeds or proper gearing etc.... we'll help.

Good luck and If you like the GT Pros, race with us on tuesday nights and get on teamspeak. We have serveral guys that will help you.

Ryan Callan

Sep 30, 2008
The way I got better was simply, as Jarrod says, racing against ghosts and/or watching other people who are in the same room as me.

Actuallty watching real motor racing makes a hguge difference too, pay attention to what lines they drive etc etc Try new lines and techniques, but dont try them just once, try them 4/5 times until you're sure that it doesn't improve your laptime.

The key for me is smooth driving. I realise that is a cliche but it's true. Half the problems people find they get when they go round corners can be corrected BEFORE the corner by being on the right line and not having an 'upset' car in the first place.

Line from Jackie Stewart: 'A dog, if you surprise it, may bite you, but if you move gradually towards it you won't upset or surprise it. It's the same with a car'

Releasing smoothly off the brakes and pressing smoothly on the throttle are obvious but very major essentials in driving fast.