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How to get started with sim racing - Part 3: Simulators

Welcome to the third and final part of our how to get started guide to sim racing. So far we have covered arcade and sim-cade with suiting equipment. This one is gonna be simulators and more high-end equipment. Let’s get to it!

If you want to have the most realistic virtual racing experience, then there’s two titles that clearly stand out from the rest. iRacing and rFactor 2.

For you who want to pursue a career in esport, this is where you probably will end up at some point. Both games are only available on PC, but doesn’t need expensive high-end PC’s to run at decent performance.
Neither of them is the shiny graphic experience like the games we covered on part one, but you don’t race on iRacing and rFactor 2 for the graphics. You play them for the physics and realism in terms of car behaviour. 

What's iRacing?
iRacing is subscription based where you buy a 1, 3, 12 or 24 months at a time. As a base you start out with a limited number of cars and tracks, the rest have to be purchased as DLC. The cars cost $12 and the tracks $15 each.
However, there is a quantity discount if you buy several items at once, and if you buy everything at the same time, you get a 30 percent discount. It can be an expensive journey, but every car and track is laser scanned, which ensures high quality content.

iRacing offers a wide range of series in all types of racing. All from the traditional road and oval racing to rallycross and dirt ovals. There’s a licensing system that determines which series you have access to run, so you have to work your way up in each discipline of racing.  Everyone starts in Rookie class. 


The way to upgrade your license is to race clean and fair in a certain number of races of a series in your current license level. If you to that, you will receive points for your safety rating which promotes yo directly to the next license class when it reaches 4.0 or above. You can also move up by having a safety rating of 3.0 or above when the season ends. A season runs over 12 weeks, with the track changing every week in each series. TO find more information regarding license classes and much more, visit the links to iRacing’s YouTube channel at the end of this article, where you can find several how-to videos. 

What's rFactor 2?
A couple of months ago, we interviewed the managing director of Studio 397, Marcel Offermans, that develops rFactor 2. There you got a great insight into the progress the simulator have had in recent years and what’s still to come. rFactor 2 can be purchased through Steam for €30.
As with iRacing, you start out with a limited number of cars and lanes, but in return, there are plenty of mods you can download through the steam workshop for free. First and foremost, look for cars and tracks made by Image Space Incorporation or Studio 397. These are made by the developers of rFactor 2, which guarantees you high quality content while it being free. 

It is also possible to buy cars and tracks, which will probably become the norm for rFactor 2 in the future. There are car packs with prototypes and GT cars, as well as laser scanned track such as Le Mans, Nürnburgring(both GP and the Nordschleife) and Sebring. 

rFactor 2 is currently limited to organized league racing when it comes to multiplayer. As Marcel Offermans mentioned in the interview with us, a matchmaking system is coming to rFactor 2 with the new UI that seems to be a game changer. But until then, there’s plenty of great leagues to participate in.
If you’re a fan of long distance racing, then the Virtual Endurance Championship, also called VEC is a logic choice. VEC is basically a virtual edition of the popular WEC series from real-life motorsports. The organizers of VEC collaborate with the developers of rFactor 2, Studio 397 and are therefore ensured that the series is well-run and professional. 

In addition, rFactor 2 is also the game that was used for the 24 hours of Le Mans virtual in June this year, that was a huge success both on and off track.

For open-wheel racing, Formula SimRacing and GPVWC is the two top leagues on rFactor 2. Both have a ladder system that gives you the ability to go through a learning curve before taking on the elite of sim racing. 

In terms of equipment, the belt-driven wheels mentioned in part two is used by many top drivers in these games. But if you wanna take a step up, a direct drive wheel from SimuCube or Fanatec with a set of pedals from Heusinkveld being the way to go.
A direct drive wheel is basically a servo motor, which gives you a huge amount of detail about the behaviour of your car. These bit of kit are quite expensive, but it also gives you a whole new experience and gets you closer to the feeling of a real race car.
For rigs, an aluminium cockpit is necessary to cope with the forces of the direct drive wheel and pedals with loadcell brake from Heusinkveld.
Like mentioned in part two, SimPlexity is a great choice with their multiple options of rigs and customization.  

That concludes the end of part three.
I hope this has made you wiser on which game and platform to choose to get started on sim racing. Put a comment below this article if you have any questions, create a thread in our forum section or message us on the GSRH Facebook page.

Link to every game, league and equipment mentioned can be found at the bottom of this article. 



iRacing How-to videos:

rFactor 2

Buy rFactor 2 on steam

Virtual Endurance Championship

Formula SimRacing



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