Saturday, 26 December 2015

[Falcon 4] Tutorial 4 - CCRP delivery mode at Kotar

In this video we're going to be looking at CCRP delivery mode. While CCIP was a visual bombing mode, CCRP allows you to bomb in poor weather, but it also allows you to loft weapons onto the target from standoff ranges, which will come in handy when we begin to attack real targets.

[Combat Mission] 3/116th 29th ID seize La Valence - turns 1

The first series of turns from this scenario:

Sunday, 20 December 2015

[Combat Mission] 3/116th 29th ID seize La Valence - setup

The 29th Infantry Division had one of the hardest of hard times on D-Day. Not only was it destined to land on Omaha Beach, but, unlike the 1st ID, landing beside it, the 29th had no combat experience. This was to be its baptism of fire.

Once driven inland under the exemplary and inspirational leadership of Major General Norman Cota the division pushed deeper and deeper into the bocage against a mix of German units, the 352nd ID, Ost units, as well as elite Fallschirmjaeger.

Their eventual goal was the town of St.Lo, but to get there they would have to overcome resistance in villages such as La Valence.

[Combat Mission] Vierville - turns 2

This scenario didn't go quite as planned. But that's okay, because when things go wrong is when we learn the most. And I had much to learn from this scenario.

Sunday, 13 December 2015

[Falcon 4] Tutorial 3 - CCIP delivery mode at Kotar

The third in a series of tutorials for Falcon 4 BMS, we're at the Kotar range today to practise the CCIP delivery mode.

This is the first of three tutorials, and forms the basic setup tutorial for all three. It's a visual delivery mode, and we will pick up the target as we drop below the clouds.

The most difficult part of this procedure is actually coming off the target, as it requires a prompt pull to 20-30 degrees of nose up pitch, while at the same time being careful not to over stress the aircraft.

[Combat Mission] Vierville - turns 1

The first two hours of turns from the Vierville scenario. The action is slow to build, but when it comes it is intense, and illuminates basic errors in my approach. But all that lends itself to quite a learning experience.

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

[Combat Mission] Vierville - setup

It's time to switch sides - but nothing too dramatic, we're not going to be all reckless and start wearing swastikas and goose stepping about the place. No! This time we're donning our jump suits and we're parachuting into Normandy as part of the 506th PIR. Here we're setting up for the Vierville scenario, an hour long attempt to capture the village with support from 4th Infantry Division as it breaks out south from Utah Beach.

[ETS2] Zero to Hero 3 - Amsterdam to London

We're on the road again in Euro Truck Simulator 2, this time returning from the continent with another load. The question is, can we avoid any major incidents, and can we reverse park a trailor for the first time?

[Combat Mission] In the shadow of the hill 8.30am - turns 3

The concluding turns from the In the shadow of the hill 8.30am scenario:

Sunday, 29 November 2015

[ETS2] Zero to Hero 2 - Rotterdam to Groningen

In this inslatment of the series we're transporting a precious cargo of ice cream all the way from Rotterdam to Groningen, discovering scenery along the way, and Amsterdam, for good measure.

[Falcon 4] Tutorial 2 - bad weather ILS landing at Taegu

This is a difficult training mission. Landing not just with no visibility right down to minimums, but an approach in high wind. The technique I use differs a little from the instructions, but for me it's a more practical method, at least for the beginner.

[Combat Mission] In the shadow of the hill 8.30am - turns 2

More turns from this scenario.

Sunday, 22 November 2015

[Euro Truck Sim 2] Zero to Hero #1 Sheffield to Rotterdam

I'm not a big Euro Truck driver. I've had the title for quite a while but haven't put the time into it that would qualify me as even close to being proficient.

And it's in that spirit that I jump on this long departed bandwagon. I know, everyone has done ETS2, but you don't come to this blog or my Youtube channel for current ground breaking content. I'm much too slow for that.

I can't even reverse a trailer straight.

But that's the point of this series. If you're tired of watching other people drive a perfect route from A to B, if you're interested in watching someone attempt to improve, then this series might be for you. If it isn't, then that's all good, too.

[Combat Mission] In the shadow of the hill 8.30am - turns 1

The first turns from this scenario, with plenty of surprises and with action from almost the very start right up until the end.

[Combat Mission] In the shadow of the hill 8.30am - setup

We have arrived at the final scenario in this mammoth series of scenarios covering part of Operation Jupiter, the capture of Hill 112. In this final ninety minutes we cover the introduction of the Hampshires as 7 Hampshires advance on Maltot. The Dorsets are due to arrive ten minutes into the scenario to protect the Hampshires right flank and capture Maltot church.

[Combat Mission] In the shadow of the hill 7am - turns 3 & 4

The concluding two series of turns for this scenario:

Sunday, 25 October 2015

[Falcon 4] Ramp start tutorial @ Kunsan Airbase, South Korea

This is a flight sim that I have wanted to get into for a long time.

What I mean by that is that Falcon 4 requires a real investment not just of time but also in terms of study. This is the first of the modern study sims.

To put that into context until the original Falcon was released flight sims had been, for reasons of hardware limitations, been somewhat limited. Microprose dominated at least the combat flight sim market, and the complexity of their titles increased over time, but Spectrum Holobyte, the developers of Falcon pushed the fidelity of their sims further.

When Falcon 4.0 was rushed to market in December 1998 it was under the Micrprose label, after Spectrum Holobyte acquired the company, and after Hasbro had in term acquired them. The incomplete title was patched, but before the fixes could be completed Habsro closed the studio.

After the source code was briefly leaked on an FTP site the community essentially continued development. The ultimate result of that is Falcon 4 BMS.

So, that's how we reached this point, with a title that is almost seventeen years old, looks dated, but still has a depth and complexity that stands up well even now. In fact if you speak to any group of flight simmers about a campaign mode for whatever new title has been released they will almost certainly raise Falcon 4's campaign mode as the gold standard. It has yet to be equalled, let alone surpassed.

I have looked at F4 at various times in the past, but the furthest I've reached so far is the air-to-air weapons tutorial. I'm now dedicated to making it all the way to the campaign, through all of the flight and weapons tutorials.

In this first video I'm starting the jet up, taxiing, taking off, navigating back to Kunsan, landing and then taxiing to shutdown.

[rFactor 2] Introduction to Sebring

Now this is more like it.

After the debacle with a clearly unfinished Interlagos rFactor 1 conversion we have a track that, while not laser scanned, feels as it should do - like a bumpy airfield conversion.

But it's bumpy for all the right reasons. It doesn't feel like there a lot of missing data under the car, it feels like every bump that's actually present in the track is coming up through the suspension and your seat.

And what a challenge it is in the Skip Barber Regional. You have to have your line down absolutely right because of the amount of lateral movement that's possible. At times there is no clear line, you must define it yourself.

In the first video I'm giving my first impressions of the track. In the second I'm pushing harder and looking for better speed. You can see from the second video how often the car wants to get away from me, and how I have to at times come out of the gas and allow the car to settle down.

[Combat Mission] In the shadow of the hill 7am - turns 1 & 2

The first series of turns from the Combat Mission - Battle for Normandy scenario.

[rFactor 2] Interlagos and the woes of track conversions

At the outset I have to say Interlagos was a huge disappointment.

I have driven the track in iRacing quite a bit, and it's a favourite. It has that iconic complex of corners at the start, standing on the brakes after the long straight, turning in to the downhill sections and then being aggressive on the gas and steering wheel until you exit onto the back straight.

It's just a fabulous track.

The rFactor 2 versions downright stunned me. You can tell that from this first look video.

The track is practically undriveable, at least in the sense of enjoying the experience. The car bounces down the road like it's on a pogo stick. Even the kerbs which are perfectly useable in the laser scanned iRacing version are absolute death traps.

That said, what's the reason for that?

I think it's pretty clear that this version is an rFactor 1 conversion. And the problem with that is the resolution of the track appears to me not to have been increased as is required by rFactor 2. It's a barebones conversion, and for it to be listed as an official track to me is not acceptable.

I don't mind the rFactor 1 look. Of course it would be ideal if it had been redone to the improved graphical standards of a Lime Rock or Sebring, but you can live with that. But in this state the track it is simply not an enjoyable or realistic track to drive.

[rFactor 2] Racing through the dust clouds at Montreal

The A.I. has a peculiar approach to Montreal.

I'm learning steadily about rFactor, on and off the track. Part of the off track learning is bits and pieces I discover about track conversions, their ups and downs, and how that affects the driving experience.

It seems to me that Montreal and Interlagos are both rFactor 1 conversions. It also seems to me that Interlagos hasn't had it's track "resolution", for want of a better word, increased to reflect improved rFactor 2's requirements.

In that respect Montreal is a better conversion. Montreal - and I could never bring myself to race with the A.I. at Interlagos as it's such a pain in the rear end to drive - has the failure of A.I. that appears never to have seen the track before.

It starts off badly. It doesn't have the faintest idea how to arrive on the grid. The cars are practically sideways when they start. After that it does improve. But it still kicks up plenty of dust as it drives around. You just have to write off its inability to stop in a straight line on the grid.

A.I. strength set to 100%, aggression at 50%. At 95% I was leading by about three seconds after 12 laps, and so for this, my second race, I increased their strength. You can draw your own conclusions from how much difficulty ramps up from my performance in the race.

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

[Assetto Corsa] BMW Z4 GT3 @ Spa

I have a confession to make.

I've had AC for quite a while, but haven't really done much with it. It looks good, but there's a distinct lack of slower open wheel cars. And I'm not a fan of hurtling around a track in a car I can barely control, much less race.

However, when I have looked at it, I've kind of enjoyed the BMW Z4. I say "kind of" because TrackIR was always a pain. I couldn't look around properly, to the point it felt like I had no knowledge of what was going on to either side of the car. Which is not good for close racing.

It didn't help that it took up so many resources that I would have to do a complete reboot whenever I wanted to look at it.

But it seems both those issues have now been fixed.

[Combat Mission] In the shadow of the hill 7am - setup

The third of the four scenarios covering Operation Jupiter and the attack on Hill 112 in July, 1944.

As 5 Dorsets consolidate their gains and exploit to the road network 4 Dorsets attack Eterville.

[Combat Mission] In the shadow of the hill 6am - turns 3

More turns from this scenario:

Monday, 5 October 2015

[rFactor 2] First look at Montreal

We're flipping the situation around here after Lime Rock. Now it's rFactor 2 with the older version of the track.

I do prefer the iRacing version. Much more runoff and less green suspicious stuff at track edge. The track is narrower here, and it has a vicious chicane at the end, which really cramps the car up.

But it does answer a question I've had for some time about the iRacing version. Quite often in a couple of areas of the track - across the start line towards turn 1 and the left hander before the hairpin - I've noticed drivers take a wide line. Having driven a little bit here I can see why. With the new layout I still think a tighter line is faster, but you can't get away with that here.

As far as the quality of the graphics ... where it loses out there it gains in frame rates. It's definitely a track that would benefit from an update as it does look dated. But it more than gets the job done.

It will be interesting to see how the two works in rFactor 2 down the long back straight, and how the A.I. handles the chicanes as well as the hairpin.

rFactor 2] First look at the Skip Barber National

It was only fair that I shared the experience of my first laps around Lime Rock in the National version of the Skip Barber.

What are my initial thoughts on it?

It definitely has a lot more grip mid corner, which is what you would expect, given that it uses slicks instead of the treaded tyres found on the Regional version. In simple terms that means it's a lot easier to push it through corners.

It certainly feels a lot closer to the iRacing version of the car, which leads me to believe that the version there is a hybrid between the two, if not the National version itself. As I recall the model uses treaded tyres, but I think that's misleading.

I found myself to be about two seconds up on the Regional, even after a small amount of time in the car, and the overall feel when pushing through corners was very similar to what I'm used to at iRacing. You can throw that car around in a way the Regional in rFactor 2 wouldn't stand for.

[rFactor 2] First race at Lime Rock Park in the Skip Barber

Well, the first race that's worth posting. Because it did take a while for me to get the hang of racing the A.I., and in all honesty, there's some way to go before I can consider myself at all proficient.

And here's the reason why. So far I haven't been able to pass a single A.I. driver. It's not that I'm not fast enough. In this race I qualified second, less than two hundredths behind pole. But in a race it's a case of having to put down that sort of pace lap after lap.

That's not easy in a 25 lap race.

Thursday, 1 October 2015

[Combat Mission] In the shadow of the hill - turns 2

As the morning continues, 5 Dorsets continue their advance during Operation Jupiter, the attack on Hill 112 in Normandy, July 1944.

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

[rFactor 2] Meet the A.I. at Lime Rock in the Skip Barber

I have a confession to make.

The Skip Barber has been a car I've put a vast amount of time into on iRacing. I've tried some of the other open wheel cars, and I've tried the tintops. But none of them had the feel of the Skippy.

The Radical came close. It felt like the Skip Barber, but with much more power, having much the same traits. But about five people drove the car whenever I looked at it, and I had no intention of turning up to donate rating to people that specialised in the car.

You may be thinking what does that have to do with rFactor 2?

Well, along with a bunch of other vehicles, it has the Skip Barber. And not just one, it has distinct Regional and National variations.

I wanted a single player experience. But I wanted to drive something familiar. And it had to be relatively slow. There's a tendency with driving titles to include the fastest cars around. That is fine for most, but there's something about that 120mph Skip Barber that appeals.

The first thing I needed to do was familiarise myself with the car in rFactor 2. There were always going to be differences between it and the iRacing version. In this video I discuss my early thoughts as I drive around a more up to date version of Lime Rock Park.

In the second video I touch on thoughts after a week with the title after the recent announcement on Steam, and after a new build which included stock car support. The video also includes exposure to the A.I. and you'll see me being passed by them.

I have yet to pass a single A.I. driver. I've qualified third at 95% A.I. strength, but so far a valid pass has been elusive - and I don't class passing a spinner as a proper pass.

That third place qualification lead into a 12th place finish in a 25 lap race. I was sure I'd left it in first after the formation lap but for the race I was apparently placed in neutral. That lead inevitably to being passed by most of the field at the start.

At that A.I. strength the race felt like an iRacing top split. I will need to drive right on the limit for every lap to be competitive. And that in itself is good practise. I need to work on my situational awareness but also on pushing that hard all race.

Expect at least one race video at Lime Rock before I move on to Montreal at the weekend.

[iRacing] A last hurrah around Motegi in the Skip Barber

As it has turned out, this was my final week at iRacing - at least for the forseeable future.

I couldn't resist having a last crack at the Skip Barber series there. The much heralded "new surface model" and Motegi.

While NSM was somewhat of a disappointment in practise - it really doesn't make much difference when race distances are generally very short and track condition doesn't seem to follow a race weekend principle - Motegi was a joy. I very much enjoyed the track.

The mid pack racing was still a knife fight in a telephone box from the lights, though.

I put in faster laps later, but this hotlap is a snapshot of the time I was starting to feel good around the track.

[Combat Mission] In the shadow of the hill setup and first turns

I have been remiss. A little later than planned here is the setup and the first set of turns for the Combat Mission : Battle for Normandy scenario In the Shadow of the Hill, 6am. This continues the Dorsets involvement in Operation Jupiter, the capture of Hill 112 in Normandy during July, 1944.

Sunday, 13 September 2015

iRacing Skip Barber working a track up at Twin Ring Motegi

Part of the reason for my doing this videos is to help myself. If others find them useful then that is a very good added bonus. I can only say for myself that videos like this would have helped with my development and enjoyment of the sim.

I approach this video with about 50 minutes of track time, so I'm still not completely familiar with the layout. At the end of this session I'm still short of a satisfactory time, but the foundations are there. At that point it's time to pick up on the practises outlined at Spa and work on refining markers and smoothing out the rough edges of the corners.

Combat Mission : Battle for Normandy - In the shadow of the hill 5am - turns 1

The first two hours of turns in this scenario, after some changes to the setup.

Monday, 31 August 2015

Combat Mission : Battle for Normandy - In the shadow of the hill 5am setup

This is the setup for a group of related scenarios covering part of Operation Jupiter - the recapture of Hill 112 by the 43rd (Wessex) Division.

Combat Mission : Battle for Normandy - Seven Winds turns 6

The last turns and map review for the Seven Winds scenario:

Friday, 21 August 2015

Mastering the GTR2 Porsche 911 GT3 testing at Barcelona

Here's the plan.

I feel that GTR2 is a much more difficult proposition than iRacing. It just feels more difficult, more demanding. I really do feel that the time I put into the Corvette C5r at Donington had a really positive effect on my driving when I went back to iRacing.

That said, I feel I'm at a point where I need to improve right at the tip of the driving curve, if there is such a thing. I need to find that little bit more proficiency, and with it that little bit of confidence that I'm lacking in certain situations.

The original plan was to tackle the Porsche Supercup mod with one race per week. I still expect to do that, but I feel doing that right off the bat will not help me, and it won't provide good Youtube videos, which is part of what I want to achieve. I want to make a watchable series of videos covering the race season.

To ease myself into that I've dropped back to the GT3 from the 997, and I'll be learning and hopefully mastering all the tracks in the Supercup mod's schedule as well as any others I find interesting. Then when I'm ready I'll do a 40 minute race with qualifying. That fits in with the Supercup rules.

To start out I'm testing at Barcelona. It's not a track I'm familiar with, but that's part of the process. I would normally be looking to test, practise, qualify and race in one week, but as it is I need to develop a reasonable setup, so the first race of this series of sorts will probably take place next weekend.

I must admit catching the AI has been challenging this week. I'm less than a second behind now, and I'm closing on a setup I'm content with, but I'm still quite a bit short of knowing where my right tyres are, and the car can be a little squirmy at times. Perhaps I can smooth that out a bit with setup work, but I have the feeling I need to continue feeling my way around the gas pedal with this car.

This is my best lap to date. It's clearly untidy with an off track and more sliding than I'd like, but I'm edging towards a decent level of car control.

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

iRacing Skip Barber Summit Point lap and thoughts

I like Summit Point. It's one of the first tracks where I felt I could actually compete at least with the times of the fastest drivers in the series. I was no longer a full second behind them, I was a few tenths short. And that makes a huge difference in terms of confidence.

The lap below is about half a second slower than the fastest time in pre-race week testing. I would have liked to have gained a tenth or two during the week, but that wasn't to be.

I entered two races, in the first of which I made a mistake going into turn three, which is a third gear left hander, exiting with a sand trap on the right. In attempting to go around a driver ahead for seventh position I touched the grass slightly at turn in while giving him room and span the car. You don't need to take much of the grass there to be turned around.

In the second race the driver behind attempted a pass in the same location, and it seemed to me he pushed across a little to the right on exit, forcing me into the sand.

I realised at that point that I'm not enjoying the race experience. I should be in top splits, there's no doubt about that. When you find yourself winning 1900 SOF races while feeling disappointed it's clear a greater challenge is required.

The problem I have with iRacing and the Skip Barber series is really twofold. First the damage model is seriously flawed. If you participate in the series you know how fragile the rear of the car is. In contrast the front wheels seem to be made of titanium. You will consistently see drivers being rear ended and having to pit with critical damage, while the other car continues without issues. That inevitably leads to a casual attitude towards hitting the car in front. What makes that even worse is the effect of the tow, and there is a widespread belief that the tow is exaggerated. In the past iRacing have stated that the tow is set up to encourage close racing.

The end result is that racing becomes dominated by the need to keep within the tow. You can be significantly slower than the driver ahead, but you can still be all over his gearbox due to the exaggerated aeorodynamic effect. And all it takes is one miscalculation of the effect the tow has on closing speeds to go into the back of the leading driver and essentially "take him out".

The only thing you can do is to drive out of your skin for lap after lap and hope you can somehow break the tow or just keep your nose in front. Even then a single mistake will cost you. And that is not the experience I'm looking for. I don't want to have to drive qualifying hotlaps for lap after lap, knowing the driver behind has nothing to lose by rear ending me, and everything to gain.

It doesn't help that the Skip Barber is the only car on iRacing that I enjoy. The other cars either understeer too much or they're too fast for me, or in the case of the Star Mazda, it just doesn't interest me.

As a consequence I'm stepping aside from iRacing for the time being. That does mean I'm losing out on at least a top three in my division for the season, but continuing to compete comes at the price of constantly waiting to be taken out of races, and I know I'm not the only one this season to have walked away from the series as a consequence.

Will I return? My subscription ends around the time of the "Black Friday" deals. I might renew at that time, I might wait until I see some progression in development. I know plenty is promised, but plenty of things have been promised for the last few years. I might just leave it until the Formula Renault 2.0 has been released, along with the new surface model, and hopefully an improved damage model. But for now other things excite me, and more on that soon.

Combat Mission : Battle for Normandy Seven Winds turns 2 and 3

More turns from the Combat Mission : Battle for Normandy Seven Winds scenario.

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

iRacing Skip Barber testing at Interlagos

Starting the race week with an early 1.51.8 lap at Interlagos in the Skip Barber. I've found perhaps another half a second so far this week, which is as fast as I'm going to get around here.

Combat Mission : Battle for Normandy - Seven Winds scenario setyp and first turns

A new scenario playthrough. This scenario is based on Operation Bluecoat, covering the flank of the American breakout from St.Lo.

Sunday, 2 August 2015

Working up a track example at Spa in the iRacing Skip Barber

They say "practise makes perfect", when what those that use that phrase really mean is "perfect practise makes perfect".

I spent a long time driving around without much of an idea what I was doing. I remember watching a video in which the main advice was simply to drive a certain number of laps within half a second of your personal best.

And that's fine, but it makes no reference whatsoever to whether you're actually doing it right. If your personal best is dead slow because you're driving the wrong line, or not hitting apexes, or you're entering corners too fast and therefore losing exit speeds, then all you're doing in putting those laps down is reinforcing bad habits.

As time went on I realised I needed to slow things down if I wanted to speed up. A large part of that is iSpeed telemetry analysis. But that's not all of the story. You need to be able to read a track.

I put in a couple of weeks solid at Laguna Seca, and along with a later week at Mosport, it reinforced the need to use markers, and to be consistent with use of markers.

In this video I re-familiarise myself with Spa, a place I'm reasonably familiar with already, but not a track I'm comfortable with. I demonstrate the method of analysing each corner, looking for markers as well as thinking just how to drive them. I try different things, I stop and think about individual corners, and I slow down when I realise I'm pushing too hard and not learning enough.

iRacing top split race at Suzuka in the Skip Barber

This was a race that didn't go at all smoothly. It didn't start well when I received notification that qualifying was about to end just as I was exiting Casio with a four tenths improvement on my time. In its simulated racing world iRacing deems that the timed end of the session is the end of the session with a very hard stop.

That left me starting in the middle of the field. The resultant race had incidents from the first corner almost to the last lap and is without doubt the most incident filled race I've been involved in. Not bad for a top split.

Monday, 20 July 2015

iRacing Skip Barber Suzuka testing

A new week, a new track.

Well, not so much a new track. I'm very familiar with Suzuka having won three starts there last season. But this time it will be much harder. Those wins were in second splits, and this week, unless I happen upon incredible SOF races, I will be in the top splits.

That means it's even more important than before to be on top of the track. At Oulton Park I was right up there on pace and that got me a second place finish in a 2600 SOF race. At VIR I was struggling for confidence, and ended with a sixth place from a lower SOF - beaten for fifth by a driver who had finished a few places down from me at Oulton.

I like Suzuka. It's challenging without being stupid. You don't have Hog Pen from VIR, or the Corkscrew from Laguna Seca. It does have Spoon, which is a tricky little corner requiring a lot of finesse and patience, but it's a controlled experience.

A 2.26.4 personal best with a 2.25.7 optimal clearly indicates a lack of consistency. With these long tracks I expect to be no more than five tenths off optimal. I did manage a 2.26.2, but caught a tiny off track at Degner 2 on exit.

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Testing at VIR in the iRacing Skip Barber

I really don't like this track. It doesn't matter what car I'm driving around here I never fell comfortable at VIR. It's race track in the middle of a huge golf course. And any slight mistake results in a bumpy ride across a fairway. I have no confidence to really push a car around here - in case I end up pushing it back onto the track.

Monday, 13 July 2015

iRacing Star Mazda testing at Brands Hatch

A little familiarisation and setup work at Brands Hatch in the Star Mazda.

Thankfully whatever settings I changed in iRacing now has the driver arms working. As you can see in this video it does look peculiar without it, but iRacing's settings are so obscure it's hard to know what does what.

Sunday, 5 July 2015

iRacing Oulton Park Skip Barber race

This is what it's all about. When people talk about the quality of racing in top splits at iRacing, this kind of thing is what they're referring to. Admittedly this was my second attempt to race here this week, having been taken out early on lap one, but having qualified second in this race the start was a much more civilised affair.

I had settled for a top five finish well before the end, with my main concern being staying in front of the fifth placed driver while at the same time trying to keep in touch with the driver ahead. But then late on the whole race opened up.

Sunday, 28 June 2015

iRacing Skip Barber Okayama Race

The second of two races this week at Okayama. While the race at Montreal was about what was in front of me, at Okayama my attention was frequently in my mirrors.

iRacing Oulton Park Fosters testing

I really do like Oulton Park. I'm not a huge fan of chicanes but when those are in use I can at least view them as a challenge. And I don't think I've ever viewed them as being as difficult as those at Montreal. The track surface is also really grippy.

After about two hours I was down to a 1.07.3 in testing. There are one or two corners I still have to work on, but generally speaking I'm quite satisfied with that, and I would have no real complaints if I can't improve during the week.

Monday, 22 June 2015

iRacing Skip Barber Montreal race

An eventful race at Montreal in the iRacing Skip Barber in a 1600 strength of field.

iRacing Skip Barber hotlap at Okayama

I've never quite understood why so many people feel Okayama is a particularly "slippery" track. I have never had all that much of an issue with that per se. I did have huge issues with the turn known as Revolver - the first left hander after the hairpin - for a long time. But that was really due to not slowing the car down enough at turn in. It's a delicate balance between slowing it down too much, and not enough. Overall it's a track I very much enjoy driving, and there's no point on a lap now that I feel unduly concerned. That's what happens when you put a lot of time into any track.

Saturday, 20 June 2015

iRacing Aston Martin slow lap at Watkins Glen

An early lap of Watkins Glen in the Aston Martin.

iRacing Skip Barber hotlap at Montreal

Here's a lap half a second under the listed fast time for the week. Who knows whether it's actually fast or not given the fact iRacing are monkeying around with things again, without much of a clue as to what they're trying to achieve, but here goes.

Saturday, 6 June 2015

iRacing Skip Barber 1.52.8 hotlap at Interlagos

I would have liked to have put in a 52.5 this week, but I seem to have run up against the edge of my talent. It's actually been interesting to compare my thoughts in my previous track notes video to the one I would have done this week were it not for the new build which may affect how the car is driven.

Friday, 5 June 2015

Combat Mission: Battle for Normandy - Loamshires last turns

The final two hours of turns for the Combat Mission: Battle for Normandy fictional scenario Loamshires.

Monday, 25 May 2015

GTR2 review and Corvette C5.r fifteen lap race at Donington Park

There's much to like about GTR2. Of course a title released in 2006 cannot compete with modern titles when it comes to graphics, but what it does do, and does well, is do old school simulation.

What struck me when reading the flimsy manual was how much there is in this title, compared to how little there is in that little booklet. Back when games were released with manuals that would now be sold seperately, if sold at all, GTR2 would have justified a couple of volumes, with a detailed tome on setup alone.

And GTR2 is definitely old school as soon as you max realism out to "simulation", which should be the very first thing that you do, because that's when the magic really comes to the fore with this title. In short, you need to think, and you need to be alive to what's going on around you.

No virtual mirror, no chatty spotter to keep you updated, no relative position box to keep you informed on gap, and whether the driver ahead is a lap down or if you're competing for position. You're going to have to look in the car's mirrors, and you're going to have to take note of the pit board that's put out at the end of every lap, which will tell you your position and the gap to the car ahead of you, and the car behind.

You're not even given lap time information. There is no tab for that listing every lap from the session, and your spotter will not call them out. You need to look at your car's LCD to discover your last time.

Time and weather features round out the experience. I have yet to experience lower light conditions, but there must be a very good reason headlights are modelled, and time can be set to advance in real time or faster. Driving in the rain is a real challenge, and even with wet tyres still something I have to properly explore. Even pit stops are modelled.

For the moment I'm preparing for a full eleven weekend championship series in the Corvette C5.r, with hour long races and pit stops, along with variable weather. The graphics might be dated, but it is going to be a fascinating and, I hope, enthralling experience.

Combat Mission: Battle for Normandy - Loamshires setup and first two hours of turns

Another Combat Mission: Battle for Normandy scenario. This is a fictional battle between two fictional units.

It's on a larger scale than I'm used to, moving up from the usual company level battles to battalion level, so there are many more units to control, and the scenario covers a longer time period, a little over an hour in total.

Saturday, 16 May 2015

First look at GTR2 with the Chevrolet Corvette at Donington

An old title perhaps, and in places showing its age, but full of features, and full of enjoyment, GTR2 is well worth a look - especially as it's now in the bargain basement bin on Steam.

The first thing that strikes you as you're rolling out of the garage, whatever the car you're in, is that GTR2 is old school. There's no grind here, at least in the sense of unlocking cars, tracks or upgrades. Whatever grind there is can simply be described as learning to drive the cars, and learning the tracks.

Here you get to choose your tyre compound, as well as making all manner of adjustments to the car. And those wet weather tyres have a purpose - it does rain in GTR2.

The comparison with iRacing is inevitable. Here is a ten year old title that has the aforementioned features. It might not look as good as iRacing, but that's not exactly state of the art, either. And rolling out of the garage feels so much better than spawning in pit lane.

The AI is daunting. The minimum setting is 100% difficulty, you can only go higher than that. And it is a fearsome prospect to hear the AI closing the distance behind you. It will catch you and seize upon any opportunity to pass.

Race setup is flexible, with many options available with regard to session types as well as weather.

At the moment I'm having more fun with this than iRacing. Perhaps that's at least partly because I'm in my own sandpit. There is no external pressure. But so far it's been a great experience, and one I'm sure to take a great deal from when it's time to return to the more competitive arena of iRacing.

Last turns Combat Mission: Battle for Normandy Sticking it Out

The last turns from the scenario:

Monday, 11 May 2015

More Combat Mission: Battle for Normandy Sticking it Out scenario turns

We're not quite at the end, but we're down to the last few turns after these. After events at the crossroads the defence of the eastern part of Buron continues.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Combat Mission: Battle for Normandy Sticking it Out first turns

I start with a confession in this video - the initial setup had one rather fatal flaw. Instead of plowing on regardless and enduring a hapless scenario I decided to switch a couple of things around, learning from the experience.

Monday, 4 May 2015

First look this week at Montreal in the iRacing Skip Barber

First day at a new track and a 1.56.4 in testing.

The irony is I'm still struggling with T1. It's ironic because it's probably the easiest corner on the track.

I put in quite a few laps no higher than third gear. That's the first time I've done that. Lap after lap, patiently looking at each corner, before really starting to push. The hairpin is such a crucial corner for times, and I feel like the penny is beginning to drop with it. The chicanes can still trip you up if you lose focus, but even with those I'm starting to really gain in confidence.

The next step will be to look at being more aggressive with the "sausage" kerbs - the raised white kerbing in the chicanes. The black scuff marks indicate areas you may attack, as long as you can handle unsettling the car in exchange for a time gain.

Monday, 27 April 2015

Combat Mission: Battle for Normandy Sticking it Out setup

As one scenario ends, another begins. And in this case this is almost the continuation of the last, because after capturing the eastern half of Buron we must now defend it against a counterattack.

The briefing is certainly accurate when it describes casualty levels sustained during the assault.

Testing at Mosport in the iRacing Skip Barber

It's - almost- the start of a new week. Almost because a new iRacing week doesn't start until Tuesday.

In this instance that means Mosport for the Skip Barber series next week. I feel like I have unfinished business at this track after missing out on two wins at my most recent visits in the Skip Barber and Ruf C-Spec. And more importantly I'm at a point where when I return to a track I can see the improvements I'm making.

For the first time I've driven there I'm much more conscious of what I'm trying to achieve through Moss Corner. That's the double apex corner at the start of the long back straight. I still haven't quite mastered it, or perfected it, but I'm faster and consistently so through there now.

At the start of weekend testing I was content with a 1.32.7. After looking at telemetry I could see where I was losing time, where my line was wrong in places, and surprisingly enough I pushed the time down and made good inroads into my optimal.

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Monday, 13 April 2015

Sunday, 12 April 2015

iRacing race at Sebring in the Skip Barber

The one and only race at Sebring this week. I was overdriving the car and as a consequence my lap times were becoming quite poor.

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Preparing for Sebring in the iRacing Skip Barber

This week is a drop week for me with the Skip Barber. Philip Island is one of a handful of tracks I don't own. As a consequence I'm putting in extra time to prepare for Sebring next week. That's a track I bought last season, so I have a small amount of time there. That did give me pole and a second place finish last season, so hopefully this added preparation will stand me in good stead for next week.

I was actually about to hit a 2.27 time, which has been my goal, until I dropped 0.25 in the last corner. It's the one part of the track that I feel I really struggle. I just can't seem to hit the correct line with any kind of consistency. I have a feeling I know what I should be doing there, but getting it right is the hard part. But for now a 2.28.0 is a pretty solid time.

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Combat Mission: Battle for Normandy Main Event setup

The start of a new series of videos on the Combat Mission: Battle for Normandy title, this time fetauring the scenario The Main Event, which covers the initial attack on the village of Buron by the Highland Light Infantry of Canada, with the 12th SS Hitlerjugend defending.

The first video covers the briefing and initial setup.

Combat Mission Battle for Normandy Keep Calm & Carry On Turns 7

The final turns for this unexpectedly long series of videos.

Sunday, 29 March 2015

iRacing Skip Barber race at Lime Rock Park

There are those that really dislike this track. Perhaps sometimes because it's so short, but also because as it's a base track we've all driven it a million times. But I can't help but enjoy driving here, even if it's now become a real struggle to find hundredths here and there to push my time down to within the really fast margins.

This is the one race I did this week. I would normally do more, but for a variety of reasons I chose to limit myself to this first venture.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Combat Mission Battle for Normandy Keep Calm & Carry On Turns 6

Almost right at the end of the scenario, with just a turn or two to go after these.

Finding pace at Lime Rock in the iRacing Skip Barber

Improvement can sometimes seem elusive. You work on something for days, weeks, perhaps months, and there may be moments when it seems like you're making no progress at all.

That feeling also applies to sim racing. I have driven countless laps at Lime Rock in the Skip Barber. If you were to count up the laps in total across all tracks I've put in, Lime Rock Park would soar ahead at the top of the list.

The Skip Barber series is back at the track after a relatively long absence. Previously I think I've reached a pretty good level at most parts of the track, but turns five and six have caused issues; with turn five I haven't been hard enough early enough on the throttle, and at turn six I've been inconsistent with exit speed.

As I've returned here I've put in practise the thoughts I've had on markers, and that has certainly helped. It helps not only in being more consistent around the track, but it gives me more confidence to attack corners. Consequently while I'm still refining markers at those two turns I'm now right on the shoulders of some of the fastest drivers in the series.

Friday, 20 March 2015

A contentious moment from Suzuka in the iRacing Skip Barber

Here's something a little contentious.

I actually don't have a problem with my driving here. I'm the leader and my intentions are to block up the inside line into turn one. The fact is if you're beaten to the inside line there you've lost the position. The trailing driver complained that I didn't leave him room. Well, no I didn't. Because if I had he would have gained the lead, and I'm not in the business of handing the lead over like that.

But, judge for yourselves. What would you have done?

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Don't you love it when a plan comes together?

This has been the week in iRacing where it has all come together.

You might argue that the three races I entered this week were all "low strength of field". What that simply means is when the race entrants split into seperate fields by rating I fell into the lower rated split. But even with that caveat I won all three races quite comfortably.

That's not simply bragging. I know why I won those races. I put the time in during the pre season week at Suzuka and put down a solid fast time. And I worked all through every session I entered to find not just time but consistency through better use of markers. And I practised starts. Over and over again I practised the opening lap.

And all that hard work paid off.

Now I have my rating back up to about 1450 and with a good week at Lime Rock next week I might be knocking firmly on the door of the 1650 I peaked at previously. Then I can build over the rest of the season to reach 2000.

Work resumes this Sunday at Lime Rock - including practising starts.

iRacing Skip Barber Suzuka Race

The first race of the week at Suzuka in the iRacing Skip Barber.

Combat Mission Battle for Normandy Keep Calm and Carry On TURNS 4

More turns for the Combat Mission Battle for Normandy scenario Keep Calm and Carry On.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

iRacing 15S1 Skip Barber Interlagos race

A start from pole position becomes a fight for first that has twists and turns right up until the finish.

Monday, 16 March 2015

iRacing Skip Barber Suzuka track notes

I'm still working on the turns at Suzuka, or more to the point I'm refining them. I have my optimal down to a 2.26.2 but consistency is eluding me so far. We're almost upon the first races so with the basics down for a fast lap I've put together the track notes for the circuit.

It's very much a challenging track, but here and there I see hints of my having mastered it. That might have to wait until next season - assuming it's on the schedule again - but each session gets me closer to the end goal of a fast time right at the sharp end.

Combat Mission Keep Calm & Carry On turns

The turns keep coming for the Combat Mission Battle for Normandy scenario, Keep Calm and Carry On.

Friday, 13 March 2015

iRacing Skip Barber Suzuka 2.26.9 hotlap

With the ceiling for a fast time adjusted upwards for the week I appear to have already been in the fast bracket. That makes it all the more sweet that I pushed my personal best down to a 2.26.9. I'm more than happy with that, and I'm not expecting to improve upon it before the end of next week.

It hasn't been easy. I find it to be a really challenging track which asks a lot of varied as well as difficult questions. And any track over two minutes in length is a test of consistency and concentration. It's very easy to not quite have the car rotated quite how it needs to be to maintain that hundredth or so you're up on the sector time.

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

iRacing Skip Barber pre season at Suzuka

I have never driven Suzuka all that well. I could itemise each and every corner and explain how poorly I have executed them. The only question would be which corner I have driven the worst.

So now is a good time to put my new analytical sense to good use and prepare for the forthcoming season.

Of course we don't know the weather for the first week. That's just one of the "quirks" for wont of a better word that iRacing has. As soon as the season starts we'll know the weather for each and every week; we're just not allowed to know what it will be for week one.

That said, we're all out there putting times down with the default weather.

I'm reasonably satisfied with how it's gone so far after about two hours of testing, but I need to find a second before Tuesday and my first race. I need to be on the ball before experiencing my first combined qualifying and race session.

Monday, 2 March 2015

Combat Mission Normandy Keep Calm first turns

Here is the second part of the Combat Mission scenario, Keep Calm & Carry On. It covered the first few turns and as such is a little lacking in action, but I explain my motivations in the unfolding first few minutes.

iRaicng Skip Barber Interlagos week start

I've been going back to basics since Mosport, thinking about markers, and remaining calm and analytical lap after lap regardless of frustrations. It's so easy to become frustrated and lose focus, when what you really need to do when things aren't going right is to ask yourself why that's he case.

That approach - and it's something I started a long time ago but kept deviating from - worked very well at Summit Point when I was within half a second of the very, very fast drivers.

For the last two weekends I put sessions in at Interlagos. In the first perhaps one and a half hour session I got my time down to 1.52.5. That was one and a half seconds slower than the fastest time in iSpeed. That's actually a good benchmark so early on as the driver is very fast indeed.

This last weekend I put in another two hours of testing. I had my optimal down to 1.51.5 but couldn't quite break through into the 51's for my personal best. That in itself was becoming frustrating and I was starting to think I would need to return to the quest another time. Then right at the end I achieved my goal.

There are plenty of mistakes in the lap, but these are details to iron out. Perhaps not this week as I'll be thinking more in terms of qualifying and racing, but next season when we're back here in the Skip Barber I might just have the technique to close the gap on the top drivers still further.

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Combat Mission Normandy Keep Calm Setup

I was there at the birth of the Combat Mission series of games. I was one of those fortunate enough to have played the initial demo for CMBO a million and one times. In fact I can still recall the thrill of encountering the game system, even with the flaws inherent in that early incarnation. It had a magic about it that few titles have.

Around sixteen years later I'm looking up a fairly old title in the CMx2 series. Combat Mission : Battle for Normandy. As the nomclature suggests, this is the second iteration of the game engine, which now features a more in depth representation of forces on the map, and allows for real time play as well as the ground breaking turn based system - WEGO - utilised in the first titles.

I have the base game patched to 3.0, and the Commonwealth module is installed.

What I'm going to be doing here is play through a scenario I have never looked at before. It could all end badly, or it could be a wonderful success. At this point your guess is as good as mine. The first video includes the briefing notes as well as my setup. As such there is no real action to speak of, but hopefully by the end of the video you will have a clear overview of the task at hand and how I intend to approach it.

Sunday, 15 February 2015

iRacing Skip Barber Summit Point Raceway 1.21.2 reference

More for my own use than anything else I've added a reference lap for the 1.21.2 I did earlier in the week. There are always a few nuances that come out during the week and these are the things that tend to get lost after an amount of time has passed. These videos help to remind me of such things.

Friday, 13 February 2015

iRacing highs and lows at Summit Point in the Skip Barber

The highs and lows of iRacing in one evening.

I started the week with a time of 1.21.8. At the time that was two tenths over a fast time. I was quite content with that, but I knew I could go faster. During the week I've worked on turn one, and the carousel section, which is where I've lost most time.

I could have walked away from the week very pleased with a 1.21.5 as that would have been comfortably inside a fast time. But while practising before the weekly race I actually put in a 1.21.2.

That lap puts me right up there with the fast drivers. Not the drivers that are at the really sharp end of fast, but at least in the middle bracket. Which is a very healthy place to be.

And then came the race. I compromise turn eight in order to maximise turn nine for the straight down to turn ten. I don't think that line should be any surprise to anyone that has put a reasonable amount of laps in at Summit Point. And I certainly wasn't expecting this:

The driver making contact is in a hurry. This is lap one of a nineteen lap race. He had forced his way past the driver third on the grid and was evidently keen to win as many positions as possible on the first lap. There is no way that move was going to end well, but it might just be that he runs enough races for it not to matter. He can just try again in another hour. But for me that's the one and only race of the week.

The sad fact is that people are making boneheaded moves and then expecting - not hoping for - the driver ahead to rescue them. He wanted me to see him making the move down my inside and "give him space". He's nowhere near alongside, and this is a fast paces high input section of track. I can't manage my own race and his at the same time.

Disappointingly this is a relatively high SOF race for me. I was rated second lowest driver, so a good finish would have cemented me at this level. Instead I was taking out by a driver some distance above the SOF, and while he will still be in top half splits next week, I expect to be back in the bottom half.

Sunday, 8 February 2015

iRacing Skip Barber testing at Summit Point

We're back at Summit Point. I would put this second to Lime Rock in the pantheon of classic Skip Barber tracks, simply because, as base content, it's a track everyone should be familiar with. At this point I'm quite content with a time of 1.21.8. It might not qualify as a fast time for the week, but I feel I've improved in the early corners, and I'm becoming much more analytical about my driving in general.

iRacing Skip Barber Montreal race

There can be few experiences more testing in sim racing than leading at Montreal. Starting from pole you know one small mistake can end your race in a chicane exit. Or rather the wall at the exit of a chicane.

Apart from the dreadful pace I put in - two seconds slower than it should have been - I'm satisfied with the result. I really should be happier with it than I am, but not driving as I should have bothers me. I need to put in the same level of performance in races that I do not only in practise, but also in qualifying.

Thursday, 5 February 2015

iRacing Skip Barber 1.56.8 hotlap at Montreal

Montreal has always been a particular challenge for me. Essentially it's a series of chicanes joined by a hairpin, and those just happen to be all the corners I struggle with the most. That being the case I'm quite satisfied with my best of 1.56.8 for the week - a couple of tenths short of a fast time.

iRacing Skip Barber race at Donington Park

This was my second attempt at a race at this track. I made a mess of the first corner in the first race, so I thought I'd jump straight back in and see if I could do better.

This is a very uncomplicated track. The most complex it becomes is the last turn - a chicane. But other than that it has a good flow, though passing can be problematic, even with lapped drivers.

Friday, 30 January 2015

iRacing Donington Park National hotlap

This is a great combination. The track has a really good flow to it, with lots of elevation changes, and it asks a lot of interesting questions.

I was actually surprised with my progression here this week, as it's a new track for me. In the end I'm about a tenth from a fast time. And I can easily identify areas that can be improved.

Thursday, 22 January 2015

iRacing reference lap in the Ruf C-Spec at Summit Point

I put a reference lap together at Summit Point at the start of the week there. That turned out to be the highlight of the week as when traffic appeared on the track it felt far too cramped and I just couldn't repeat or sustain that rhythm.

I got the race in for my participation credits, but other than that it was a bit of a disaster.

The problem for me was that the car has just so much understeer, that for me made it a less than enjoyable track to drive in traffic on. I have to try to find how to loosen it up, but that's a real struggle for me at the moment.

I've had a pretty decent week at Sebring in the Skip Barber having just purchased the track, so the plan is to return to the C-Spec for a race on the 31st. In the meantime I have Donington to learn in the Skippy.

Thursday, 8 January 2015

iRacing and no luck while leading races at Mosport

Two races with good leads so far this calendar year, two other drivers ... and two terminal trips back to the pits. Those bottom split drivers.

Sunday, 4 January 2015

iRacing GT3 race at Interlagos

The iRacing GT3 series is something you hear about long before you enter a race. I entered the series this season purely on the basis of earning participation credits, but after this race I see there's a lot I can learn from these races. In particular the use of defensive lines.

I won't spoil the viewing by stating that it wasn't at all my most satisfactory of performances, but it certainly had plenty of incidents.