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.