I Have Signed Up For iRacing Now What?
Once you have taken the plunge and signed up for iRacing no matter what previous experience you have had online or offline playing racing sims, you will be put into the rookie class. In the rookie class you will be greeted with three types of driver:
- The good driver that drives a consistent line, pace and is courteous to other drivers giving racing room
- The learner driver that is finding their feet when it comes to simulation racing who are inclined to making mistakes
- The bad driver that just thinks iRacing is an arcade game and tries to win races into the first corner and is disrespectful to other drivers
The best tip I can give for getting out of the rookie class is to drive nice and consistent do not push too hard as winning doesn't achieve anything at this level. The main focus should be to increase your safety rating above 3.0 which will qualify you for a class D license. Starting from the pit lane or not qualifying for rookie races will put you at the rear of the field so you can avoid the trouble that occurs on the opening laps of a race.
At some point as within all modes of motor racing someone is going to hit you and you will hit someone. Don't get mad (I know it's hard not too) head to the pits get your free repair (Rookie and Class D get one free repair) this might not fix everything but at least the car will be drivable. Then make sure you finish the race, this will boost your safety rating (SR) which I will talk about in the next section. Basically the more corners you complete without incident the bigger increase to your SR.
Don't be alarmed if there are guys seconds a lap faster than you, with practice and using some of the tools available online you will get faster.
SR, IR and Splits Explained
Unlike public server racing, iRacing prides itself on good clean racing and a more friendly atmosphere than public servers. iRacing has a protest system to report bad behaviour from poor driving standards to bad language over chat and voice. It's a good system so please use it. The more people use that use the system the standard of driving and the quality of the people racing will continue to improve.
Safety rating or SR as it is known is the primary way that iRacing promotes you to the various licence classes. You start off in the rookie class and once your SR goes beyond 3.0 you will be promoted to class D automatically. Each license class qualifies you for various competitions and different cars. At the end of each 12 week season if your SR is above 3.0 you will be promoted to the next class. So how do you increase the SR you say. iRacing calculates the SR by how many incidents per corner you get. So the more corners and laps you complete without causing an incident the more SR you will accumulate. When racing official races there is normally an incident cap at x17 after which you will be black flagged from the race. Incident points are as follows:
•Cutting the circuit x1
•Loss of control (spinning) x2
•Minor contact x2 doesn't matter if you cause the contact or not both drivers will get the penalty
•Major contact x4 doesn't matt if you cause the contact or not both drivers will get the penalty
It seems harsh how the contact penalty points are handed out but it works out fair for both drivers as it is too hard for the sim to work out who is at fault.
iRating or IR as it is know is the rating you get depending on your finish position and the strength of the field for your given split (i will go into splits in the next paragraph). So essentially the higher up you finish the races the more IR you will accumulate which will put you into different divisions and splits. It is iRacing's way of trying to group drivers of similar skill together and make for a more even and enjoyable racing experience.
Lets say the race you have entered in has a grid of 20 cars but 60 cars register? how does iRacing handle that you ask. This is were splits and IR come into it. iRacing will divide the racers into 3 splits with the top 20 IR drivers in the first split, the next 20 in the second and the rest into the third. This is also known as a strength of field event or SOF this is the best chance you will have of being grouped with similar drivers and a good chance of earning some good IR.
iRacing Licences and Promotions
iRacing Licences come in 5 grades and a set of licences for Road, Oval and at some stage dirt will have it's own license class. The licences start at rookie and go through D,C,B,A and if you feature in the top few percent in iRacing you can qualify for a pro license.
When your safety rating goes above 3.0 in rookie class you will automatically get promoted into class D. Once in class D if you will need to compete in a number of races during the 12 week season. If your safety rating is between 3.0 and 4.0 you will qualify for the next license after the 12 week season. If your safety rating hits the 4.0 mark during a season you will be automatically promoted to the next class. At some stage you will see some dramatic increases and decreases in your safety rating with a question mark next to the rating. Don't be alarmed iRacing will increase and decrease your ration by .4 to stop yo-yoing between different promotion levels.
What iRacing Series Should I Drive In?
Oval Racing - With the oval series you will start out in rookies and they drive in the street stock. The best piece of advice I can give is to sit at the back of the pack and just cruise around and avoid any trouble. Accidents and stupidity happen here all the time. Once promoted from rookies and if you like short track action than racing the legends, late model or super late model are the best way to go as they offer good clean racing and are a lot of fun to drive. If you like the super speedway side of things you'll be looking at a class A license to drive the Cup cars and Indy car. The Indy car is awesome as it's the best oval and open wheel road car in my opinion.
Road Racing - If road racing is your thing you'll start off as a rookie in the Mazda Cup and from there you'll have a choice from doing open wheelers in the Skip Barber which is very popular amongst racers even with class A licenses. So from an open wheel perspective you can go Skip Barber > Star Mazda/Renault Cup > Indy > F1. From a Tin Top point of view most drivers look to move into the GT3 class which is very popular. The best way to get there is to go MX5 > Caddy > Porsche Cup > GT3. Before you go off purchasing cars and tracks make sure that the times that the races run fit in with your schedule. Not all races run on the hour and not all races will have the minimum 8 drivers to make the race go official. Best place to get information is to check out the forums for the individual series and find out when the best participation times are and work towards that. To save money only purchase the car you want to race and buy the tracks needed for each season so you can get the bulk buy discount.
iRacing Race craft
Early on in your iRacing career you will want to beat everyone and pull off passes left right and centre. Doing this will make your more of a Maldonado and not a Hamilton. Driving in an overly aggressive manner tends to result in a lower iRating and safety rating and you won't progress through the ranks. The best bet is too be patient (I know that can be hard) sit in behind the driver look for a weakness or an area in which you can improve maximise the opportunity and make that great overtake. Remember being patient and putting the driver in front under pressure can lead to the driver making a mistake and easy overtaking opportunity can present itself. This will lead to higher iRating and safety rating and good progression into better splits and racing.
Why Am I Seconds Off The Pace
This happens to all of us when we are a starting out and can still happen from time to time when racing. First things first there are some really quick drivers out there that can post lap time that are out of this world, we call these drivers Aliens plus some other words that are not as nice. There are tips and tricks that can be used which can help you go faster and get the most from running practice sessions smarter and not harder. One of the best tools out there is an app called iSpeed this tool allows you to compare your lap times against a database of other drivers that use iSpeed. With this tool it is easy to see what lines, braking points and gear that the faster drivers are using which can help shave a good amount of time from your laps.
iAnaylze Racing is another quality too which you need to pay for on a subscription based plan. This tool is very similar to iSpeed but can compare times from drivers in a session that is already running plus lap times from a database of iAnaylze racers. The app also has built in voice command functionality which allows you to use voice commands for doing pitstops plus others and a pit stall countdown so you don't over run your pit stall.
Virtual Racing School is again similar to the others but with key differences. You can sign up for data packs which consist of setups, replay files and ghost cars that come from some of the leading iRacing drivers.
With the use of these tools you can shave off seconds from your lap times or at the very least can help identify key sectors were you are losing time so you can practise the lines and braking points to help reduce your lap times.
This iRacing guide will be updated constantly with more iRacing tips for beginners and iRacing tips and tricks so that we can all get the most from this online racing simulator.