With the 2010 Season 3 build, iRacing unveiled a new transmission model that introduces a much higher level of realism to the online racing mix in terms of shifting options. Previously, clicking out of a gear or into another gear would instantly do just that – regardless of whether or not such a gear change would actually be physically possible. The new transmission model changes that by properly modeling fully-automated sequential, dog-box sequential with throttle cut, dog-box sequential, dog-box h-pattern, and synchromesh h-pattern transmissions depending on the car type and the transmission type associated with the car in real life.
This sounds great, but what does the new transmission model really do, and how do these changes affect the cars in iRacing?
According to the Season 3 release notes, when you shift using the new transmission model your shifting inputs tell the sim what you’re trying to do, and the sim tries to do what you ask – the sim no longer instantly just shifts. Now your shifting inputs are essentially telling the sim that you are pushing or pulling on the shift lever, and the transmission model will attempt to execute your command based on the in-game factors including the throttle and clutch inputs. You also might have to hold the shift control for little while as the shift goes through to completion before releasing – this means that missed shifts are now a reality because if you let go too early the sim will interpret that as you letting go of the shift before the shift completes, and you can be left hanging in neutral.
The release notes indicate these changes will likely require a period of adjustment; you are also encouraged to employ the auto-clutch and auto-blip shift aids when you need reliable shifting while you’re still trying to get a feel for the new transmission model with lower levels of aids in practice and testing.
The following is a list of all the current iRacing cars, together with the type of transmission they are modeling so you know what style of shifting you will want to use with each:
Fully automated sequential:
– Jetta TDI
Dog-box sequential with throttle cut:
– Corvette C6R
– Ford V8SC
– Radical SR8
– Riley DP
– Star Mazda
– Legends Ford34C
– Skip Barber
– Impala A
– Impala B
– Lotus 79
– Silver Crown
– SK Modified
– Mustang FR500S
– Spec Racer Ford
The Season 3 build release notes also include the following details as “key points”:
– If you are struggling to adapt to shifting with no shift aids, don’t be afraid to turn on the auto-clutch shift aid and perhaps even the auto-blip shift aid for important sessions where you need reliable shifting. Like any physical activity you may have been doing for a long time, it can take a while to unlearn your old muscle memory habits and learn new ones.
– Sequential cars will not allow the use of h-pattern controls, like the Jetta has been doing for awhile.
– Remember to think “press and hold” for sequential shift buttons until the shift is complete; it’s not just “click”.
– Practice your timing so you press and hold the shift button before you blip on downshifts or lift on downshifts.
What Does The New Transmission Model Mean For The Average iRacer?
This is all great stuff, but if you’re relatively new to iRacing – or even if you’ve been around for a while now – what does this new transmission model really mean, and how is this going to impact you, your driving style, and your overall iRacing experience?
If you’ve spent big money on a wheel and pedal set that has a third pedal for the clutch and an H-pattern shifter to go with the shift paddles, what do you do? When should you use the paddles versus the H-pattern shifter, and do you have to start using the clutch and – even more daunting for some – learn how to do proper heel-and-toe shifting techniques?
The answer to all of this is it depends.
With the new transmission model in-place you have new shifting options, but the key here is the word option. Despite the new transmission model, you are not required to use a clutch pedal, which is obviously good news for folks with two-pedal setups. The “Auto-clutch” feature is still available to handle the clutch actuation automatically, and you can also still choose the “Auto-blip” function so you don’t have to worry about lifting/blipping the throttle to upshift or downshift. In fact, with both “Auto-clutch” and “Auto-blip” enabled, you are essentially still using the old transmission model. The only drawback is that you might see slightly slower lap times depending on which options you use. However, we’re only talking about tenths of a second, which means you’re not likely to notice much difference either way.
Having the option to choose more realistic shifting may seem enticing – if you have a clutch pedal at your disposal, you might feel downright compelled to use it now that the new transmission model is here. You need to remember, though — just because it’s there doesn’t mean you have to use it. If you give it a try and find that it just doesn’t work for you, there’s no shame in continuing to use the “Auto-clutch” feature – guys (or gals) with larger feet may find that using the clutch is difficult, and people who are used to left-foot braking may find it extremely difficult to adapt to right-foot braking in order to free up the left foot for the clutch pedal.
Trying to learn how to use the new transmission model may seem a bit frustrating, and continuing to use the “Auto-clutch” and/or “Auto-blip” features might feel like “cheating,” or maybe like a personal failure, but consider things from your fellow racers’ perspective. Or, if you’re new to iRacing, the use of “driving aids” like “Auto-clutch” and/or “Auto-blip” might seem excessively unrealistic, but as far as I’m concerned, I would much rather have you racing alongside me in a SAFE manner first, then once you’ve become comfortable and familiar with iRacing as a whole, start learning the more difficult nuances (this goes for both long-term iRacers and newer members as well).
Safety first at all times.
If you’re a new iRacing member, you need to remember that learning the cars and tracks and how to clutch and how to blip and how to shift ALL at the same time means that you’re going to be more likely to get frustrated and suffer from early burn-out. It also means you’re more likely to cause problems for others more often during your learning curve. If you’ve been around for a long time and you’re familiar with the cars and tracks and you finally want to learn how to clutch and use heel-and-toe techniques, make sure you learn how to incorporate all of this into your technique before you try to bring it all together in race conditions.
Go with what feels comfortable first, then move to the next level.
New iRacers should focus on mastering Lime Rock and Laguna Seca, along with the Solstice . . . do some laps and get comfortable using whatever works best for YOU. Then, once YOU feel like you’re ready to go to the next level, add something else to the mix. The same goes for you long-time iRacers – add things to the mix as you feel ready to take on something else, and then spend the time to become somewhat proficient before you try using it in race conditions.
More than likely, new iRacers are going to be more interested in learning a new track or taking on a new car than how to use proper heel-and-toe technique, and that’s fine — this is supposed to be fun, first and foremost. If you’re a long-time iRacer and you just can’t get heel-and-toe techniques to work for you, then don’t feel compelled to do it just because you have a third pedal that you’re not using. If you’re not having fun, you’re going to get burned-out, and that’s not good.
Unless you’re a club racer in real life, or unless you want to become competitive in the semi-pro or grassroots levels of racing in the real world, you need to first concentrate on what makes iRacing work for you. Go with what works, and have fun.
Having a third pedal and an H-shifter doesn’t mean that you HAVE to use them to have fun — you only HAVE to use them if using them makes it more fun for YOU.
When you’re on-track with me, I’m way more concerned about seeing you put in a safe, clean race — if I have Auto-blip disabled and you’re using auto-everything, that won’t matter one bit to me (or to anybody else) if you happen to carelessly slam into me (or someone else) and then take out half the field on Lap One. I’d much rather see you beat me using Auto-clutch and Auto-blip, than crash me out while trying to master your new H-pattern shifter and your heel-and-toe technique.
The “right” thing to do is to have fun and be safe — concentrate on being a safe racer, and concentrate on not ruining things for yourself or for others.
THOSE are the important things that a rookie – and long-time iRacers alike – should be concentrating on.
The rest is just window dressing. Just my $0.02 worth . . .
FWIW, I have a TSW2 wheel with a sequential shifter and a 2-pedal setup (no clutch). I run with auto-clutch enabled, auto-blip dis- abled, and I use sequential shifting. If that causes me to sacrifice some “street cred” with my fellow iRacers, that’s okay with me — I love my hardware as-is, and although I may someday upgrade my pedal set to include a clutch pedal, what I’m using is fine for now, and at the end of the day, the iRacing stats are really all that matters (and even that doesn’t matter that much, to be honest).
It’s all about the racing, IMO, and if you’re not having fun, you’re not going to keep doing it for very long (and I think iRacing would like to keep you around as a paying customer for as long as possible, so do what works best for you).
The transmission model is available to help enhance the realism, but it is optional. If you want to use it, and if it makes things more realistic for you, if it adds to the immersion, that’s great – go ahead and use it. If you find that right-foot braking is too much of a chore, if you find that your feet are just too big to try to learn heel-and-toe with the pedal set you have, the don’t worry about it – it’s all about the racing, so choose what works for you, go race, be safe, and have fun.
That’s the real magic of the new transmission model – options for everyone.