Denis Valjean is one focused sim-racer. How focused? The last time he drove – let alone raced – a car other than his Star Mazda was back in early May when he practiced in the Lotus 79 at Oulton Park. Since then he’s focused exclusively on the Star Mazda . . . to good effect. Valjean scored 26 wins from 41 starts to capture the 2013 Season 2 iRacing.com Star Mazda Championship. It’s a good thing, too. The 33 year old from Tattoine, Brazil needed every one of those wins, every one of his 33 top five finishes, to best Jorge Maenen for the title by just 29 points (1497-1468).
Not that it was his first championship. Valjean has been winning sim-racing titles since 2009 (SRB League GTR2 and Mini Challenge). . . then there was that P2 in the D7 NASCAR Class C Time Trials competition in 2011. But while he has eight oval wins in 75 starts to his credit, his road racing winning percentage is (83 of 298) is rather better. What’s that about focus?
Q: How long have you been sim-racing?
A: I started simracing playing Indycar Racing I, from Papyrus at 1996 with an airplane joystick. Online sim-racing with a decent steering wheel only in 2007, with GTR 2 from Simbim.
Q: What attracted you to iRacing?
A: The structure, organization and the simulator’s quality. The iRating and safety rating system proved successful, separating drivers according their skill and avoiding people who just want to mess-up with other driver’s fun.
Q: What are favorite iRacing cars/tracks?
A: Cars: Star Mazda and F1. Tracks: Spa, Suzuka, Road America and Interlagos.
Q: What do you like most about iRacing?
A: All the structure, leagues, irating and safety rating system, support to many peripherals and constant sim updates.
Q: What would you change about iRacing?
A: Well, talking generally, I would speed up the updates (I know its not easy) and add sim/website translations for people who don’t understand English (believe this would bring more drivers too). Every time I can, I go to the foruns to add suggestions to iRacing’s staff.
Q: How many hours a week do you spend on iRacing?
A: It depends on my job and if I am training/running a championship. So it goes from 0 hour a week to 30 hours a week. I was one year away from service due working reasons.
Q: Tell us about the paint schemes on your helmet/car(s).
A: The car scheme was a “gift” from my Team Manager Marcel Fachini (Fachini Racing Team). The helmet I am using is a tribute to my two dogs that died recently. I love dogs so it was really a painful feeling when lost them. And looking the helmet closer, it’s clear I need to improve my photoshop skills.
Q: What other sim racing activities (Forza, Gran Turismo, etc.) do you do?
A: Nowadays I am playing Game Stock Car, from Reiza Studios, Project Cars and rFactor 2. I try to test every sim I can.
Q: What are your favorite video games?
A: I love video games. Play since Atari, but today I have no console at home. I guess pc is a better platform now. Apart from racing games/sims, I am playing Batman Arkan City and Tomb Raider. I like shooter games too.
“As soon as noticed I was going fast and focused to race the right SOF races, I was able to win every one of them.”
Q: Do you do any real world racing? Has iRacing been of any benefit?
A: I used to do some go karting races with friends, but had to stop because I live too far away from the closest kart track. This happened before I get into iRacing, but I am sure that my previous simracing experience helped a lot, because was fourth in my first race and first in the second. Was invited to join a championship and was in first before I had to stop.
Q: What is your most memorable iRacing moment?
A: Winning the Star Mazda Championship, for sure. I was way down below in the championship table, but as soon as noticed I was going fast and focused to race the right SOF races, I was able to win every one of them. I really did not expect such a good performance.
Q: What is the iRacing moment you’d love to forget?
A: The last Intel GP finals, with the HPD. I was qualified for the final but my connection dropped and I was not able to race after a lot of training. Frustrating.
Q: What car/track would you like to see iRacing add to the service?
A: Cars: F1 from turbo-charged age, go kart. Tracks: Nordschleife (easy to scan), all other F1 tracks and Circuit de la Sarthe.
Q: What person, living or dead do you most admire?
A: My mother and my wife.
Q: What’s your favorite real world racing series?
A: Formula One championship.
Q: Name the title of the most recent book you read.
A: The Five People you Meet in Heavenby Mitch Albom.
Q: Name of your favorite movie/TV show?
A: Star Wars.
Q: How many of your close friends are iRacing members?
A: Some of them, I guess five.
Q: Has competing with iRacers all around the world influenced your opinions/outlook on life/world events? How?
A: As long as you meet lots of people from all around the world, you realize they have different ways of life, but, in fact, we are all the same, no matter where you come from, your skin color, the language you speak. The most important is respect everybody, celebrate the wins and accept the losses.