When Apex Racing UK were formed in June 2012 their sole aim from the outset was to be participating in the iRacing World Championship Grand Prix Series, a task which is by no means easy; but a task which they were able to conquer and since doing so they have been ever present with drivers in the series since 2013. Now in 2015 the team is still going on strong with a host of new faces ready to represent them in the up and coming Pro series, whilst many faces from their inaugural WCS season are still competing at the highest level to this date. As well as competing at the top level ARUK provide the Apex Academy for drivers of any level to join. I spoke to some of my fellow teammates to ask them a few questions for iRacing News where you can get to know a few of the Apex Racing UK (Pro & WCS) drivers a bit better.
AS: Alex Simpson. AH: Antoine Higelin. SJ: Sebastian Job. MvL: Maarten Van Loozenoord. PB: Peter Berryman.
Q: When did you all begin sim racing and how? On top of this what was the first sim you played? (Unfortunately if it was a Codemasters game, that does count!)
AS: Well not including the Codies titles, I guess December 2011 then, the day I joined iRacing. I had been doing a bit on console racing on and off and just wanted to find something better. A friend said I should give it a try and I thought ‘Why not?’ I did my first race in the MX5 and the rest is, as they say, history.
AH: It all started with Gran Turismo 2 on PS One at the age of 5. Then I switched to Gran Turismo 4 on PS2 and later to Forza 2 and 3. I raced the French Forza 3 championship in 2010 and became French champion in the less than 15 years class. In February 2011 I started “real” sim racing when I switched to iRacing and never looked back because it is so much closer to real life than Forza and Gran Turismo.
SJ: I don’t have the greatest memory, but I used to play a lot of GT5 when I was younger. I did race the F1 franchise a bit, but had lots of equipment problems that stopped me playing as much. I got into proper simracing in March 2013, signed up to iRacing and spent a few months crashing in rookies. I loved it though, and was hooked.
MvL: I started simracing from my 16th birthday, playing Gran Turismo. All I did was making laps around the Nordschleife.
PB: I started sim racing in 2012 on codemasters F1 2012 as I started watching F1 on TV and was hooked straight away.
Q: When did you first become interested in motorsport? How old were you when this interest occurred?
AS: I have always been interested in racing as far back as I can remember. My Dad is a massive F1 fan so the grand prix was always on the TV. I can remember playing Pole Position on the Atari and thinking it was the best thing ever.
I also did a lot RC racing from about 7 – 15. I won a few regional championships and a couple of national junior races.
AH: I have always been interested in racing as far back as I can remember. I remember watching NASCAR with my Dad when I was very young and I still do.
SJ: Probably around when I was 7 or 8 and began watching F1 with my Dad.
MvL: This started when I was really young. My Dad and I were always watching Formula 1. I think I was about 12 years old when I started watching.
PB: I was 15 when I first became interested in motorsport.
Q: As we know you can invest a lot of money in to sim racing; what equipment do you each use and how much do you think you’ve invested over the years?
AS: I hate to think how much I have spent and daren’t add it up 😀
My Rig Specs
Screens: 3x 27″ 144hz LED
CPU: i7 3820 3.6GHz
Graphics Card: 2xNvidia GTX 780TI
RAM: 8GB DDR3 1600mhz
Windows version: 7 Pro
Wheel: SimSteering with F1 & GT1 rims
Pedal: CSR Elite with custom Clutch Bite Point mod
Other Peripherals: DSD Short Throw Shifter, 32″ TV running iSpeed, Simvibe with ButtKicker Gamer 2’s on each corner of the rig & a GT Omega Cockpit.
AH: I can’t really tell as I improved my rig step by step over the years. I started iRacing with an old laptop on a small desk and my second hand G25 taken from my Forza rig. I then added a set of CSR Elites and a racing seat, built a desktop PC from used parts and designed a rig made of MDF. The next step was to switch to triple screens using second hand 17” monitors and a HD6850 GPU. When I started the iWCGPS championship in early 2013, I built my current computer from scratch. Lately I added a F1 style wheel, 24” screens and a fast GPU.
My Rig Specs
Screens: 3 x 24″ LED
CPU: i5 2500K 4.5GHz
Graphics Card: R9 290X
RAM: 8GB DDR3 1600mhz
Windows version: 7 Pro
Wheel: Thrustmaster TX with GT and modded F1 wheels
Pedal: CSR Elite
Gearbox: Thrustmaster TH8RS with short throw gates
SJ: Pretty close to the basics. G27 wheel mounted onto a desk, and stock G27 pedals. 27” Samsung monitor. I’ve probably spent a lot less than most people on this stuff. I started with a DFGT and raced on my parent’s computer. Then upgraded to a G27 after my DFGT pedals started to give up. Now I have built my own PC as the one I was using was struggling.
MvL: I bought a better PC and I finally got triple screens. My T300RS and T3PA-Pro pedals got sponsored by Quido Dekker (owner of UGX-SHOP.COM).
PB: I currently use (when they arrive!) an OSW Direct Drive wheel with a custom made F1 replica rim with CSW V2 pedals. My GTOmega rig, my triple screens and my PC combined with my wheel cost around £5000 so far on my equipment.
Q: In team terms what would you say you individually think has been a memorable moment in sim racing?
AS: I’m very proud of what the team has achieved in such a short time. One point that stands out for me was when the first Apex car took to the grid of the WCS. Big shout out to Jesper Pedersen for that one.
AH: When I look back I can see the incredible progress the team has made in terms of results, in terms of skills to setup the car, in terms of promotion and broadcast, in terms of new talent promotion with our Apex Academy. Alex has performed an amazing job in all these topics behind the scene.
SJ: Seeing the Apex Academy growing the way it has is incredible.
MvL: I did my first WCS race with the team and ended up top 20.
PB: For me so far the most memorable team moment in an event would be the preparation and execution of my first World Championship race. Although the team TS channel is the most fun 😛
Q: What hobbies do you individually enjoy?
AS: Apart from iRacing, running a couple of small companies with my Father, I don’t get any other spare time.
AH: My studies and iRacing take all my time.
SJ: I played rugby for a good few years but stopped to take up karting. Watching the RWC (Rugby World Cup) at the moment has been brilliant.
MvL: I did a bit of fitness in the past and I also like to do trackdays with my mates.
PB: My hobbies would obviously include sim racing and motorsport in general but also some CSGO and a few other FPS games. I also used to play snooker for my country. I won many championships and went to England, wales and Republic of Ireland to represent them.
Q: When did you each join Apex Racing UK?
AS: I created the team with Darren Kirk in June of 2012. We had a few ARL members join us straight away and also some of the drivers that were running in our IndyCar leagues back in the day.
AH: In my first 2013 S1 iWCGPS race I was surprised to be able to battle for the top spots against some well-known drivers. Alex offered me to join Apex Racing UK a few hours later. The rest is history.
SJ: Around March and April 2014.
MvL: I joined Apex halfway 2015. I’m glad to be part of this great team and community.
PB: I joined Apex Racing UK at the start of 2015 around March.
Q: What do you all do for a living currently?
AS: I help run a small IT support & telecommunication business with my Father (Simputers PC Systems & BritTalk Communications).
AH: I am studying automotive engineering in an engineering school
MvL: I just finished my school as a graphic designer. Unfortunately there are no jobs up for grabs so I will take any possible job I can.
PB: I am a data and cabling engineer installing fibre optic cables.
Q: Have you ever competed in any sort of real life racing event(s), if so what were they?
AS: No just a sim/RC racer.
AH: I competed in two local karting championships
SJ: I have been doing a rental kart academy for three years now, but now I’m looking towards ways of getting a real racing career.
MvL: I would love to, but I haven’t yet.
Q: Do any of you do any sort of racing in real life currently, or plan to in the future?
AS: Now you’re just making me sad.
AH: No, but would like to.
SJ: I am looking at competitions that will enable me to get a real racing seat.
MvL: I don’t do anything like this at the moment. It’s still a big dream for me to work around the Nürburgring or participate in open wheel races.
Q: What sim racing goals do Apex Racing UK and you all personally have for the remaining months of 2015 and the future?
AS: As team principle I would still like to see a podium in 2015, come on Seb! Personally I have had a shocker of a season, with the first seven races wrote off or missed completely. Now I’m just trying to fight my way back into the top 25.
We also have three Apex cars and three Academy cars going for the Endurance series, so getting on the grid for 2016 is the main target there.
One other personal goal I have; is to get myself into the oval series as well. It’s going to be a steep learning curve no doubt but we will give it a try in 2016.
AH: My personal goal for the end of the season is to score two top 10s and to come back into the top 15 in the championship. For the team I would like to see all three WCS drivers qualified for 2016 so we can concentrate on the Blancpain WCS qualifying during S4 2015.
SJ: For me, I really want to get a podium at the last race of the WCS season at CoTA. It’s been a track I’ve always excelled at, and I’ve now had two top fives, so it’s getting close. For the team, I think it’d be great if we can be competing for top fives in the Blancpain Endurance series. I think another aim for us is to get as many pro drivers into the WCS. If successful, we could have a very strong WCS team.
MvL: Prepare myself for the Pro series and try to help the WCS guys out to stay in the top 25.
PB: My goal is to finish in the top 25 of the Pro Series and gain my WCS licence.
Q: Most people have some sort of inspiration, who is an inspiration for each of you in motorsport and/or in general?
AS: Nigel Mansell, the guy is a legend.
SJ: Michael Schumacher.
MvL: Max Verstappen.
PB: My teammates motivate me as without them it would be a little boring. I mainly just sim race for fun in my free time to relax and have fun with mates as I love it.
Q: We expect the Mclaren MP4-30 to be just around the corner, and I’m sure most of you are looking forward to a refreshing new F1 car: But other than this what are you most looking forward to coming out “soon” in iRacing?
AS: The new Audi looks rather nice and if iRacing matches the sound of the GT3 Aston to real life, that thing will sound like sex on wheels. Plus I’m always looking forward to the new version of the tyre model. It keeps getting better but still not quite there.
AH: Mercedes AMG GT car if the sound in sim matches the sound of the real car. Norschleife! I tried it at SimExpo 2015 and it was GREAT.
SJ: The Formula Renaults will be great, and also the new tracks that are coming up.
MvL: The Nürburgring Nordschleife.
PB: For me I want more tracks that are formula car related (F1 biased: P).
Q: What’s your favorite ever F1 car and who’s your favorite driver of all time?
AS: The Williams FW14B. Come on iRacing make it happen. Driver as before is Nigel.
AH: The BMW F1.08. because of its crazy aero. Gilles Villeneuve is my all-time favourite driver because of his raw talent.
SJ: Any of the V10s. Michael Schumacher.
MvL: My favorite F1 car must be the famous Lotus or Honda; what Senna was driving. Since Max Verstappen joined F1 I became an F1 fan again so in this short time he will be my all time favorite driver.
PB: For me my favourite driver of all time is Fernando Alonso and as I am a Ferrari fan. I feel the Ferrari f138 2013 car is awesome.
Q: What’s the most exciting thing you’ve been able to do in real life?
AS: I’ve driven a Ferrari around Silverstone, done some snowboarding and some track days but nothing to crazy.
AH: First laps in a 125cc race karting and completing several laps in a NASCAR car on Daytona speedway at more than 180mph.
SJ: Nothing extreme yet, but I would love to do as much of that stuff as possible in the future. Skydiving would be great. I have driven a minimax kart a couple of times before which was great fun.
MvL: Driving the Nordschleife with my best friend’s Civic.
PB: I’m really not an adrenaline junky so I haven’t really done anything too exciting really but I have big plans in the future!
Q: What series outside of any FW31 series do you enjoy the most?
AS: IndyCar, both oval and road.
AH: I enjoy driving the Ruf C-Spec and the Lotus 79 as those cars are very lively and rewarding car to drive.
SJ: Skip Barber series. I’m expecting the Blancpain Endurance Series to be great as well.
MvL: That must be the Star Mazda.
PB: I personally don’t enjoy any series other than F1 as most other series are just wreckfests and just ruin the enjoyment for me; but I do enjoy the McLaren GT3 car.
Q: Out of anyone in the team, who would you say comes close to fitting the “team joker” status?
AS: Conrad will always lighten the mood in Teamspeak.
SJ: Conrad and Clive are hilarious together.
MvL: That must be Peter Berryman.
PB: It’s hard to say for me as I feel every member of the team is a good joker at times and everyone is a good sport aswell which makes a fun and positive environment.
Q: If you could choose any track in the world to drive on, which track would it be and which vehicle would you choose?
AS: Silverstone and in the FW14B, what a dream come true that would be.
AH: Mazda 787B on Suzuka
SJ: 2005 Ferrari at Spa.
MvL: That would be again: The Nordschleife with a BMW E46 M3.
PB: I would love to drive an F1 car at Abu Dhabi as the circuit and background is amazing.
Q: One final question; throughout each of your times in the top tier of sim racing, what has the most memorable memory been for the team and yourselves?
AS: Personally winning the Road America round of the pro series. For the team this past two seasons have been stand out for us in the IndyCar. We have won the Indy 500, the road and oval titles and the combined title twice: Not bad for newcomers to the series.
AH: Personally being in P5 for the first time on a WCS grid was great. Winning the Ruf Cup two seasons in a row is also a great memory. For the team stepping up from iGPS to Pro Series to WCS together with Alex and finishing in 14th and 15th position for our first full WCS championship was a great achievement given the level of competition.
SJ: My most memorable moment has to be getting a fourth place at Twin Ring Motegi in the WCS. For the team, the large number of championships that have been won. Also, Cam winning the Indy 500 was a great moment, and also one of the best finishes I’ve seen.
MvL: In my road to pro going around the outside of Jon Oncala after a tough battle on Silverstone.
PB: I couldn’t really say what is the most memorable as there are so many highs and lows which is the joy of motorsport but I would have to say the teamwork and respect involved for each event is pretty memorable which is why I love this team 😀