I want to spend some time talking about overtaking discipline, and what I believe are the essentials to preserving your (and others’) safety rating and ultimately having an enjoyable iRacing experience.
First of all, it’s pretty safe to say that iRacing’s Mazda MX-5 Cup series is an ideal place for newbies and oldies alike to learn how to overtake properly. Things happen much slower in the Mazda than they would in, say, the Corvette C6.R (I’m stating the obvious… but you get what I mean). Additionally, the fixed setup in this series removes any effects that a change in setup would have on the balance of your car – basically you are forced to drive the same Mazda every time (again, stating the obvious but it’s important to note for my next point). Both these factors promote a standardised environment that can be used to replicate laps – essentially, any variance in lap time is down to the driver, fuel consumption and tire wear… and nothing else. This makes it easier to understand what is happening with the car and will aid your learning process. What you learn here can transfer into any series and make you a better, more complete sim-racer. Now that I think of it… the same can be said about any skill you are trying to learn in iRacing, but we will focus on overtaking for now.
So without further ado, here are a few Top Tips to kick-off with that will minimize the risk of collision and maximise your chances of performing a sound overtaking manoeuvre. In no particular order:
1. Be patient. There will be 25 laps… use them wisely! Use the first lap to settle into a position, establish a rhythm and then build from there. Slower drivers will come to you, faster ones will leave you.
2. First lap heroes, namely wanna be Ayrton Sennas. So, you’ve qualified badly, or not at all, and are going to make up loads of places in the first lap. Right… here we go… Green light! You’re off! First corner, first lap, brake late! Here we go, I’m past two!! BAM!!!! Aw no… I’ve wrecked myself and five others. This is Route One to loosing friends on track… do yourself a favour and avoid this urge. Also, refer to Point One.
3. Forcing an overtake. If you’re racing someone of equal speed and skill, just wait, grind out the laps. It’s more a game of who makes the first mistake and less of a kamikaze approach – there are 25 laps! Point One will help you here – have you noticed a pattern yet?
4. Know the track. Most tracks have one or two ideal overtake opportunities; learn these areas. All other areas of the track are either too dangerous or – barring a fundamental mistake by your opponent — don’t allow clean overtaking opportunities. Practice as much as possible before you decide to race… Point One comes in handy for this.
5. Know the car. Only after turning a significant number of laps in a car will you get a feel for how it handles on the limit and an understanding of how it will handle in certain situations. Practice, practice, practice… oh, and refer to Point One.
6. Know the opponent(s). This one is a little tricky as, in a popular series like the Mazda Cup, you may race against someone once in your whole career. However, if you race regularly in a given series, you will get to know some members and their track personas. Some will defend to the bitter end, others will yield. How do you figure this out? Practice and… what’s that? Refer to Point One.
7. Dive bombing!! “What is a dive bomb?” I hear you shout. It is when you attempt an overtake by trying to out-brake your opponent from a car length (or more) away. Inevitably you will be traveling too quick to make the corner, your opponent will not expect such a ridiculous move. They will turn-in while you are still trying to stop the car and BAM! Kiss your Safety Rating good bye. This is Route Two to losing friends on track. Yep, you guessed it, see Point One.
8. Don’t move in the braking zones. The car is committed when under braking. Trying to out-fox your opponent while in the braking zone is risky and will result in an accident if you are a beginner. I’m sure Point One comes in handy here too.
If you keep the above in mind you won’t go far wrong, will maintain/improve your Safety Rating and you may even make a few friends along the way. Good luck guys and gals, get practicing, and most importantly, have fun.