SimRacingGirl has gone from battling her partner's friends to driving an F1 simulator and battling with the world's best virtual racers. We find out what it takes to become a top sim racer.
SimRacingGirl may have been competing in virtual races for less than two years, but she's already well on the way to becoming a sim racing sensation. She's even gone up against the world's very best in an F1 simulator, managing a time within seconds of Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo's real life qualifying times. Read on to find out what it takes to make it to the top of the sim racing world.
Watch SimRacingGirl try out Red Bull Racing's F1 simulator in the video below.
How did you first get into sim racing, and how old were you at the time?
I started in June 2016, when I was 28-years-old. My partner came home with this second-hand playseat, and there were some friends at our place who wanted to have a lap of the Autrodomo Monza on Project Cars. After everyone had their turn, I wanted to try it out, too, because I'd never played racing games with an actual steering wheel and pedals. I was really excited, but one of our friends told me it wasn't a girl thing. Of course I was triggered by that comment, and I accepted that as a challenge. With some basic tips, I was able to beat this friend quite quickly.
I noticed that I really enjoyed sim racing, and I also learned very quickly. At some points it was even hard getting out of the sim, because the process of getting faster with each lap was very addictive, and learning a new skill and getting better really grips me.
How long did it take before you realised you were good at it?
I realised I was pretty good at it when I regularly finished top five, and in some cases top three, on Assetto Corsa. Also, when I completed my laps on the F1 simulator, the engineer was quite impressed with my pace. That made me realise I wasn't doing a bad job at all, especially considering the fact I only started sim racing 18 months ago.
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What did you think of the F1 simulator, and how does it compare with your own racing rig?
I'd already looked up the F1 simulator on YouTube so I kind of knew what to expect in terms of the setup, but to actually try it out was mind blowing.
It was by far the best experience I have had in terms of simulators. The motion felt extremely good, and there was no latency at all. Besides that, the 180° projectors really made the experience immersive, and there was even a ventilator that simulated wind. All these things made it incredibly realistic, and it was also awesome to use the real wheels and be coached by a Red Bull Engineer.
Of course, this isn't comparable to my setup at home – the F1 simulator is also used by actual F1 drivers to train on. It's a different level of technology.
What kind of training do you do?
My partner, who I always refer to as my sim racing coach, really helps me with my training. Starting with a new track, I do a few laps and he analyses my lines, my braking points, and the gears I take the corners in. Based on that information, he gives me tips and advice to improve my lap times. He always tells me that I lose the most time in my corner exits, and the engineer also confirmed this during my F1 simulator challenge, so that's definitely something I should work on.
Sometimes I train with a friend of mine, Dom Brennan, who's a great sim racer. We practice together on iRacing, where I follow him during a lap and see how he takes his lines, his braking points and so on. Then he follows me while I'm doing a lap, and gives he me advice based on my lap. I really learn a lot from these training sessions, and it definitely improves my lap times.
What setup do you use, and what are the bits that make it perfect for racing?
I’m sponsored by Vesaro, so I have my Vesaro chassis at home, with a Corbeau racing seat. I like the frame of the Vesaro chassis, because of its high-quality steel materials, and it's also easy to adjust the distance of the seat to the wheelbase. Besides that, I can also change the seating to more Formula One-style position. Since I like driving open wheel cars, this is definitely a plus for me.
Cable management is another thing Vesaro has thought about. I really like it when my setup looks tight, without any cables hanging out. To create more rumble effects, I have a kicker below my seat, and I also have a surround system, which makes my racing experience even more immersive. I currently have a single screen setup, which is why I mostly race in VR with an Oculus Rift.
In terms of racing wheel and pedals, I mostly use my Fanatec CSW V2.5 wheelbase, and I swap between my Fanatec ClubSport Formula wheel and the CSL Elite Racing Wheel P1. With regards to pedals, I'm now using the Fanatec ClubSport V3 pedals, with the Brake Performance Kit. They feel very sturdy and realistic in my opinion.
The ideal platform for racing
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Which game do you think is the best, and why?
I can't really say which game is the best. I swap between sims a lot. Assetto Corsa is the sim I race the most, because I just love the physics and the graphics of the game, but Project Cars 2, iRacing, Automobilista, RaceRoom and Dirt Rally are also sims I play quite often.
I think Automobilista and rFactor2 are definitely some of the better sims out there. They have extremely nice physics, and in terms of car sounds, I think RaceRoom did a great job. In terms of the best graphics, Project Cars 2 is really impressive. I have the most fun in Dirt Rally at the moment, especially in VR. And no, I don't get motion sickness at all.
What else do you want to achieve in sim racing?
At the moment I'm really focusing on getting better and faster, but for me it's also important to try different types of cars and software. I don't intend to only focus on one particular sim or one type of car. I want to be an all-rounder. Besides sim racing, I hope I'll have the opportunity to try the real deal one day, and experience a real car on a real track.
SimRacingGirl uses an Oculus Rift for the perfect VR view
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Do you follow any specific motorsports?
MotoGP always gets my heart rate up. I truly love it, and in terms of racing, it's the most exciting there is. They did a good job in creating a smaller gap between all the factory teams and the satellite teams. I'm a big fan of Valentino Rossi, by the way.
What do you think about the different racing game initiatives in esports?
I love what's been happening for sure – rFactor2 is doing a great job, but also Codemasters with F1 2017. Of course, there's iRacing, which has always been present and continues to offer good competition due to a good online ranking system. I think the sim racing scene is booming and will grow bigger than ever before, and I'm happy to be a part of it.