Another day brings us another Reader Submission here at PRC.net, and once again we’re using our time to rip apart the physics model found in the extremely popular iRacing.com Motorsports Simulation. Often the subject of intense scrutiny away from the official iRacing forums, iRacing’s vehicle dynamics has their fair share of flaws, and PRC.net reader PlushLabs has discovered some interesting vehicle behavior while watching a stream of a high-profile Mazda MX-5 online series.
Hey James. It’s been a while since I’ve written in, but I think the last time my email was published was when I talked about the F1 cars at Okayama putting two wheels on the grass with no repercussions at all handed to drivers – not through the stewards, and certainly not through the physics of the game. I’m not here to complain about stewards though, because this is a readily apparent problem with iRacing’s physics.
I just finished watching the Tidal Influence MX-5 World Tour’s stop at Silverstone while I was wasting time waiting for a C-Class Street Stocks race. The final moments of the stream were certainly entertaining and I was immediately immersed into the competition, only to be taken right out of my immersion by the sudden change in discipline from road course racing to rallycross.
Of course, the series organizers aren’t running with incident limits, which is how I think all unofficial series should be run. The organizers also don’t have a rule against abusing track limits in such a ridiculous manner, but again, this isn’t an issue on the series’ behalf. iRacing’s off-road physics are so forgiving that you can actually drive onto the grass, catch air, and still be driving straight. Regardless of how much you need to practice to get this line on Abbey’s exit correct, the fact that it’s such a forgiving maneuver to pull should be another item on iRacing’s checklist of problems to fix. After a short talk with race winner Evan Maillard and runner-up Sonny Kanchin (which I unfortunately didn’t screencap), they both agreed that the grass is way too tacky and forgiving. Sonny had no ill towards Evan for abusing track limits because he figures if it’s an advantage you can legally use, you use it, no questions asked, and that’s all well and good! But the fact that they could even pull off such an insanely unrealistic maneuver is incredibly odd.
However, someone else in the chat suggested that the grass actually could have been stickier than usual, and the dynamic weather might have had something to do with that. I can’t remember which of the race leaders it was who said it, but I can guarantee one of them brought it up. I wouldn’t doubt them either, it’s very likely that course cutting and abusing track limits on unlimited incident races will be the norm on courses like Silverstone. Laguna Seca is also a problem, where the sand pits and gravel are incredibly forgiving if you enter almost any corner too fast and find yourself off the asphalt. Hell, Summit Point’s racing line is straight through the gravel pit, and as far as I can tell, barely anything even happens to your tires to make the next left handed corner which is probably the most dangerous turn on the circuit, considering how full of rocks and dust the sticky tires would be.
This is likely an issue VERY low on iRacing’s radar, so this kind of issue is likely to stay unchecked for a long, long time. But at least we’re getting the new MX-5 for free, right?
I wonder who from Club Finland will link this article to the iRacing Member Forums for a free two week suspension?
All jokes aside, physics oddities like this are exactly why I’m not entirely upset that I can no longer participate in iRacing. Yes, it’s scummy as fuck that they’ve taken my money and I have nothing to show for it, but if this is the kind of experience they’re currently offering, as a sim racer I’m really not feeling left out like I should be. I’ve felt the MX-5 has always been a little odd to drive, but the fact that you can literally go off-roading with no punishment whatsoever is one of many indications that iRacing isn’t worth the price of admission. Our boy Maple will have a complete review of the new build within the coming weeks, so I’m interested to see how much more weird shit he finds in the physics engine given his role in the Peak Anti-Freeze Series – and now a few private leagues as you can see in the new banner at the top of the page.
It would be nice to hear that iRacing’s gotten their shit together, but unfortunately stuff like this is extremely frustrating. As I’ve said in the past, I don’t think they really care about getting the sim to a level where it’s on par with something like Automobilista or rFactor 2 – they are merely happy providing a huge online racing platform with intrusive content pricing, and any dissent is quickly dismissed as someone utterly obsessed with the game to an unhealthy extent. Even if the flaws are genuine, as pointed out above, iRacing is at a point where they’re not obligated to care – for each person that points out how ridiculous it is that you can go off-roading in a Miata, fifty others will gladly rush across sim racing message boards to spread the gospel of iRacing.