Is Reiza Studios offering the Cheapest (and coolest) Vacation Ever?

GSC 2015-04-19 04-49-19-12Last week, Reiza Studios announced an IndieGoGo Campaign designed to capitalize on the success of Slightly Mad Studios’ Project CARS crowdfunding experiment. The project features several tiers, with the highest including an all-expenses paid trip to the Stock Car Brazil season finale at Interlagos.

Compared to paying for the trip yourself,  including finding a hotel, getting tickets for the race, and the ridiculous amount of planning involved in simply going on vacation, what Reiza is offering for the Level 12 contribution tier is an insane deal. Using Google to check what an average flight to South America would cost, it takes no time at all to see Reiza is giving away a trip that puts most family vacations to shame.

Untitled-3Living in Europe, even the cheapest flights to Interlagos almost cost more than the total all-inclusive package Reiza has up for Level 12 members –


Given how crazy Brazilian Stock Car racing is, with 56-car entry lists and a rabid following that puts NASCAR to shame, Reiza Studios might be offering the coolest vacation in the world of auto racing, and only a handful of people know about it.

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Reiza Studios Does Crowdfunding the RIGHT Way

Today, (or probably yesterday), Reiza Studios, developers of the criminally underrated Game Stock Car Extreme, announced their crowdfunding campaign on IndieGoGo. The video alone previews some crazy new content coming to the fantastic Brazilian-centric racing sim, including but not limited to:ti2xv4yckptmq7nblbhv


d29jvffea3d7kndyduc6This news comes right after crowdfunding for Project CARS 2 was announced, and although rumors of Reiza resorting to crowdfunding in order to finish up the unlicensed V8 Supercars DLC were rapidly circulating, nobody knew how far they were willing to take this new business model.

With rFactor 2 stuck in development hell, Game Stock Car Extreme is seen as the true successor to rFactor and is increasing in popularity with each passing week. After my time spent in RaceDepartment’s V8 Stock Car League, it’s safe to say that I’m eagerly anticipating the new selection of content, and will pursue a spot in whatever serious leagues open up. And I think it’s the right call for Reiza to go down this route. The entire list of planned DLC is epic and covers a broad range of worldwide motorsports series that will flesh out what’s currently a very good but very South American-oriented racing sim.

Driving Brazilian Stock Cars with some guys from Europe – RaceDepartment VSCC Season 3 Recap

For a five week span on, I’ve posted an article every Saturday chronicling my season driving for Walk Racing in Season 3 of the Virtual Stock Car Championship over on RaceDepartment. Now that the season’s over and I’ve taken home fourth place in the overall standings, behind teammates Risto Kappet and Guus Verver, as well as Brazilian Neto Nascimento, it’s obviously time to reflect on the season and give all you readers some insight into how a person approaches a league like this – not many people have the talent to compete in a prestigious online league, and you might be surprised at how some things are done at the top.

I’ve won two championships and several special events on iRacing, had a pretty successful career over in Rigs of Rods with several event wins, and have recently been tearing up the leaderboards in DiRT Rally, but nothing could prepare me for Brazilian Stock Cars. Built in Europe to be a heavy-duty DTM-like car, powered by an engine you’d see in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, and featuring a push-to-pass system that causes all kinds of chaos, Brazilian Touring Car racing is something so bizarre and foreign that at least some of my skills I’ve picked up over the years might have transfered over.

GSC 2015-04-25 16-24-57-58RECRUITED

Guus Verver was the one to really get me into Game Stock Car Extreme, and pushed for me to get into running Brazilian Touring Cars on RaceDepartment. We met through 4Chan’s automotive board and participated regularly in the weekly rFactor events the various users held. After two seasons running GT cars,  the group switched over to Game Stock Car Extreme and announced the next 4Chan season would be held with the Stock Car Brazil cars. My two championships over on 4Chan, and the close racing the Brazilian cars were providing out of the box that I didn’t seem to struggle with, made Guus ask me if I wanted to compete alongside him in a league that was much more serious than guys hosting races on a Chinese cartoon imageboard.

I did. I hadn’t league raced around good people since iRacing a few years prior, and I knew I could hold my own to some extent because the only guys faster than me on 4Chan were Risto and Guus – both of whom already drove for Walk Racing. Maybe a day or two later, a couple weeks before 4Chan’s league would start, and a full month before the RaceDepartment league would hold its pre-season qualifying event, I was a part of Walk Racing as well.

Moral of the story: Always drive your ass off, because you have no idea who’s watching.

GSC 2015-04-30 21-11-34-85A FAMILY FRIENDLY LIVERY

People who are familiar with me from other racing sims know I have a habit for running absolutely ridiculous liveries that are intentionally designed to offend and distract everyone around me. For the past few years, across a multitude of different racing sims, I’ve swapped between a crazy leopard print design, and a straight-up softcore pornography livery. At one point, I even had my actual cell phone number on the back of my car so people could text or call me under caution to shout profanities or complain about my driving – and you’d be surprised at how many people followed through with this. I’ve had several protests, suspensions, and angry fathers with teenage daughters come after me in a variety of ways, and it provides some cheap entertainment when we’re at a track that doesn’t provide the most competitive racing. The voice and text chat is absolute comedy gold when someone takes a closer look at my car.

iRacingSim64 2013-04-15 22-24-19-02iRacingSim64 2013-05-25 15-37-46-52GSC 2015-04-17 20-43-34-42Unfortunately, driving for a team in a serious online league usually means you’ll have no control over your own livery aside from small contingencies. This was the contingency sheet I sent over to the graphics designer when I got the message that work had begun on this season’s liveries:

Austin O ContingenciesIf you look closely, you can see the black & white logo next to the exhaust. We went the entire season without anybody noticing, and for good measure I stuck a polaroid photo of Ariel from The Little Mermaid on the dash to mess with the commentators during in-car shots because Reiza lets you paint the dash in these cars and oh my god you can paint the dash. Again, nobody seemed to notice this:

11200617_10203127727394556_8706988326524070868_nYou have to understand, for someone who prides themselves on how retarded of a livery they can create, having to run a boring team livery is like telling a kid he’ll be forced to wear mandatory uniforms once high school starts. It’s demoralizing, but at this point I have embraced my eternal quest for attention.

GSC 2015-05-02 16-42-12-26PRACTICING

As I stated earlier, once I got on-board with Walk Racing, the 4Chan GSCX league actually started a few weeks before the pre-qualification event for RaceDepartment’s league. From what I remember, we had about three weeks to learn absolutely everything we could about the car before the RD league started, from what common values for each setting worked across all tracks, to what fuel strategies worked in race conditions, and the exact amount of time you could drive on worn tires before you began scrubbing off speed. Risto was insane at cold hard calculations, sometimes throwing a setup at us that had values we hadn’t even thought of, and able to explain precisely what adjustments each setup might need based on how the car performed. Myself, Guus, and Severin Austerschmidt used the three 4Chan events and the open practice servers throughout the week to build a literal library of setups that we could consult once the season began. I think, going into the first race at Cascavel, I myself had seven or eight different setups to choose from developed from our time spent messing around in the 4Chan leagues, and even had specific Qualifying/Race setups developed if by some chance the RD admins forgot to enable the parc ferme rule.

Guus ended up using a setup I developed for Laguna Seca as a baseline. Severin, who would be sticking primarily to the 4Chan league and wouldn’t be racing with us at RD, modified a setup I made for the A1-Ring as his baseline. Info was exchanged almost daily, and I ran way too many practice laps throughout each week that definitely ate into my free time. The whole process of using one league to prepare for another was really interesting – during 4Chan’s trip to Laguna Seca, the entire purpose of the 80 minute race was to test sway bar settings – more specifically, how much ARB was too much. Another race, at Cascavel, I wanted to see how long I could make a full tank of fuel last compared to Guus running a set value at the start. The race at the Red Bull Ring was a test to see if my CPU would run into any performance difficulties.

Once the season started, Mr. C, the owner of Walk Racing, set up a private LiveRacers server for all of us. LiveRacers is a stat tracking application for gMotor sims that is essentially a heavily customizable rFactor leaderboard. The current interface is slightly different to what’s displayed in the picture below, but in short, this allowed us to monitor each others performance all throughout the week leading up to the race on Saturday.

liveracers1It was nice to see the exact amount I needed to push, and how far off I was from Risto and Guus, two very accomplished aliens in their own right.

Which usually wasn’t a lot.

As the season wore on, finding the time for practicing got more and more difficult. Racing sims are a hell of a lot of fun, but sometimes there are days where you’re either too tired to drive, simply not home to run laps, or want to play an entirely different game. Learning to manage this is essential to your performance over the course of a championship.

GSC 2015-05-09 14-43-10-02ALIENS EXIST

Alien is slang within driving game communities for ridiculously fast drivers. Guus and Risto were both aliens. And spending a season with them, it’s amazing how neither of them fit the stereotype. On iRacing, guys like Greger Huttu and Ray Alfalla have achieved almost god-like status for their accomplishments in iRacing’s pro leagues, and both of them have their own small fanbase which sometimes makes it seem as if they live solely to play video games and nothing else. It was nice to get a dose of reality – Guus was a student in the Netherlands, and Risto a kart racer from Estonia. Both were incredibly humble about their skill level, and their skill level didn’t define their online personality. It was refreshing to be around people who were good at a video game because they enjoyed it and pushed themselves to get better, and didn’t constantly spam their sponsors in the chat box on the grid. Maybe it’s because Walk Racing was a half-step below the top teams like Radicals Online and Team Redline, and Guus/Risto hadn’t gotten a taste of the spotlight yet, but it was very nice to be around friendly guys who just happened to be really damn good at rFactor Game Stock Car.

And they were also really damn good at breaking the gMotor physics engine.

Above is a lap Risto ran for our 4Chan league eight months ago. ISI-based sims lets you do some wild pedal management bullshit that you simply can’t do in real life or you’ll kill yourself. Pay special attention to how he works both the throttle and brake simultaneously in the corners. This is a shortcoming of the gMotor physics engine and there’s no way to police this in leagues. Fellow driver Jake Cooper drew attention to this unconventional driving style during practice at Cordoba, but unfortunately things like this are why you’ll see guys obsess over small physics changes in newer titles like Assetto Corsa – failing to dial this stuff out ruins the top leagues in any ISI-based sim.

GSC 2015-05-30 14-48-04-08SETUPS

By mid season, we had a pretty predictable way of developing setups. Guus was using one of the preseason setups I’d made with minor adjustments, Risto was pumping out his own setups for himself, and I was using what Risto would develop, often only changing the brake bias and bump/rebound settings so it wasn’t as twitchy in the corners over a long period of time. All of Risto’s setups were developed to take advantage of his crazy braking technique, and two weekends in a row, both at Cordoba and Jacarepagua, most of my time in practice was spent finding the absolute perfect brake bias for how I drove the car. Risto always had his set at 60:40, and sometimes that just wasn’t logical if you weren’t trying to break the game’s physics. After a few races, I learned 63:37 was a pretty good universal value.

We almost always ran the rear wing at 0 and had really crazy differential settings. The steering lock was always at 18, and the front sway bar was always softer than the rear sway bar. With no spring rate adjustments and a fixed gear ratio, a lot of people when setting these cars up do it primarily by feel. In general, the stiffer the better.

GSC 2015-05-30 14-48-55-60UNAVOIDABLE ELITISM

When you’re constantly practicing with aliens, and only a tenth or two off their quickest times without breaking the game’s physics, and able to deliver on race day, you begin to develop an unavoidable sense of elitism. We all watch sim racing videos on YouTube, whether it be from popular personalities or random hotlap videos. When competing in a league like RaceDepartment’s, where you’re getting as much out of the car as you physically can and maximizing every inch of the track, you start to realize that a huge portion of sim racers totally suck. Watching almost any video after my time spent driving in VSCC, you can instantly pick out people’s mistakes, and often after one or two turns in a video, you simply turn it off.

This unavoidable elitism turns you into a pretty big cunt – I’d often find myself browsing places like the Assetto Corsa forum, the iRacing member forum, the WMD forum for Project CARS, VirtualR for news, and even some RaceDepartment threads.. just to see guys talking about sim racing in general. And anytime someone would post a hotlap video or talk about their driving skills, I’d approach what they had to say with a ton of cynicism. It put me in state of emotion very reminiscent of high school gym class, where even the slightest mistake, dumb observation, or off-pace lap would cause me to shout haha you’re a fucking bum as if I watched my buddy whiff on a shot in floor hockey and turn off whatever YouTube video I was watching.

There’s no better example of this than the 80+ minute direct drive wheel comparison video we posted a few weeks ago. I remember skipping to footage of the actual driving portion, seeing the guys wiggle in a few corners, and being like “nope you’re shit”. Again, when there are only a handful of people better than you in a competitive environment over the course of an entire season, you start to acquire the ego of Eddie Van Halen.

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Getting through a qualifying session is crazy as hell; it’s probably more stressful than the race. During the first round at Cascavel, the top seventeen drivers were separated by a single second. On track, this works out to a two car length gap. You essentially had to run a perfect lap, with several other cars on the track also trying to run a perfect lap. So ideally, the goal would be to stay away from all those other cars. In each session, I always tried to leave the pits right as the session started. This would guarantee a clear track ahead, and maybe three laps to myself where I wouldn’t have to deal with traffic. It was really important to take advantage of these clean laps, because hotlapping in traffic is hard for obvious reasons. People don’t just move over for you.

I almost had the pole at Cascavel, but had to back off just before sector three started to prevent from running another dude over who was on his outlap. At Cordoba, I was on pace to break the track record because I’d used the draft from another car so well in the first two sectors, but the insane speed I’d gained behind the “host car” meant I’d caught him at a part of the track where I had to compromise my line to get around him. Part of the strategy in qualifying is purposely hanging back from the guy in front of you long enough so you don’t run him over. This is trickier than it sounds, since sometimes the guy in front isn’t very good, and with only a handful of minutes to run a fast lap, you don’t have all day to just sit and wait for the perfect opening.

With so many good cars in the field, you never knew if your fastest lap would have you starting 3rd or 13th. Now from my time over on iRacing, I can safely say your starting position on an oval doesn’t mean shit, because in some cases you can pass multiple cars in a single turn – or just outright move them out of the way yourself. Not here. The BR Stock Cars were so reliant on clean air to the point where starting in heavy traffic meant imminent death. And if people didn’t want you to pass them, they could simply counter your efforts with a use of the temporary boost system on the car.

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You aren’t going to be exerting yourself physically when driving a pretend race car at your computer desk, but before every major online race you participate in there’s a few things you can do to improve your chances of not messing shit up.

Don’t eat McDonalds the night before. Depending on the country you live in, a proper diet before the race goes a long way. The last thing you want to have happen is to practice for a big race all week, only to contemplate shitting yourself while playing rFactor so you stay in the top ten in points or whatever. What sounds like a good idea at the time won’t mean much ten minutes after the race ends, and you’ll have to explain to your flatmates why a computer game took priority over your bodily functions, who will eventually let that story circulate among your female colleagues. I know guys who had legit piss bottles for the iRacing Daytona 500 because those races could last up to four hours, but it’s better to just avoid this issue altogether and don’t eat stuff that’ll cause you to shit yourself during the race. Ditto for fluids. You pee your pants playing rFactor, I’m publicly shaming you.

Get the lighting in your room right. I have a window right above my PC monitor, and any moderately sunny day causes lighting issues in my room. It’s not a problem during daytime races because there’s enough contrast on screen to see where you’re going, but sometimes races, not just in GSCX but in other sims as well, would have some form of time acceleration. If you know the race will carry on into the night, make sure your room is dark before the race starts. That way your eyes won’t get fucked up when the in-game world begins to get darker.

Ensure there will be no FPS drops. You don’t need special effects so turn them off. Shadows in ISI sims can be set to “medium” with no tangible drop in how the game looks. Set your visible opponents setting to 20 or so, you don’t need to render cars on the other side of the circuit. There are guys who run everything at low or off because they think it reduces input lag – newsflash, it doesn’t. But you should at least prepare yourself for FPS drops, because that’s the last thing you want happening in a long, tense online event.

GSC 2015-05-09 15-03-30-65RACING

Our races were 50 minutes long, which guaranteed we’d have to make at least one pit stop for fuel. Since each team shared a pitbox, myself and Razvan would have to coordinate when our pit windows would be, always being careful to start the race with differing amounts of fuel. Had we messed up and entered the pits at the same time, one of us would have to awkwardly wait behind the other, ruining someone’s race in the process which isn’t cool.

As for how I approached each race, the goal was simple – don’t damage the car. Push-to-pass was used once every five minutes or so, spread out evenly throughout the race. I mapped the black box controls to buttons on my DFGT so I could easily make pit adjustments and scroll through the different information boxes at will. Once the field spread out, I spent a large portion of each race monitoring the standings and manually calculating the points on the fly. I knew that one fifth place finish would be merely average, but a whole season of nothing but fifth place finishes would skyrocket me to the top of the points standings as more and more people struggled with consistency. I drove with as little aggression as possible unless the situation called for it. With no poles, wins, or podiums, I finished the season fourth out of nearly 50 drivers just by not putting myself in stupid situations.

GSC 2015-05-09 15-01-58-85CONTACT

Throughout your career in online racing, you will come across a wide variety of different drivers who all have their own ideas on how a race should play out. If you spend a lot of time oval racing, you’ll learn quickly that contact is as commonplace in a NASCAR race as it is in hockey or American football. Venture over to road racing, and you’ll get a mixed set of rules and opinions that differ from series to series. Some leagues have strict rules about blocking, and others don’t allow any contact at all. You’ll also come across some drivers who throw bitchfits if you merely sneeze near them, whereas other drivers will buy right into the natural aggression that comes with auto racing and dish it right back at you.

The RaceDepartment VSCC league was very liberal in how we treated each other on-track. On several different occasions people were taking pretty heavy shots at each other, moving each other out of the way, or flat-out door slamming people, and this was all seen as acceptable. As someone who’s spent a fair bit of time oval racing online, I felt right at home, and this is how it should be. Everyone in the series was more than capable of keeping their cars under control while driving aggressively, and even if you were on the receiving end of someone’s aggression, it never escalated to a point where it felt unfair. It was a lot of fun to race in this sort of environment because the stewards respected the skill level of all drivers involved and let the race play out as it should.

I have to say though, if you were someone who couldn’t handle a proper on-track dogfight or believed auto racing is governed by an unwritten set of gentleman’s rules, you’d probably have your shit stomped. Early in the season I moved Fabio Assucano out of the way using nothing but my bumper, and he promptly returned the favor four weeks later at Cordoba. During another race at Goiana, I caught up to Jake Cooper and Miguel Lopez who had been trading paint for several laps in a pretty dramatic fashion. When I tried to poke my nose into the fray, Lopez slammed the door in my face. This is part of what made the racing in VSCC a lot of fun, but guys who weren’t ready for this level of aggression would be in for a rude awakening.

In conclusion, the series was a lot of fun, I enjoyed the challenge of having to learn a bunch of new tracks that I’ve never heard of before, but the car was too reliant on clean air, and the season was too short. As a gift for the new guys who have no idea where to start with Game Stock Car Extreme, here are all the setups I ran this season. I remember what it’s like to be new at games like iRacing and see all the fast guys hoarding setups, so I’ll do the opposite:


RaceDepartment VSCC Season 3 Final Round – Jacarepaguá Recap and Results

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In the past, I’ve talked about the importance of people like myself and participating in competitive online leagues to increase our credibility as mouthpieces in the greater driving game community. Far too often, sites like InsideSimRacing, VVV Automotive,  and VirtualR are run by guys who aren’t all that good at the games they’re covering, and it becomes hard to trust what they have to say about a certain game – you never know if that ten second difference on track changes a game from feeling great to absymal because the fast guys found out all the little tricks that push the physics engine to its limit. The same thing happens in yearly EA Sports games; often avid sports gamers can find glitch goals or money plays that your average review site like Gamespot and IGN miss out on.

I’ve been driving in Season 3 of RaceDepartment’s Virtual Stock Car Championship for Walk Racing. The five round season takes place in Reiza Studio’s Game Stock Car Extreme, and save for the Brazilian league that sees many real-world drivers competing, this is basically the top Stock Car V8 online league you can join.

Today, we went to  Jacarepaguá for the fifth and final round of the season. My goal was to lock up third place in the championship standings.

GSC 2015-06-06 15-25-18-43

Jacarepagua is the longest and most technical track on the schedule. With laptimes in the 1:47 range, slippery kerbs, and numerous camber & elevation changes, this track was guaranteed to produce chaos. Because I was lazy, tired, and lacked motivation, I didn’t start practicing for the event until Friday night, and boy what a mistake that turned out to be. While most tracks featured laptimes in the 60 second bracket, Jacarepagua was difficult to memorize, punished even the slightest mistakes, and changed personality with every sector. The layout itself was as if Road America and the road course configuration for New Hampshire International Speedway had a love child. The long, sweeping bends and slippery kerbs of Road America would intersect with the roval characteristics of NHIS – the car sometimes violently bouncing off the tarmac where the road and oval sections of Jacarepagua would intersect.

Even after memorizing the layout, my performance was still not where I wanted it to be. Teammates Risto Kappet and Guus Verver were clicking off 1:47.5‘s in practice, where I seemed to be stuck at a 1:49.3. Eventually, I brought this down into the low 1:48’s, but I was still worried for the race – I had no idea where I’d be on the grid, or if I’d even be competitive, considering I’d always managed to be within a tenth or two of Risto and Guus at all other tracks we visited. It felt fast, but I’d never been this far off pace.

Eventually Risto merged the replay of my best lap with the replay of his best lap, and even he struggled to see where I could improve – commenting that your lines are good, you just need to be faster. We chalked it up to his radical braking technique that abuses the gMotor physics engine and is something that would kill you if you tried it in real life, but that’s a story for another time.

Surprisingly enough, when I finally got onto the RaceDepartment server and ran some practice laps, I was fifth leaderboard – a place I’ve grown accustomed to over the season. The guys in front of me were the usual suspects: Kappet, Verver, Nascimento, and Sergio Junior.

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I was happy with my performance in qualifying, but not happy where I landed on the grid. I was able to do a good job of staying in clean air and making sure I always had an open race track ahead of me to push – strategically lifting in traffic and waiting for the absolute best moment to run a fast lap, but despite my best efforts, I landed seventh on the grid once the session ended.

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The start of the race was an incredible spectacle to watch – lots of friendly contact, but no wrecking whatsoever. Whoever won the race between Nascimento (75), Verver (86), and Kappet (88) would win the championship, and nobody was holding back. If you’re the type of person who believes road racing is governed by a set of unwritten gentleman’s rules, the first lap alone would have sent you into an autistic fit of rage. People who weren’t assertive about protecting their spot on the race track promptly had their shit slapped, and as I’ve said before, in a series where the talent level is so high, everyone understands that it’s just a part of the game. Beginning lap two, all of these little aero pieces were scattered around the track in sector one and it was pretty funny to weave through them all.

But unlike the first four rounds of the season where the focus was solely on the drivers, today the track fought back.

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Not even three laps into the race, I passed points leader and teammate Guus Verver parked on the side of the track. In a hard fought battle with Risto Kappet, Guus had clipped the grass on the exit of turn three, and looped the car. Two laps later, another championship contender, Neto Nascimento, blew the braking point in turn six and went flying off the track.

GSC 2015-06-06 15-22-41-01

Taking away a spot from Verver and Nascimento landed me in fifth place – a familiar spot, and given how we’d already seen two of the front runners make huge mistakes less than ten minutes into the hour-long race, I figured the entire race would be about survival. There was a chance I could see my first podium finish of the season if I simply didn’t wreck.

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Nascimento caught up to me and began his drive back through the field, and just as he was taking a spot away from GhostSpeed driver Miguel Lopes, Lopes put the car in the sand. Two laps later, as Verver began to catch me and make his way back through the field in a quest to defend his championship lead with a pack of cars in tow, I looped the car as well.

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Not wanting to let my emotions get the best of me, I threw the car in neutral and held the brake. The car never fully rotated and I dropped back to tenth place, frustrated that I may lose third place in points to one of the GhostSpeed cars that had slowly been improving throughout the season, Sergio Junior. Three turns later, I saw Nascimento parked along the wall. His day was done, and the championship battle was now between Verver and Kappet alone.

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All of the above spanned the first ten minutes of the race. I began to work my own way up through the field, slowly picking off cars that I’d never raced around before, because I’d never been lower than fifth or six at any point in time during the season until today.

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During the hours leading up to the race, Risto advised me that with my smooth driving style, I’d probably be able to go the entire race on a single set of tires, whereas Kappet and Verver would have to change tires due to how aggressive they are. Even though my tires were a bit shot from the spin earlier, I opted to take Risto’s advice anyway and neglect to change tires. The decision was a smart one in the end, as my teammate Razvan Aricuic and I shared a pitstall, and I left just as he was pulling into the pits. Couldn’t have timed it any better.

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The second half of the race was much less eventful.  Pit stops cycled around, I led a lap, and found myself in sixth with five minutes left to go, swapping places with Miguel Lopes by using the Push-to-Pass system. While it seemed like I was going to take home fifth place for the third time this season, a well-timed boost by the 39 car left me in the dust. However, not all hope was lost, as Sergio Junior did not finish far enough ahead of me to steal third place in points. Rounding the final corner, I noticed Fabio Assucano, who had been riding in fourth place, made a comical screw-up and looped the car a few hundred feet from the finish line. I had already began backing off, thinking I wouldn’t catch the 39 of Lopes and to just enjoy the final few corners in the car, but Assucano’s spin was so detrimental to his momentum that I missed finishing in the top five by about a car and a half. If only I drove it a bit harder during the final minute and selfishly tried to chase down Lopes…

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The setup I ran this week was again a hybrid between something Risto created, and my own values I learned throughout this season and pre-season testing. It wasn’t fast by any means for me, but its what got me through the day. Again, it was designed to be neutral and comfortable for the long haul, just be careful on the throttle.

If it doesn’t load for you, open the setup file with notepad and change reiza51 to reiza14.

Download the setup HERE

RaceDepartment VSCC Season 3 Round 4 – Cordoba Recap and Results

GSC 2015-05-30 14-48-55-60In the past, I’ve talked about the importance of people like myself and participating in competitive online leagues to increase our credibility as mouthpieces in the greater driving game community. Far too often, sites like InsideSimRacing, VVV Automotive,  and VirtualR are run by guys who aren’t all that good at the games they’re covering, and it becomes hard to trust what they have to say about a certain game – you never know if that ten second difference on track changes a game from feeling great to absymal because the fast guys found out all the little tricks that push the physics engine to its limit. The same thing happens in yearly EA Sports games; often avid sports gamers can find glitch goals or money plays that your average review site like Gamespot and IGN miss out on.

I’ve been driving in Season 3 of RaceDepartment’s Virtual Stock Car Championship for Walk Racing. The five round season takes place in Reiza Studio’s Game Stock Car Extreme, and save for the Brazilian league that sees many real-world drivers competing, this is basically the top Stock Car V8 online league you can join.

Today, we went to Cordoba for the fourth round of the season.GSC 2015-05-30 14-44-34-66

Cordoba is very much like a South American version of NOLA Motorsports Park, or Palm Beach International Raceway. The track takes place in a huge wide-open field, features no elevation changes, and huge kerbs that you should probably stay away from. This is by far my favorite track on the schedule, as the track is nothing but medium speed corners. Unlike Taruma, which features a very challenging hairpin and shoddy track surface, or Cascavel, which has massive elevation changes, Cordoba is a very noob-friendly track that still allows for some really great racing. Throughout the week, lap times were consistently in the 69 second range.

But before we even went on the air for Qualifying, drama was brewing behind the scenes.

Teammate Risto Kappet, who had already been penalized once this season for not adhering to track limits during the pre-season qualifying event, was seven tenths faster than anybody else in practice with 30 minutes left in the session. Kappet’s 69.1 destroyed Jake Cooper’s 69.7 and Cooper became very vocal about it. Sitting third in points, behind Risto’s teammate Guus  Verver and Brazilian Neto Nascimento, Cooper believed Risto had to have been violating the rules in some fashion to achieve lap times that the rest of the field had no shot of matching. Cooper initially believed Kappet was violating the track limits in Turn 1, which indeed featured a very large concrete runoff that could be exploited, and Risto’s sector one time indicated he had found an excessive amount of speed where others had not.

After a lengthy exchange inside the chat box, Cooper then accused Risto of using third party hacks to achieve lap times that were virtually impossible during race sessions. In high caliber leagues, such as iRacing’s NASCAR Peak Antifreeze Series, RAM Hacks are sometimes used to gain an advantage over competitors by running a small program alongside the software to edit tire wear and fuel consumption in a way that benefits the user. Touring Pro Series driver Tim Heineman, who raced alongside Kappet in the Virtual Carrera Cup, was discovered to be using RAM Hacks and promptly removed from the series. It’s not a stretch by any means to assume a program has been developed for Game Stock Car Extreme, as it’s basically rFactor.

HacksCooper neglected to file a formal complaint with RaceDepartment administration, opting to outright leave the series before Qualifying began while saying RD was not doing enough to prevent cheating. During the fifteen minute qualifying session, Kappet secured the pole by going even faster than his controversial practice time, posting a blazing 68.9, while I managed to pull off my best qualifying result of the season – third- with a 69.3. Late in the session, I was on pace for a 68.6 by using the draft of a GhostSpeed Racing car, but had to compromise my line in sector two as the sheer speed of the lap caused me to catch an opponent in a tight section of the track. I guess this dismisses any theory that Risto was using a RAM Hack, since if the car moved out of the way, I would have had the pole, and I’m terrible. Teammate Guus Verver started fourth, and Walk Racing as a whole took up three of the first four grid spots.

Neto Nascimento struggled in qualifying and started 14th. This would have huge implications in the points battle between himself and Verver.

GSC 2015-05-30 14-48-04-08The width of the track prevented any serious incidents from occurring at the start, though I was promptly passed by two GhostSpeed cars and fell down to fifth at the end of the first lap. The field spread out at a rapid rate, Kappet driving in an entirely different zipcode mere minutes into the race. I made attempts to get around the 9 of Fabio Assucano and start climbing through the field with the Push-To-Pass system, but he countered with a textbook bump and run in turn two that moved me up the race track like I had done to him at Cascavel a few weeks prior.

I love shit like this; far too often people whine about moves like this and consider it dirty driving, but you have no idea how awesome this is when both guys know what they’re doing and understand it’s just part of the game.

GSC 2015-05-30 14-51-52-05GSC 2015-05-09 15-01-58-85During the early stages of the race, it became apparent how setup dependent these cars are. The top five cars were separated by huge gaps and it seemed impossible for people to gain on each other – even with my extremely conservative driving, I was pulling away from the dudes behind me with relative ease.

But keeping an eye on the leaderboard, things started to get weird.

GSC 2015-05-30 14-55-17-45About fifteen minutes into the race, a yellow flag popped up in sector three, and I moved up from fifth to fourth as Idrove by GhostSpeed driver Sergio Junior parked on the side of the track. The gap to Guus Verver had also been eradicated, as he was now directly in front of me. Sergio had been running second when he and Verver had made incidental contact that wrecked both of the cars. Junior’s momentum was lost, but Verver drove away with light damage from the incident. Despite Verver’s compromised car, I still couldn’t catch the guy.

GSC 2015-05-30 14-45-05-49And it seemed like nobody could catch anybody, Even after a slip up that saw the two GhostSpeed cars behind me reel me in by two seconds, I cooled myself down and slowly but surely drove away from them again. These cars are really loose when directly behind somebody, but this was a whole new level of setup dependency that we hadn’t seen all season.

GSC 2015-05-30 14-57-08-28As the picture shows, pitting was pretty hectic. For the past three races, I’d been lucky and would find myself on an empty pit road by starting the race with 68 liters. Today, not so much. Not only would I barely avoid the 39 of Miguel Lopes, but I’d also rub fenders with Guus Verver, pulling out directly in front of him and squeezing him into the wall. Exiting the pits, we were thrown into a mess of backmarkers, lapped cars, and lead lap cars – although in typical RaceDepartment fashion, all of them were extremely kind to the front runners and pulled off to the side at the earliest opportunity.

GSC 2015-05-30 14-58-34-67Not everyone managed to keep their cool as the final minutes of the race approached, as the 74 of Jon Hicken, who was not on the lead lap, blew the braking point into turn three and nearly totaled Verver. Thankfully, the 86 was able to drive away from the incident unharmed, and once again easily pulled away from me. Each lap, Verver was able to extend the gap by about two tenths of a second.

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While Risto Kappet easily drove off into the sunset for the victory, holding on to fourth place proved to be more difficult that I’d imagined it would be. The 39 of Miguel Lopes used up as much Push-To-Pass as he could in order to reel me in, but just couldn’t get the job done, even with a really great divebomb attempt in turn three. In order to fend him off, I made a risky move and activated Push-To-Pass coming out of the hairpin, giving me some extra torque as we went up through the gears. This worked, and I held on for my highest finish of the season: fourth.

With Cooper gone and Nascimento having an uncharacteristically poor race where he failed to crack the top ten in points, this might move me up to third in the standings.

GSC 2015-05-30 14-45-57-26The setup we used this week was primarily developed by Risto Kappet, and since the track is not very challenging for the driver or hard on equipment, what he ran is what I ran. I think the only change I made was to the brake bias, but that’s a change everybody should be making anyways as it’s 100% user preference. I run 63:37, whereas Risto uses 60:40. This has been my favorite setup I’ve driven all year and is exactly what I want out of this car – it’s either loose or neutral in every corner, and really twitchy when making fast direction changes or on exit.

Just don’t drive behind other people because the lack of airflow over the car makes it super loose. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Download the setup HERE