iFinish 407th – iRacing Blog, Day 33

Day 33: June 26th, 2013

It ends with a whimper. After some chaotic races at Laguna Seca, the 2013 Season 2B iRacing Mazda Cup is over. As always, here’s a video if you’d prefer watching that instead:

Laguna Seca’s an interesting track, if only because it’s one of the few race tracks I’ve experienced repeatedly over several racing games. My time with Forza 4 helped out quite a bit in providing the general driving line and tactics for the course, but there are nuances that iRacing’s cars and system create. For one, turn six, an uphill left before the iconic corkscrew, is far scarier. Turn too early, and receive an off-track incident point and a furled black flag for course cutting. Turn too late, and receive the same incident point and risk losing control. The margin of error feels smaller with penalties on the line, and building a rhythm is tough for a turn that requires very sudden input.

My initial lap times at Laguna Seca were garbage, and this was frustrating until I watched replays with cars much faster than me. The real problem isn’t my driving line around the track, which is fine. Instead, I’m just taking it too slow, without a healthy amount of aggression. Once I started attacking turns intelligently, my lap times started to improve by a couple of seconds.

If I’m being honest, the key was to reject the Laguna Seca I had become accustomed to, and accept the Laguna Seca iRacing presented me, slippy MX-5 and all. My results weren’t great, but at least I finally built up a rhythm that I can improve on over time.

So the season’s over. It was short, but was a great opening learning experience for iRacing. It’s quite the good introduction to this service; after all, if the 20-minute races from either introductory cup aren’t enjoyable enough for a person’s driving urge, there’s a good chance that the higher-level races won’t be much fun, either. After all, most cars beyond the MX-5 are harder to control, and the races ramp up in time investment. Eventually, 20 minutes could become an hour or more, and if that sounds more boring than exciting, iRacing is most certainly not worth its cost. For me, that’s totally worth the time. Money’s yet to be determined, but a few hours of racing has never turned me off.

I won’t speak to the oval cars, as I’ve heard that some of the cars beyond the JR Motorsports Street Stock are a hell of a lot more fun, but they’re still a larger time investment moving up to faster cars.

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As the title of this blog implies, out of 5,636 drivers, I finished 407th in this Mazda Cup season. Top 7% or so. That’s not bad, but obviously I would have work to do if I wanted to contend for a championship. Thankfully, that’s not my aim right now – I’d rather move on to a series where I want to contend.

This brings me to a point I brought up in my last blog. Part of my discussion of my various career paths and championship choice in iRacing revolved around series attendance, and which series featured decent amounts of drivers. I decided my assumptions from brief observations weren’t good enough, and instead evaluated eight weeks of racing from every series.

Those of you who liked my older stat posts might enjoy this.

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Here’s the day-by-day table based on those eight weeks. I kept my tally to eight weeks in order to remove some bias caused by series going to a free or otherwise desired track, as compared to a less-popular course. I also cut “Monday’s” observed times to two hours, which ends up being 8:00 PM EDT to 10:00 PM EDT on Sunday for me. The days are based on GMT here, see, and quite frankly, I’m not going to attempt a week’s race after Sunday, when I’d normally start getting ready for work.

The day-by-day is all nice and dandy, but seriously, a total by series is way more helpful.

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There we go.

As you can tell, Skip Barber is indeed freakin’ popular, as I suggested last week. What I didn’t suggest is that the Spec Racer Fords and Global Challenge would be the next two popular series by attendance (or, more specifically, attendance good enough to make races count for official points). I think there might be some bias due to the Global Challenge using a relatively new KIA in its races and the Spec Ford series being the last bastion for that car, but it’s surprising nevertheless.

It also turns out that my favored Grand Touring Cup isn’t all that hot in attendance. Go figure.

Oh, and one more image, just to show the obvious:

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This just in: iRacing is more frequented on the weekends. Shocking, I know.

Based on this data I’ve compiled, along with your comments in the last blog, it seems like the Skip Barber Race Series is my logical next step in the world of iRacing. I’ll go down that path in four weeks, but until then, I see the Grand Touring Cup has a race back at where it all started for me: Summit Point Raceway.

Let’s see how it goes with some experience under the belt and tougher competition, yeah? I’m looking forward to it.

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