I’ve been racing in the week 13 events this week (as much as possible) and generally having a good time away from the consideration of the SR and iRating systems.
After last seasons 13th week I really began to appreciate the safety rating and iRating systems, not only because it meant other drivers were safer, but because of the effect it had on ME. Last time around I found myself creeping slightly into bad habits, such as pushing a bit too hard, that kind of thing. With no real penalty for spinning (or just driving irresponsibly) it is all too easy to fall into similar habits. The other issue was with disconnections (again, mea culpa). When there is no iRating at stake it’s too easy to drop out of races. Grids of 30 end up with just a handful of finishers.
This time there are official series to go with the unofficial series, so while there is mayhem in the fun series the official series should still offer safe and fair driving. I’ve only tried the rookie Solstice series, and the driving was generally good with no disconnections. The new tracks are a lot of fun (Summit short and Lowe’s road course) but from the experience I had the races are still too frequent (at 30 minute spacing) for decent grids. The race I had put me in a very weak field so whilst it was fun the main competition was against myself and my own demons (self spinning, etc). I’d prefer to see one hour spacing for the 13th week – let’s get 100 entrants for these sessions and give the matchmaking some numbers to work with!
I’m not able to use the Mazda on the ovals as I don’t own the tracks yet. I was planning on buying Milwaukee but I need to wait for the trucks to arrive as I want to get the discount for purchasing six items. If the trucks are held for much longer I’ll miss the chance to run the Mazda on ovals, which is a big shame as it seems to be an excellent combination.
Finally I had my first experience of the crazy Radical SR8 at Sebring… I was very thankful that this series was unofficial as I had to learn the car, the track, and develop a setup all in a short space of time. Being able to compete without worrying about iRating and SR was definitely a bonus here. The track is a great course, and I certainly do love the Radical but I clearly need to spend a lot of time learning how to set the car up efficiently.
As it is I joined a Radical race last night and had an absolute blast. 5th to 2nd on turn one (which wasn’t as bad as I expected) and I was following the leader until lap two when I hit a lag patch and got a phantom black flag…. I had to clear that and fell back six seconds to the leader. The next 12 laps were intense, as I was lapping on the limit, lap after lap. Each lap saw my concentration ebb away and it was so completely draining. In the last few laps I was able to refine my line and my laptime started to fall – in fact I had an excellent chase to the leader which saw me take the six second lead down to 0.6 all in the last three laps. One more lap and I think I might have had a passing opportunity!
Still, an overwhelming experience and I am excited and hesitant in equal parts to race these cars in a 50 minute B level race in season 4!
Update - The anticipated software update has arrived and the trucks have arrived! I bought another bunch of content including Phoenix, Milwaukee and the truck themselves (amongst others!)
The truck is great – the cockpit interior oozes quality and is several steps ahead of what Nascar 2003 delivered (and rightly so), but the new tracks are even more impressive. Phoenix sets a new quality standard as far as I’m concered!
I’ve since been able to try the Mazda at Milwaukee and true to reports, it is an excellent adventure! The car is a darty, spirited racer and the race I had was a LOT of fun. I also snuck in a Solstice race at Lowe’s which was absolutely cracking! Not in terms of result, but sheer fun. 18 cars nipping around the short track, and drafting battles on the back leg means this is a combo I will definitely be going back to in season 4 (weeks four and ten!).