(File pix) A woman enjoying virtual racing. EPA-EFE Photo

GONE are the days when video racing games were seen as a waste of time.

Racing simulators (sim) have become so realistic today that the motorsport industry: car manufacturers, track owners, and even licence holders of some of the biggest races in the world, are starting to pay serious attention to them.

‘Sim’ is increasingly being used as a platform to identify talent for real on-track racing with big names such as Nissan and Sepang International Circuit (SIC) offering eChampionship winners a sponsored slot in a real racing team.

There are various companies producing “sim” racing software for both console formats such as the

PlayStation and Xbox as well as the PC.

Among them are RaceRoom, which SIC have selected to run their eMotorsports competitions on, most notably the recently launched E-Malaysia Championship Series (E-MCS) which offers competitors a chance to win a full-season sponsored seat in the actual Malaysia Championship Series (MCS) next year.

RaceRoom Malaysia technical account manager Jimmy Lim said that RaceRoom — coupled with the necessary setup of force-feedback equipped steering wheel, which transmits vibrations simulating under or oversteer, wheel slippage and road pedals and seating rig, offers a 98 per cent real experience compared to actually racing on track.

“RaceRoom is owned by KW Automotive GmbH which makes some of the best racing suspension components in the world. They have long been involved in racing and sharealot of the telemetry (data) and physics from the races they are involved in to help make RaceRoom as real as possible,” said Jimmy.

“In addition to our realistic tracks, which have been made as accurate as possible using original blueprints, I would say this makes RaceRoom very close to actual racing.

“In fact many European drivers use RaceRoom when they are not able to get out on track during the winter months.”

RaceRoomis free-to-play but offers many in-game purchase options for tracks and car models. To purchase the Sepang Track and car used in the E-MCS competition, it costs just under RM40, which makes it incredibly affordable.

In addition to a PC and monitor which meet RaceRooms’ minimum requirement, a “sim” racer would also need to purchase a steeringwheel and pedals which can be clip-mounted onto a normal table but for added realism, a “sim” rig with racing seat is a must.

Besides RaceRoom , there are also a number of other reputable “sim” racing options available such as rFactor, GranTurismo and Project Cars.


THE HARDWARE

Here NSTP Sport are looking at some of the affordable hardware for those looking to get into “sim” racing whether using console or PC based simulator software or games.

CONSOLE OR PC

You will need an Xbox, Playstation or PC which meets the requirements of the “sim” you are using and a monitor.

Note: Prices may vary from those shown here.

STEERING WHEEL, SHIFTERS AND PEDALS

There are many options in this area in terms of budget with the cheaper ones generally offering less realistic force feedback.

Logitech G29 Driving Force Racing Wheel and Pedals (RM1,799)

The G29 is a highly popular option due to its affordable price, decent specs and compatibility with many race rigs.

Specs:

• Compatible with PS3, PS4 and PC.

• 900 degrees rotation

• Dual motor force feedback with helical gearing

• Paddle shifters

• Pedals with clutch

Fanatec CSL Elite Starter kit (RM4,400)

Fanatec produces some of the best ‘sim’ racing equipment in ‘sim’ racing and commands a premium for it. The CSL Elite is a great entry point for those looking to experience it without spending a fortune.

Specs:

•Compatible with PS4, PC, (different variant available for Xbox)

• 1080 degrees rotation

• Single belt drive unit with low lag and cogging

•Large ball bearings for minimal friction

• Rev light bar in the wheelbase

•Quick release system

Thrustmaster T150 PRO and pedals (RM1,699)

Another affordable option: The T150 PRO delivers similar bang for your money as theG29 with a slightly more advanced hybrid gear-belt feedback system.

Specs:

• Compatible with PS3, PS4 and PC

• 1080 degrees rotation

•Mixed belt-pulley and gears system.

• Paddle shifters

•Pedals with clutch

RACING SEATS AND FRAMES

Having the right seat to race on and the necessary frame to mount your steering and pedals isimportant to ensure a realistic experience.

Some versions also offer mounts for manual shifters and monitors. Note that you have to buy the steering, pedals, shifters, monitors separately.

here are some of the popular variants which are available in Malaysia.

Playseat Alcantara (RM1,900)

Specs:

• Compatible with most steering wheels and pedals on the market

• Black alcantara material used for seats

• Reinforced steel and tubular construction for stability

• Foldable design allows for convenient storage

DXRacer Simulator Set (RM1,599)

Specs:

• Compatible with Logitech steering wheels

• Heavy duty and adjustable frame

• Modular design for easy assembly

• Includes two shifter stands

Whitebox Racing Simulator S1+ Red - (RM2,159)

Specs:

• Compatible with Logitech and Thrustmaster wheels

•PU mixed fabric sports seat

• TV bracket for 22 to 55 inch screens.


What the pros say

“I think this whole eMotorsports thing is going to grow bigger, there is definitely a career in it for sure. McLaren is investing in an eMotorsports driver and Fernando Alonso has also started his own eMotorsports team and he believes the next generation of drivers will come from eMotorsports. It is not 100 per cent the same as real driving as you do not feel the G-forces and it is also very hard to simulate the grip levels on a damp circuit but as a learning tool to practise and learn the basics of racing, it is definitely spot on.” - JAZEMAN JAAFAR, Current World Endurance Championship driver, Former F1 test driver

“There has been an increase in attention to eMotorsports recently. We saw in 2017 that both Formula One and MotoGP focusing on their eMotorsports initiatives and FIM even presenting prizes to their eMotorsport winners at their annual ceremony. Like it or not, it is here to stay and we have to join in. We started with our first event during the (Malaysian round) of Asian Le Mans and now with E-MCS. This (offering real race seat) is not the first time it has been done as Nissan have done it before. Itis a great chance — for those who previously did not have a chance to race—to get a real race seat in reality.” - DATUK RAZLAN RAZALI, SIC chief executive officer

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