I just drove the Nordschleife in iRacing… and it’s great.

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As the title says, I was fortunate enough to be introduced to the iRacing guys at the second-ever Sim-Racing Expo last weekend, and they were kind enough to let me have a quick go on their rig. Here’s what I found out!

This is iRacing’s second year as title sponsor to the Blancpain race here at the Nürburgring GP track. Last year’s event was BIG news here, thanks to a certain camera-laden Skoda Yeti and a very important press release soon after.

Followers of my YouTube channel will know that I’m also an occasional gamer, so I headed over to the Nürburgring Boulevard to find the iRacing stand. It didn’t take very long.

What followed was a bit of a blur. After a brief intro from ‘Ring-regular Robb Holland, I was ushered into a tight circle of spectators and let loose on a “60% finished” version of the Nordschleife. This is what it looked like (not me driving though!)…

DISCLAIMER: THIS IS NOT THE FINISHED MAP, JUST BARE-BONES, ETC…

Well, I was impressed. Even considering that only the surface of the Nordschleife and the barriers are even close to finished, it felt so ‘right’ and so natural my brain could barely believe it.

A look from outside shows just how remarkable the map of the ‘Ring really is.  Using aerial photography and laser-scanning with good-old-fashioned digital artists to recreate our favourite circuit:

And this is what it looked like on a TV replay:

Obviously there’s a lot still to add. Fences, trees, buildings etc… but judging by the accuracy of other circuits in the iRacing world (Spa, Brands, Zolder, to name just three I’ve seen) there’s no reason not to doubt that the Nordschleife could also be brick-by-brick, tree-by-tree accurate.

Loading times for the uncompressed alpha-test of the track were reliably epic, but once loaded it ran like a dream.

You can be sure that I’ll be keeping tabs of this latest addition to the Nürburgring’s virtual family. On the same day the latest Xbox driving game, Forza Motorsport 6, also ran a real-car vs. console car challenge. You can check it out below from 3h55m31s.

Needless to say, if the Forza title was anywhere near as realistic as iRacing, or my current favourite Assetto Corsa, I would be telling you more. But just a few minutes in the demo booth proved to me it isn’t.

iRacing boasts an impressive 55,000 strong communuity with all kinds of real-life drivers, hobby racers and virtual racers mixing it up in serious events. The possibilities of time trials, endurance races and events with real prizes seem too good to be true. But I think I’ll be delving into this virtual racing world more in the very near future.

Until then…

 

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