Thursday, 31 October 2013


Testing these cars every week is great fun, but it usually goes far from plan. Not being a significantly experienced racer, as well as pushing these cars to their limits when I'm not really familiar with them, results in my fender becoming good friends with the wall on many an occasion! The last two weeks in the classic F1 cars have been a joy but also a great challenge, and here's two videos of nothing but spins, near misses and crashes that I found particularly funny. Hope you enjoy!

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Test Drive Tuesday - McLaren MP4/4

So apparently I forgot to post last weeks TDT until 10 minutes ago - woops! So this week, we continue the advancement through the years in Formula 1 development with the 1988 McLaren MP4/4. This car looks and feels much more the modern F1 cars we see today.

Between the aerodynamics and the faster engine, the car has blazed up to 9 seconds off the lap records of all the other cars I've tested in the Test Drive Tuesdays. Despite my constant protests that I am much better in front wheel drive cars than I am rear wheel, I do technically have more simulator experience in F1 cars over the years - nearly 10 of them in fact! Despite the trouble I usually get myself into with rear wheel drives, with Formula 1 cars, I can just make them work which is good for my happiness!

So the MP4/4... well, it is fundamentally better than the previous two F1 classics in very way. Advances in aerodynamics make the world of difference in corners and with the faster engine, you can get good traction out of the corners, as well as being able to maintain a higher cornering speed. All round, the car is great fun to drive and isn't massively hard unless you try to push really really hard.

I had alot of fun in this car but sadly, at $18 on 50% discount and $36 normally, it was just too expensive to justify buying. If it comes down in price or can be bought as part of a worthwhile bundle, I would recommend you take it for a spin!

Test Drive Tuesday - McLaren M26

So, continuing with the new theme of TDT cars, we have another classic F1 car. This time, we have James Hunts McLaren M26 from 1977. I won't be able to get the video online until next week (for some, that might be a good thing), so this brief review will cover the car for now :p

After the Maserati 250F from last weeks TDT, 20 years of development in Formula 1 took place and the advancement in the car is visibly evident! In this edition, aerodynamics exist now, so the car is fitted with, albeit crude, front and rear wings to provide downforce as the car travels. The tyre width has greatly increased providing greater traction and stability on corners. In particular, the rear wheels are substantially larger than the front which provides increased grip on the rear wheels, which drive the car, thus providing better traction when accelerating. All these things together make for a car much better suited for taking on tracks with corners!

With a faster engine and a better suited body, the M26 performed much better than the Maserati 250F, and even a good couple of the supercars of weeks gone by! You can see how it compared overall on the Hotlaps page. The car handles very well and I didn't lose control all that often, however, it became quickly obvious from the off that my controller is broken: my upshift paddle keeps sticking, costing me *alot* of time on the track and I had to call it a night pretty early.

One interesting peculiarity I noticed about the Simraceway model is that, while the rear wing falls off if you so much as sneeze on it, the front wing and the wheels are impossible to remove from the car! I even tried a head on crash at around 120 miles and still, nothing comes off! So there are definitely a  few things that need sorted with the model, but otherwise I enjoyed the car. For $5.37 (or $2.68 on offer), it's not massively expensive if you enjoy your classic F1 cars and is pretty fun once you get into it.

Hopefully I can my controller fixed before next week!
Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Slight Re-purposing

So, as anyone who has been reading regularly, I have largely focused on reviews for Simraceway. The amount of time I have to spend on project work for university means I don't get much time to play games at all, let alone to go searching for, play and review mods, as I had originally promised I would.

As I enjoy racing alot, and I am currently preparing to start racing for real, I figured I could re-purpose the blog to talk a bit more about racing and the concepts behind it as well how well it is portrayed in the simulations and games we see today.

Truth be told - one of the first major projects I want to make once I get some time is a high-accuracy driving and racing simulator to evaluate many different concepts on civilian road driving as well as high speed racing. So this would give me a chance to collect my thoughts :p

Given my other simulator has died a miserable death, I'll probably stick to an inconsistent mix of racing and games!

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Test Drive Tuesday - Maserati 250F

So this weeks Test Drive Tuesday car was the first car since I started reviewing the TDT's that isn't a GT1/GTX supercar. Today we take a look a back to Formula 1 in 1957 with the Maserati 250F. The car was very interesting as I've never really delved much into classic cars - as I usually pipe: modern front wheel drives are my strong point. Despite its differences, the car had very similar characteristics to last weeks Koenigsegg Agera R, albeit for very different reasons. In the Koenigsegg, you had too much power, making it very easy to spin out. Whereas the Maserati is very much designed for speed in a straight line, hence the very narrow wheels,  and as a result the rear end loses traction very easily on the exits of corners.

Of course, it is quite difficult to comprehend why these cars were designed this way, but if you take a look back to the 50's, you find that grand prix tracks were very different from how we see them today. Back then, the gearboxes couldn't handle alot of gear changes before burning out, so it was preferable to find a route that allowed cars to get to their top speed and stay there. This meant that cornering wasn't really much of a concern when designing the cars and hence this is how finished product turns out!

So as a result of the narrow wheels, exiting corners was a bit perilous but once you got used to how the car handled, boy did it flow together well! In fact, the oversteer characteristic meant that if you nailed the corner entry, then you had very little input other than regulating the throttle so you didn't spin out. It doesn't sound like too much, but in practice, what it meant for me is that I could really push the car right to its limits - something I was never able to do with any of the previous cars - which was exhilarating. It really is just great fun knowing that one millimetre more on the throttle, or one degree round on the steering, and you've gone from a beautiful lap to being fodder for the tyre walls!

The alien nature of the car (compared to the more modern ones we deal with regularly on this game) does take a lot of getting used to and is still fairly challenging even after several hours practising, but is seriously fun and provides a very welcome brake from what has become a bit of a supercar-grind. Its funny to think that driving supercars could become boring! By this point, the Maserati has gone up to $15, so its a bit pricey, but if it ever comes down in price on is part of a bundle, I'd heartily recommend getting it!

This review has got me thinking a bit, and I might do a bit of a re-purposing of the blog for a while - more will follow in a day or two!

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Test Drive Tuesday(s) - Koenigsegg Agera R and Audi R18

So yeah, I kinda got wrapped up last week and wasn't able to do my weekly TDT, although I did race it and make a review video. Last week was the Audi R18 GTI prototype and this week was the ridiculous Koenigsegg Agera R. The reviews are below:

Audi R18 GTI

So, last week was the Audi R18 - a 24hr of Le Mans prototype contender. From a looks point of view, well, it had 16 headlights...... it was very strange and my sentiments are about the same for the driving style. The rev limiter is *very* low, and pretty much as soon as you got onto the power, you had to shift up again. To put it into context,  the rev limiter is 5000 rpm - the rev limiter in my Mini is 7000! In practice, what it means you need to take a whole different approach to driving a track. Generally, one thing that is conserved between cars racing on the same track is that the gear you take on the corners is usually the same. Sure, the speed is different, and you can take a different line or have a different braking point, but the Evo and the Indycar both the first corner at Watkins Glen in 2nd gear! In the Audi, however, you don't (except in the first corner at Watkins, so perhaps that was a bad example :p)! Because you are shifting alot earlier, you end up upshifting in the middle of the corner, which can destabilise the car mid-turn. So you have to relearn all the gears on a track from scratch for this car. Another thing about the gearing is that because you are upshifting so early, it lures you into a false sense of security that you can just slam on the power because you are in a high gear and consequently you'll end up exhaust-forward if you're not careful coming out the corners.

Another point of contention for me was the brakes. While it's not easy to lock up, the car becomes very unstable on braking and can make setting yourself up for corners very tricky! Overall, once I got to grips with the car, I found the car to be very fast, and it topped the tables at Bristol, Martinsville and Watkins Glen, and came a close second at all but Daytona. Sadly, I don't think I enjoyed the car enough to really recommend it and I spent most of the laps living in fear of the brake and accelerators. Which ties me nicely into (and you'll see why in the video):

Koenigsegg Agera R

This car made me sad. Having seen Top Gear once upon a time, I knew the presenters were very keen on the Koenigseggisseggggnignigsegigisegggnigseggniggsegg......... erm Koenigsegg, and I know it's a seriously fast car. With 850 kW of horsepower and 1627 NM of torque, the Agera R doubles the stats of all of the Test Drive Tuesday cars to date. With a 7 speed semi-sequential gearbox, this car has a top speed of 273 mph, so you would be forgiven for thinking it would blow all the other cars away. But when I saw the stats, that amount of torque sent alarm bells off in my head, and indeed, it was all too good to be true. The car is in fact *so* powerful, you can barely lay down the power without spinning out. Even as high as 4th gear, it's all to easy to spin out in a straight line. This trait meant that sadly, it is actually the SLOWEST of all the TDT cars I've driven, except for Daytona.

Even at Daytona, the fastest track in the game, you cant get close to the top speed of the car, with ~250mph being about the fastest I ever got. In fact, it was only AFTER I closed the game to write this did I discover it has a 7th gear. There is no possible way I could have used it on any track I visited though as it was just too fast. One oddity I did notice was that gears one and three were fairly standard, but gear two is a very very short gear, which took a little bit of getting used to!
Ultimately, this car could definitely go much much faster of these courses, but without traction control on, I'm not the one to do it and the best I could manage is very much sub-par for this car. As you can tell from the vidoe, I ended up getting very very.... I can't even say frustrated - just angry with this car! It wasn't a particularly enjoyable day, and I'm no hurry to purchase it!