Race three of Season 3 in iRacing’s Skip Barber series is at the mighty Suzuka circuit in Japan, using the same track configuration as the Formula 1 cars. Awesome! I’m familiar with this track from my adventures in F1 2010 there, as little as two weeks ago, when I finished a comfortable second place. I love the esses at the circuit. It’s pure smooth driving and once you get the line, your absolutely fly through there. I took the same line in the SBF2000 and was like greased lightening through that sector.
Suzuka Circuit Map
I did a practice session with Flouncy from atomic (and fellow F1 2010 competitor), who had already done a few races at the circuit, so he served as a benchmark. I got my times down to a 2:32, while he was doing 2:31’s, and had said that most of the pack was doing 2:30’s. Taking his advice that racing was the best experience, and going against my trend to do lots of practice, I entered the 1:45pm race. He and I were in different races on account of my considerably lower iRating. I was ranked 6th and started 8th. I forget to put it in first gear on the line, so when the pack took off I just sat there revving my engine. I was 12th when I got away.
I had no expectations other than I expected to do poorly, so I just circulated at my own pace, watching cars in front of me spin and take themselves and others, out. I got up into 2nd and was catching 1st, at about 0.5s a lap average, and pulling away from 3rd. It wasn’t enough to get the win at the flag but it was a satisfying drive.
Esses: My favourite sequence of turns in iRacing so far.
What impressed me more was how fun it was to drive a “real” track like Suzuka in a real simulator. Suzuka in iRacing looks so much better than F1 2010. Maybe it was because I was going slower. Maybe it was the triple monitors. I’m not sure. The Skippy felt magic too. I could slide it whenever I wanted and hold and correct the slide. It was so predictable.
Exiting Spoon for the straight before 130R
After the race I jumped straight into another practice session and immediately started banging out laps in the mid 2:30’s, 2:30.542 to be exact. Nice and 4th fastest of that session. Not bad for only having been on the track less than 90 minutes.
I raced again later in the day and scored another second place, proving it wasn’t a fluke. The only difference being I had way more incidents (9 versus 0) that time. I think it was because I had expectations of being competitive, so I tried harder to be faster, and that led to mistakes.
Suzuka is easily my favourite track so far. The two tracks you get in the bas package (Lime Rock and Okayama) don’t come anywhere near it. Road Atlanta was fun, but it’s nothing like Suzuka.