Review: Why Assetto Corsa Competizione’s v1.9 update could be its most important yet

Ross McGregor
Assetto Corsa Competizione’s v1.9 update and GT World Challenge 2023 DLC content pack has dropped. We examine what’s new in Kunos Simulazioni’s GT3 simulator and whether it represents a step forward for the Official GT World Challenge game.
Assetto Corsa Competizione's v1.9 update: its most important yet?

The waiting is over. Assetto Corsa Competizione’s v1.9 game update and GT World Challenge 2023 DLC pack has finally dropped for PC players, offering fans of Kunos Simulazioni’s GT3 simulator a chance to drive three fresh GT3 cars on a brand new track. 

But the extra content is only half the story, as Aris Vasilakos – Head of Vehicle & Handling R&D at Kunos – has outlined the numerous changes made to the game’s tyre and suspension model, designed to eliminate the possibility of unrealistic set-ups (the infamous ‘toe hack’, for example) being much faster than organically produced baselines. 

Below, we outline what Kunos has changed in v1.9 of Assetto Corsa Competizione (ACC), why it has been changed and whether we think the Italian studio has achieved its goals.

We also examine the new content, including three cars: the Ferrari 296 GT3, the Lamborghini Huracán GT3 Evo2 and the Porsche 911 GT3R (992); and one track: the Circuit Ricardo Tormo. We’ve also handily uploaded Valencia set-ups for all three cars to help get you up and running. The Porsche tune even helped our very own John Munro taste victory in Kunos’ official 2023 GT World Challenge DLC stream just last night! (18th April 2023.)

Check out our set-ups at the base of the article.

Assetto Corsa Competizione, v1.9 update, GT World Challenge 2023 DLC, Valencia, Porsche 911 GT3 R (992)

Assetto Corsa Competizione v1.9 new tyre model 

Kunos has gone to great lengths to improve ACC’s tyre behaviour in v1.9. The team has focused on improving the way tyres respond to high or low pressure settings, with negative consequences more prominent when choosing extreme ‘esport’ settings. 

As well as expanding and altering the optimum tyre pressure range to between 26 and 27 PSI, Kunos has tidied up how to extract the best grip from the pressure range. Lower optimal values – 26.0-26.3 PSI thereabouts – will create more tyre flex, providing better cornering feel and grip in slower turns.  

Higher optimal values – 26.7-27.0, will reduce tyre flex, allowing the tyre to maintain cornering stability under high-speed load. Put simply, lower pressures will be better for slower tracks, and higher pressures are better optimised for tracks with fast corners. As ever, finding a balance is key to maximising laptimes across a stint.

Assetto Corsa Competizione, v1.9 update, GT World Challenge 2023 DLC, Valencia, Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo 2
A range of 2023 liveries have been added to ACC in v1.9, with more to come in future!

Heat generation across the tyre has also been altered, with too hot outside or inside temperatures resulting in decreased grip. This wasn’t always the case pre-v1.9 when maximum negative toe settings across the front axle would provide great turn-in and grip, with less of the negative effects one would expect in such an extreme set-up.  

Kunos hope to change this with v1.9, prompting esports players to use more believable settings to achieve fast laptimes (ideally the temperature spread between the inside and outside of the tyre should be kept to less than 15 degrees Celsius for optimal grip). 

Sudden spikes in tyre temperature – caused by sliding for example – will also not overheat the ‘core’ tyre temperature as quickly as in v1.8, where a spin would essentially ruin your tyres for the rest of a stint. Very welcome news for the majority of ACC players, then! 

One issue I spotted while testing was the in-game tyre widget didn’t correlate to the new optimum pressures, a bug which will be squashed soon after the DLC release, if not before (update: it was). 

Assetto Corsa Competizione, v1.9 update, GT World Challenge 2023 DLC, Valencia, Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo 2

Bump stops 

Bump stop modelling has also received an overhaul. In previous versions of ACC, the bump stops could run with an infinite amount of travel, meaning players could run with softer springs (better for mechanical grip and lowers ride height under aerodynamic load) without all the negative knock-on effects. 

Now, bump stops have a maximum range of 20-30mm, forcing players to run stiffer springs at high-speed tracks and work on optimising damper bump and rebound settings. 

Before we evaluate the tyre and suspension model in ACC, let’s take a look at the new cars and track introduced in the update. 

Assetto Corsa Competizione, v1.9 update, GT World Challenge 2023 DLC, Valencia, Ferrari 296 GT3

Circuit Ricardo Tormo – Valencia 

Famous for hosting MotoGP racing since 1999, Circuit Ricardo Tormo – better known as Valencia – has played host to Formula 1 testing, Formula E and DTM, with the nascent F1 Academy visiting the Spanish venue later this year. 

Being completely new to Valencia (unless a few GTR 2 laps on 13 years ago counts), my first few laps were filled with mild disappointment. The second-gear hairpins and late apex turns felt frustrating to negotiate and rhythm-breaking. 

However, after 10 laps or so your inputs move into step with that rhythm, with each section of the track linking together beautifully. Turn 1 is a 100mph+ test of bravery: it’s all too easy to run wide and invalidate your lap. The run-off area is generous, however.

Valencia, Valentino Rossi mural, Assetto Corsa Competizione
The Doctor is a hero at Valencia

The uphill right-hander of Curva Champi Herreros is another corner requiring stern focus as it leads to a medium-length sprint up to the final bend. Its exit also consists of vertiginous kerbing, testing v1.9’s latest suspension updates to the very maximum.

There are handily placed white marks dotted around the course too, operating as perfect brake markers – ideal considering Valencia’s lack of landmarks – although the blind Turn 5 requires a bit of experience and feel to get right. Surprisingly, for such a flat-looking track Valencia boasts some subtly cambered curves. This forces you to use the track’s elevation to pivot and fire the car out of turns. It’s a delight when done right.

Watch out for the pit exit, though: it directs cars straight onto the racing line. Eep.

Assetto Corsa Competizione, Valencia, v1.9 update, GT World Challenge 2023 DLC

Overtaking 

In terms of overtaking points, the 800m long front straight is an obvious place to slipstream past opponents, with a dive down into the tight Turn 2 also possible after piling on the pressure through Turn 1. With many corners featuring just one obvious racing line overtaking may be at a premium, but thanks to a few wide-open hairpins divebombing could be a valid overtaking strategy. You have been warned! 

Overall, then, Valencia is a track that should grow on the majority of ACC players. The first and last sections of the track are good fun to master, with a slightly fiddly second sector perhaps taking the shine off. You can’t argue with the way it’s been represented in-game, however, with all the track details present and correct – including a huge mural of Valentino Rossi. 

I’m sure he’ll love seeing that when he visits the track for Round 8 of the GT World Challenge Sprint Cup on the 18th of September.

Assetto Corsa Competizione, Valencia, v1.9 update, GT World Challenge 2023 DLC
Overtaking is for the late-brakers

Ferrari 296 GT3 

New to GT World Challenge series across the globe, Ferrari’s 296 GT3 is Maranello’s replacement for the venerable 488 GT3 Evo. Being mid-engined, the car boasts excellent weight distribution and has been designed with downforce in mind, resulting in slower top speeds than the 488 (with comparable set-ups). 

Around Valencia, the car instantly feels stable and refreshingly able to handle the larger kerbs with zero issues – a pleasant change from the 488 in v1.8. One large negative point, however, is the way it sounds.  

The 296’s turbocharged V6 motor produces a less sonorous cockpit tone than previous generations of GT3 Ferraris (from the naturally aspirated 458 backwards), which is a little disappointing given we’ve had to endure the 488’s flat-sounding V8 throughout ACC’s history. (It’s not Kunos’ fault, however, the developers are mimicking the real car! You may even enjoy the sound, it’s a subjective thing after all.) 

The occasional turbo chatter isn’t enough to redeem its exhaust note, sadly, but externally the car sounds sweet enough – if a little on the quiet side. Thankfully, it looks aggressive and is the quickest of the three DLC cars around Valencia.

Assetto Corsa Competizione, v1.9 update, GT World Challenge 2023 DLC, Valencia, Ferrari 296 GT3
It’s a thing of beauty, the 296 GT3

Porsche 911 GT3 R (992) 

Compared to the Ferrari, the Porsche 911 GT3 R (992) felt more understeery from the off, which is understandable given its rear-engine layout (911s generally require the front tyres to be loaded up fully for the front-end to bite properly). 

Once the intricacies of the Porsche’s unique handling have been mastered, the Porsche feels extremely forgiving, with the rearwards weight-bias enhancing its propulsion off Valencia’s numerous tight bends. 

Weissach’s finest also feels more forgiving than the Ferrari on the Aggressive Preset set-up, but after a little tweaking doesn’t quite attain the same laptimes as the Prancing Horse, being around one-to-two tenths of a second off with 62l of fuel onboard. 

In terms of sounds, the 992-flavoured Porsche sounds rampant compared to the Ferrari, with an extra zing as its hits the upper echelons of 8,000rpm. Tonally, it’s different to the 991.2 but still recognisably a free-revving flat six. Nice. 

Assetto Corsa Competizione, v1.9 update, GT World Challenge 2023 DLC, Valencia, Porsche 911 GT3 R (992)
The 992 version of the GT3 R cannot be mistaken for anything other than Porsche (or a VW Beetle, ahem)

Lamborghini Huracán GT3 Evo2 

The Lamborghini Huracán GT3 Evo2 enters the fray in ACC with a unique new set-up option: engine brake maps. Although still a work in progress, the car’s engine brake maps can be changed via the standard ACC ECU map selector. 
For a quick guide on the new engine brake map option in ACC, check out our companion article where we outline what engine brake maps are, what they do and their possible functions in ACC. 

In terms of styling, the Huracán GT3 Evo2 is based on the road-going STO model, looking – and sounding – brutish. Honestly, it deserves an ASBO. The trademark V10 engine is the sweetest of the three cars in my opinion, albeit sounding exactly the same as previous generations of Lambo (and the Audi R8, for that matter). 

As expected, it feels very similar to its predecessors – including the Huracán Super Trofeo EVO2 from the Challengers Pack DLC – but more effort is required to produce similar laptimes to the Ferrari and Porsche. The car has been designed with more aero performance in mind, coming at the cost of higher drag, theoretically leading to lower top speeds than its predecessors.

After a little fettling of the set-up, I could more or less match the Porsche in terms of pace, but the Ferrari was still two-tenths out of reach. The Lamborghini is extremely stable, however, and consistently quick laps were achievable. 

The car also gains a TC2 setting, allowing players to further fine-tune the Lambo’s traction control application.

Assetto Corsa Competizione, v1.9 update, GT World Challenge 2023 DLC, Valencia, Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo 2

Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo… 1.5? 

Yes, you read that correctly. As well as three new cars the Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo has undergone significant updates in ACC’s v1.9 update, including increased downforce thanks to more efficient aerodynamics.  

We’ve written a short article outlining some of the alterations already, so check it out if you want to find out more about how the car’s performance has been updated. Essentially, it’s more of the same: a very stable platform with plenty of traction and V8 grunt.

And it’s unbelievably fast around Valencia on the default aggressive preset set-up.

Assetto Corsa Competizione, v1.9 update, GT World Challenge 2023 DLC, Valencia, Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo 1.5
The Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo has undergone a revamp

Is v1.9 Assetto Corsa Competizione’s most important update yet? 

My first port of call when testing v1.9 of ACC was to explore the most extreme set-up options – mainly the infamous negative toe hack, where setting extreme toe values garnered huge time gains with less of the negative consequences. 

The good news is that when I tried it in v1.9 the laptime gains were minimal compared to more conservative set-ups. It’s clear from initial testing that Kunos has worked hard to update its tyre model to ensure more realism than before.  

Assetto Corsa Competizione, v1.9 update, GT World Challenge 2023 DLC, Valencia, Ferrari 296 GT3

The way tyres can now undergo a heat cycle – after a spin, for example – and gradually return to a constant core temperature is impressive, all the more so given this would destroy tyre performance in v1.8 (speaking from several bitter personal experiences in SRO Esports last year). 

Expanding the window of optimal tyre performance to 1PSI (between 26 and 27 PSI) is a good move too, making the game more accessible for players uninterested in detailed set-up. Even outside these parameters, grip doesn’t suddenly disappear, meaning a slight miscalculation in set-up won’t spell disaster for your race. Which is great if you just want to start the game and drive. 

Assetto Corsa Competizione, v1.9 update, GT World Challenge 2023 DLC, Valencia, Ferrari 296 GT3

Suspension of disbelief 

But perhaps the most noticeable element of v1.9 is the suspension and bump stop improvements, making cars like the McLaren 720S GT3 and Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo – normally recalcitrant over kerbing like the Variante Alta chicane at Imola – much more pliant. 

In previous versions of ACC, hard suspension hits would often lead to bouncing, making the car lose control. This was a scenario that could occur with the old infinite-travel bump stops, but thankfully is much improved. However, don’t expect to hit the Zolder chicane at 100mph and continue on your merry way: suspension is more forgiving but not that forgiving. 

Assetto Corsa Competizione, v1.9 update, GT World Challenge 2023 DLC, Valencia, Porsche 911 GT3 R (992)

The new content is also high quality. Although most fans would struggle to identify the Lamborghini Huracán GT3 Evo2 and Porsche 911 GT3R (992) as all-new cars (they are), the ACC unveiling of the Ferrari 296 GT3 ACC arrives impressively close to the car’s real-world debut (24 Hours of Daytona across the 28th-29th of January this year), enhancing its fan appeal in ACC.  

Who doesn’t want to drive a new Ferrari, after all?! 

All three cars are close in performance too, with the Ferrari enjoying a 0.1s-0.2s advantage over the Porsche at Valencia. The Lamborghini is able to match it with set-up work but is trickier to extract pace from initially. And the good news continues as there’s a range of 2023 liveries in-game, with more to come in future.

Assetto Corsa Competizione, v1.9 update, GT World Challenge 2023 DLC, Valencia, Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo 2

Valencia is a strong addition to ACC too, featuring all the attention-to-detail you’d expect from Kunos, although in terms of racing it remains to be seen whether the track can provide a lot of overtaking. Nevertheless, it’s a solid challenge and has a nice flow in GT3 machinery. 

Kunos has also promised a revised Balance of Performance for the upcoming SRO Esports season, aiming for near-perfect parity across all the competing cars.

But the star of the v1.9 show is undoubtedly ACC’As improved tyre and suspension model. Nearly four years on from release, ACC continues to enhance its immersive GT3 racing reputation.

Is v1.9 the most important update for ACC? If you value having the ultimate ACC driving experience, then yes.

Assetto Corsa Competizione’s 2023 GT World Challenge DLC pack price

Assetto Corsa Competizione’s 2023 GT World Challenge DLC pack is out now for PC via Steam, for €12.99/£10.99/$12.99

Assetto Corsa Competizione Porsche 911 Gt3 R (992) Valencia set-up

Assetto Corsa Competizione Lamborghini Huracán GT3 Evo2 Valencia set-up

Assetto Corsa Competizione Ferrari 296 GT3 Valencia set-up

Assetto Corsa Competizione, v1.9 update, GT World Challenge 2023 DLC, Valencia, Porsche 911 GT3 R (992)

Assetto Corsa Competizione v1.9 changelog


GENERAL:

  • Added Circuit Valencia Ricardo Tormo as DLC content.
  • Added new Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO2 as DLC content.
  • Added new Ferrari 296 GT3 as DLC content.
  • Added new Porsche 911 (992) GT3 R as DLC content.
  • Added a batch of new liveries for the 2023 GTWCH season.

GAMEPLAY/UI:

  • Added controller preset for Moza steering wheels.
  • Added support for new DLC track content in custom championship (via Open Series).
  • Fixed track selection not respecting user-defined order in Open Series championship mode.
  • Adjusted AI skill level for a number of gold and platinum-ranked drivers.

GRAPHICS:

  • Fixed an issue with certain cars receiving an incorrect visual offset in their pitstop position.

PHYSICS:

  • BOP adjustments.
  • Improved tyre model.
  • Improved tyre flex.
  • Improved tyre heat generation.
  • Improved tyre rolling resistance simulation.
  • Improved tyre footprint simulation.
  • Wider tyre pressure range (slicks 26-27psi).
  • Wider tyre temperature range (slicks 70°C-100°C).
  • Improved bumpstops simulation.
  • Improved suspension end of travel simulation.
  • Improved dampers simulation.
  • Improved electronics logic (TC1, TC2, ABS).
  • New variable engine braking simulation (Huracan EVO2).
  • Improved aeromap simulation on yaw and roll.

 

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