Hands-on: RaceRoom’s new Astra TCR and Vålerbanen circuit

Hands-on: RaceRoom’s new Astra TCR and Vålerbanen circuit

To kick off this week, RaceRoom added two items of new content that had been recently teased – the Opel Astra TCR and the Norwegian circuit Vålerbanen. With both items now available for the free-to-play PC simulator, we dived in to see what they were like.

First up, the new venue. Vålerbanen is in Eastern Norway, close to the Swedish border. It is a permanent facility used for a combination of winter car development, motorsport and the Gatebil car festival. With its flat surface, tall track-side trees and open surroundings, I get the impression that the Wreckfest development team were perhaps inspired by this track in the creation of their own fictional locations.

Vålerbanen circuit RaceRoom

The lap starts with a tricky right-left chicane. In a TCR car, you go down one gear and hop over the kerbs. Around the back of the circuit is a medium-length straight that’s very wide, flowing into a third-gear left-hander, the main overtaking opportunity in my opinion. The lap finishes with two corners than are reminiscent of the last sector of Motorsport Arena Oschersleben.

The track has been used for the Swedish/Scandinavian Touring Car Championship over the years, and notably was included in STCC The Game on PC, an expansion pack for Race 07 which was developed by SimBin. SimBin morphed into Sector3 Studios who create RaceRoom, so there’s no great surprise that such a location has eventually ended up here.

Vålerbanen STCC The Game
Vålerbanen in STCC The Game – if you get air at this point, you’re about to eat some gravel

I booted up STCC recently to compare and contrast, and that game was even updated with advertising billboards promoting RaceRoom later in its life. The driving experience still holds up well, but as you can see, the visuals in the modern-day version are drastically improved.

This venue is tight, twisty and features a couple of difficult sections. I should make for some intense online races and is reasonably priced at £2.57/$3.65/€2.98. In line with Slovakia Ring, but significantly cheaper than Silverstone or WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.

As for the Opel Astra TCR, it drives much like the other TCR vehicles in the game. That is, front-wheel-drive touring car handling characteristics and a recalcitrant paddle-shift gearbox that never seems to downshift when you want it to.

I’ve really started to enjoy the TCR cars in RaceRoom thanks to the ranked online play including some in the rotation of late. The Astra is a nice option that adds variety to the grid, so long as you are aware that the driving experience isn’t fresh. It’s priced at £3.43/$4.87/€3.98 with one livery, and 13 other liveries are available at an additional cost.

The Astra sits within the less-used TC Cup category, alongside some Hyundai i30N TCR liveries and the Lada Vesta TCR, so you won’t find it with any of the WTCR pack – simply because it hasn’t been used in recent WTCR seasons. This is a model that has mainly found prominence in the ADAC TCR Germany series and endurance racing.

Opel Astra TCR RaceRoom

The Opel Astra TCR is a welcome addition, but it’s Vålerbanen that should capture your attention first. RaceRoom does a superb job of modelling tracks that you just don’t see in other racing game or simulators and this addition continues that fine tradition.

As part of the recent update, there have also been changes to the GT4 class Balance of Performance and other small tweaks. We’ve included the full changelog below, which also prepares the game for tonight’s ADAC GT Masters Esports Championship which you can watch live on Traxion.GG.

RaceRoom Racing Experience 31st May 2021 update changelog

GT4 Base BOP rework

  • All GT4 leaderboards were cleared
  • All cars – Reduced differences in fuel usage / Fuel tank capacities
  • All cars – Slight reduction of torque and tyre grip
  • All cars – Default tyre pressure changes to improve consistency on longer runs.
  • BMW M4 GT4 – Reduced downforce
  • KTM – Slightly less downforce on the front, slightly more drag
  • Lotus Evora – Power increase
  • Porsche 718 – Increased downforce, increased drag, increased torque, reduced weight
  • Porsche 981 MR – Reduced torque, reduced downforce, increased weight

Other changes

  • Added content for upcoming ADAC GT3 and GT4 esport series
  • Added content for upcoming store releases
  • Fixed dark cars on Road America when real time reflections were disabled.
  • Spectator – Fixed Qualifying results disappearing from broadcast overlays as soon as the session timer hits zero.
  • Spectator – Made the steering animations smooth while looking at cockpit onboard cameras
  • Rolling Starts – Fixed an issue with H-shifting where the car would make unnecessary gearshifts while under AI control if shifter was not in 1st or Neutral.
  • Rolling Starts – Fixed the last reported issues with regards to players disconnecting from the starting grid, causing some traffic jams.
  • Dedicated Server – Fixed an issue with results from race 1 being duplicated.
  • Dedicated Server – Fixed pitstops not always registering in results files
  • Pitlane speed limiter – Helped with some players still getting caught going above 60kph limits after accelerating a lot and overshooting the limit by making throttle fade out when approaching the speed limit.
  • Single Player Championships – Fixed an issue where an “Invalid lap” would be presented at the start of a race.
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