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Hands-on with iRacing: New and updated 2021 Season 4 content

Hands on with iRacing: New and updated 2021 Season 4 content

A new iRacing build means a ton of changes service-wide in one fell swoop. From the new content like the Ferrari 488 GT3 EVO or Hickory Motor Speedway to updated content such as the Street Stock or AI (but in hosted sessions), now is the perfect time to get a feel for everything new.

With the update taking the service down for multiple hours on Wednesday (8th September) and a subsequent server seizure shortly afterward, it was pretty tough to get a handle on most of the new content. I’m a NASCAR guy but there wasn’t much to do with NASCAR updates this go around. Regardless, I’ve touched on a few things and written my thoughts below.

NOTE: While the Ferrari 488 GT3 EVO and Hickory Motor Speedway are both new content in this build, this is not a combination that I recommend for any sort of racing. It makes a cool header image though.

NASCAR Updates – New B & C shock settings

Yeah, the left front tire should never be off of the ground.

Honestly, my mind melted when I looked at that Shock Tuning User Guide that iRacing provided members last week. The guide was provided conjunction with the new shock updates for the NASCAR Class B Xfinity Series and NASCAR Class C Camping World Truck Series vehicles.

Setup building has never been a strength of mine. I’ve worked with people who do know setups and have gotten vehicles to feel good for my driving style. I’ve also fiddled for league racing purposes, but it usually requires a healthy amount of time staring. Looking at these new settings, it’s great to have more adjustability to get more precise feeling.

Actually, I’m pretty sure all the tires should stay on the ground.

I messed around with the default truck setup at Darlington. There are some significant handling differences when randomly changing those values. I noticed at one point where the truck felt more planted but suffered from understeer. Meanwhile in another attempt, I had tons of oversteer and it felt like I could take off at any moment.

Learning those new values and what they do will be critical, especially for those aiming at making the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series through the eNASCAR Road to Pro Qualifying and Contender Series. Old setups will work, but those new values will need to be adjusted.

NASCAR Updates – New road tires

These tires stayed on the ground and actually felt connected to the track. Wow!

Another update for all NASCAR vehicles came in the form of new road tires. Now, I did just compete in a six-week roval series at eRacr.gg. I was stuck in the Xfinity car, and I know I speak for many when I say the road tires used to suck the fun out of those cars in particular. The old feeling was never any sense of security, always having to baby the throttle, always worried about overheating tires. It felt like ice no matter the track.

I am happy to report that these tires do not drive like glass slippers anymore. There is some traction now, where the car will grip through a corner and not slide. Tire conservation and heat management will still be important, however. Hopefully, it’s not as dumb as it used to be with half throttle on the straights being the meta.

I haven’t yet tried the Truck or the Cup cars, but I can only expect more of the same. The other cars seemed to have more grip before the new build, in my opinion. Hopefully that stays the same in that respect with better fall off and heating properties.

HOSTED AI and OTHER AI UPDATES

Hands on with iRacing: New and updated 2021 Season 4 content
SuperCars AI is on another level. Even the computers don’t care about personal space!

Full disclosure, I wasn’t able to get a Hosted AI session up before getting this Hands On written, but I did go through the steps to get a session set up. AI racing by yourself is at no extra cost besides having a subscription and owning the content, but when it’s Hosted AI, it will cost you similarly to how a server without AI would be.

Overall, it’s not too difficult to get going. There are some tips and tricks, as well as a weird issue for members if they are not careful, but overall, it should evoke those days on NR2003 where you’d get some friends together to mess around against the computers. It did for me, at least.

There were a ton of added AI updates as the computerized drivers took a slew of online classes for the new build. Five vehicles and 11 track configurations were added to the AI side of the service. Some of the improvements made things better and more enjoyable, but there were some glaring issues that are hopefully addressed sooner than later.

Whoops.

Before the update, I started getting into AI racing with the USF2000 at Iowa Raceway. Last night, it seems the AI are not as keen to race five wide down the straightaway, which has somewhat ruined that experience for me. It’s good that more of the content is moving to AI. Hopefully I can find a new OP combination for offline or Hosted AI sessions.

Also, apologies to Garrett Smithley who raided my Twitch stream last night thinking I was actually racing with Nim Cross and Christopher Bell. Blame the UI-generated AI rosters for giving me a whole list of celebrities to face off against.

OPEN WHEEL CARS

My best attempt at trying to save the back end from going around. I wound up in the tires.

One of my favorite cars in this sim is the Dallara IR18, the NTT IndyCar Series machine. I’ve enjoyed the vehicle on ovals tremendously, especially at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval. On road courses, though, I never felt in the track, always uneasy to pick up the throttle. The build update states that this car, along with the Lotus 49 and 79, have got more drive off of the rear tires now. With the right setup, this might be the case.

I tried all three cars at some familiar courses. Belle Isle is one of my favorites that I’ve noticed the inability to grip on corner exit. Unfortunately, I’m still getting that same sensation in the IR18. I tried a few other options in the setup and I honestly don’t feel like I’m able to drive it any differently than I had to in previous builds. It could be that I’m just bad, but I was pretty optimistic when I saw that video last week.

I took the Lotus 49 to Monza and had a blast. That car isn’t a normal one for me, but that is a real challenge to keep the car underneath you and I love it. I also took the Lotus 79 to Imola and had another pleasurable experience. This car is more rigid than the 49, so it didn’t appreciate the rumble strips or curbs as much as I hoped it would.

GT3 car updates

Beginner's Guide to iRacing: Where to even start?
I’ve used this photo before but that car shines like no other.

I watch the Dave Cam videos every week. The GT3 Challenge looks like a very enticing series to partake in. I’ve driven a couple of GT3 cars in the Monday Night Racing series, but these cars are not something I actively do. When the 24 Hours of Daytona took place earlier this year, I was admittedly more comfortable racing the faster prototype Dallara P217.

While I have all of the cars and have been able to enjoy them on occasion, I don’t really know what to look for in these. Thankfully, Dave got his hands on the new Ferrari 488 GT3 EVO as well, and he’ll have a video out this weekend with his thoughts. We also have a Dave Cam new Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (992) video on the site now, go check that out!

NEW CONTENT

New content, meet new content.

I tried the new Ferrari and the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (992) right away, and while the Porsche feels like rewarding challenge, I very much prefer the feel of the Ferrari. I took them both to the new Hungaroring circuit and was definitely able to learn the course better in the Ferrari. Again, Dave’s videos will be able to speak more on both the car and the track, but I enjoyed myself.

As for Hickory Motor Speedway, not a short track guy honestly. The first thing I did on Wednesday after the update was I hopped in Antony Alfredo’s hosted session at Hickory with the Super Late Models. The Supers did get an update in the new build, so they seemed a bit less tricky than I had previously remembered. Hickory itself is a small little thing that drives like a bigger track.

Super Late Models are still tough.

In that Alfredo hosted race, I felt pretty ok, holding my own around 10th place. Off of the corner, I was squeezed into the wall and we both met the tire bundles placed in the first corner. That driver felt I came down, but I was already up against the wall, so take it as you will.

Overall, Hickory is a great addition for short trackers on the sim. The Hungaroring and the two GT3 cars are sure to get a work out in the upcoming season as well.

OVERALL THOUGHTS

Good news! The low line is back at Bristol! Bad news! The Cup car goes too fast at Bristol!

While there was a lot of buzz around the build, there are some things that turned out better off while other projects may need some further testing. I don’t get on iRacing to win every race I’m in, I log on to have fun. The new content is fun. The updates are fun. Overall, this build moves the simulator further along.

I’ll likely continue to play around with the different features in the new build before the fourth and final season in 2021 officially begins. Also, iRacing often sends out patches and fixes when content isn’t received well or contains issues. I’d expect as more people continue to dive in that some things might get rolled back or changed through the season.

Huge props to both Traxion’s own Davin Cornelius (DriveThrough Designs) and my buddy Cosmin Ioanesiu (Splash N’ Go Graphics) for always having absolute fire Traxion paint schemes to drive at all times.

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