Free-to-enter sim racing platform RaceRoom Racing Experience has been a little quiet so far in 2023.
But, that’s game development sometimes – it takes time to create new content, and now developer KW Studios is about to awake from its winter hibernation.
The fightback starts with this, the On The Edge downloadable content pack, which includes three (or four) race-bred machines.
While each is a worthy addition to the title, for us, one stands out – the Mazda RT-24P DPi.
Used in American endurance racing between 2017 and 2021, initially built in partnership between Mazda Motorsport and Multimatic Motorsports, before being run by Joest, it managed to claim several podiums and seven race victories.
No mean feat, and while it seems a little add to launch a DPi car in the age of GTP, its retirement doesn’t matter once you hit the track.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that for quick prototype vehicles, RaceRoom has been sadly lacking, with the now ageing Audi R18, some older Daytona prototypes and a smattering of fictional creations the only models of note. So this is a step in the right direction.
The sound of thunder
As soon as you exit a pitlane, this Mazda imbues you with a sense of confidence. Admittedly, the cockpit view can be claustrophobic, but as soon as you notice that the functional rear-view camera and display system is on your side, you’ll be at ease.
Then there’s the downforce, running through the flat-out Dogleg at Daytona, for example, is so easy it barely tickles your amygdala. Steering is direct, with a benign balance and a heap of corner-exit traction.
In fact, building up speed and hitting the throttle early enough is the main challenge – the large swathes of grip combined with the real-world aping traction control system mean it’s impossible to spin on power.
The Mazda isn’t completely pliable, however. Overshoot braking markers just a little and it will rotate, with a tendency to catch out the unwary pre-apex.
Approachable driving characteristics belie just how aggressive the RT-24P can be. On paper, a four-cylinder turbocharged 2.0-litre engine is hardly befitting of a top-class prototype, but goodness, is it harsh.
It sounds rougher than Arthur from Peaky Blinders looking for vengeance. It’s angry and highlights one of RaceRoom’s leading abilities – sound.
The resonance portrayed heightens your experience, mixed with the wind noise as you ramp up to 300 km/h around the banking of Florida’s premium ‘roval’, delivering an almost unparalleled sense of speed.
Each gear clicks into place with a satisfying metallic slap, each rpm finely attuned and you learn of impending understeer through the sound of tyre scrub.
A shame then that this new addition sits within its own class, making for AI or online races against itself in one of 27 liveries. However, this DPi is at least set for ranked online racing appearances in the coming months, and for multi-class events such as the Daytona 2.4H, this should lead the way.
One car that certainly isn’t in a class one is the McLaren 570S GT4. This category is filled with rivals, from the Lotus Evora to the Porsche Cayman, and marks the eighth GTR 4 roster member.
At the same time as this model’s introduction, the development team has taken it upon itself to balance the category further, with uprated suspension kinematics and new base set-ups.
Like the Mazda, its time has come in the real-world, although in this case not through a change of rules – the UK-based supercar purveyor has a new Artura GT4 on the way soon.
Although, for now, that’s not quite finished, so the 570S will still be used in many race series around the globe in 2023.
Behind the driver sits McLaren’s ever-present M838T V8, used in various states of tune and development in every one of its cars produced since the 12C.
Putting that power to the road is an open differntial controlled by electronics, another papaya speciality.
In action, this is an easy car to handle. There’s no snap-oversteer which can sometimes afflict a mid-engine layout, with understeer being the order of the day should you approach its limits.
Running around in a pack of like-for-like rivals, you notice its diminutive size. A BMW M4 GT4 dwarfs it like a heavyweight vs lightweight boxer. Yet, despite the compact dimensions, a low scuttle allows for superlative visibility.
The eight-cylinder engine is fairly muted, in typical McLaren fashion, but there’s a deep, throaty, rumble in there somewhere. Power delivery is anything but harsh.
In combination, this is an ideal entry point into rear-wheel drive racing cars, and if you’re new to RaceRoom, this should be one of your first purchases.
Rounding out this pack is the KTM X-Bow, in both GT2 and GTX forms – from the sublime to the ridiculous.
This low-slung, canopy-equipped, dedicated racing car is aimed primarily at the amateur driver and is entered into the SRO-ran GT2 European Series.
Holy moly, is it quick compared to a GT4 car, and the view of exposed scaffolding inside (read: roll cage) is unnerving. You’re going straight on at the next hairpin, we guarantee it.
Mid-corner though, and this Austrian supercar is a honey, never misbehaving. Once acclimatisation to the straight-line performance is complete, the X-Bow is rarely unplanted.
KW Studios has worked directly with Laura Kraihamer, head of marketing and motorsport at KTM, but also a real-world competitor with the GT2 variant.
Having tested this version, there’s no wonder that it took a starring role in 2022’s ADAC 24h Nürburgring event.
Its brakes squeal, wastegates flutter, but the way it drives is surprisingly approachable, plus there’s the ‘bonus’ GTX version with less power for one-make racing.
The On the Edge DLC pack includes the three aforementioned cars for €7.50 and is set for release this week.
Alongside the new cars, re-balanced GT4 and GT2 classes, there’s been work to accurately model real-world braking systems. In the slower of those two categories, items such as disk diameter, weight, cooling, pad weight and length of brake pedal travel have been factored in.
There’s little doubt that these new models will also be part of upcoming online playlists. For now, the rest of the RaceRoom experiences remains as is, including its genre-leading sounds – but these new vehicles are said to “lay foundations for more cars to [be added] to under-represented classes” and the platform is mixing up its future content release strategy.
This new set is an essential purchase for any RaceRoom user, let’s hope it’s a sign of things to come throughout 2023.