King of the Mountain: the ultimate way to drive the Isle of Man TT course in sim racing

Ross McGregor
Find out the definitive way to sample the Isle of Man TT Course outside of TT Isle of Man: Ride on the Edge 3.
Isle of Man Mountain Course, rFactor 2, IndyCar IR-18 Dallara

It’s race week on the Isle of Man, and thousands of motorcycle fans have gathered from all corners of the globe to watch their two-wheeled heroes battle against 37.73 miles of unforgiving Manx asphalt.

History has already been made at this year’s Isle of Man TT Races, with Northern Irishman Michael Dunlop eclipsing his Uncle Joey’s record of 26 victories, and new hope Davey Todd (and ambassador of the TT Isle of Man: Ride on the Edge 3 game) finally broke his duck in the first Superstock race, averaging over 132 mph in the process – an unthinkable speed given the tight and twisty Manx roads.

rFactor 2, Isle of Man Mountain Course, Dallara IR-18 IndyCar
Putting the ‘laugh’ in ‘Ballaugh Bridge’

The Isle of Man is synonymous with motorcycles and sidecars, but it also has a strong car history too, with the Manx Rally providing perennial thrills through the decades. Who can forget the epic, five-way fight for the British Rally Championship in 1997? Or Ari Vatanen’s high-speed ‘Dear God’ moment? Or Mark Higgins blasting a Subaru Impreza Time Attack car to an average speed of 128 mph around the Snaefell Mountain Course in 2016?

The Isle of Man elicits so many vivid memories for two and four-wheel followers, but bike fans can jump onto their consoles or PC for a quick blast on the aforementioned Ride on the Edge 3 and sample what it’s like to blast through Bray Hill or master the Mountain Mile.

Mark Higgins doing Mark Higgins things

It’s less easy to find a quality four-wheel equivalent in sim racing, however, with a poor Assetto Corsa mod ruining much of the mystique surrounding the island and its unique character.

There is a better solution, though, and it’s available for free on rFactor 2’s Steam Workshop.

Jim Pearson: a legend of sim racing

Jim Pearson took it upon himself to scratch-build the TT course in Grand Prix Legends, the classic historic racing title masterminded by inspirational developer Dave Kaemmer (of iRacing and Indianapolis 500: The Simulation fame).

The whole endeavour took 15 years to complete, but in 2019 he’d finally done it, and such was the interest surrounding the release he allowed S.Victor (Xiang) and Corti (Andres) to convert it to rFactor 2, in part to help service the sim’s burgeoning historic racing community.

A modern-day IndyCar versus the Isle of Man TT Course. A match made in heaven?

The conversion truly brings the Isle of Man experience to life, with all the bells and whistles expected from a modern simulator, including dynamic weather, a day/night cycle and realistic rubbering-in. There’s also an alternate version of the circuit with Snaefell Mountain’s notoriously misty peaks baked in. It’s atmospheric, to say the least.

Exiting the pitlane to head out onto the start/finish straight (or Glencrutchery Road as it’s usually known), you immediately get a sense of what this track’s all about:

It’s bumpy.

It’s fast.

It’s narrow.

rFactor 2, Isle of Man Mountain Course, Dallara IR-18 IndyCar
Parliament Square, one of the slowest points on the course


Heading down Bray Hill at flat-chat, the car bottoms out and gets loose: the TT course has you firmly in its grasp and you just have to hang on. Oh, and I’ve decided to do my first laps in a 700bhp current-spec IndyCar. Probably should’ve mentioned that.


Despite not being laser-scanned, Pearson’s TT course closely matches the version found in Ride on the Edge 3 and employs rF 2’s latest physically based rendering (PBR) system. Impressively, S.Victor updates the circuit regularly too, with its last tweak coming just two months ago (April 2024).

Having learned the whole track back in 2005’s TT Superbikes: Real Road Racing on the PlayStation 2, I know the layout reasonably well, and Pearson’s done a tremendous job of placing the most recognisable Manx places of interest, including the Creg-Ny-Baa restaurant, Handley’s infamous wall and the challenging Ballaugh Bridge.

TT Mountain Course, rFactor 2, Lotus Cortina, wet weather
Wet weather adds more challenge to proceedings


Compromise

There have been compromises, however. If you look either side of the circuit you’ll see that the trackside environment disappears past the first row of buildings – forgivable when you consider the length of the track. Some of the textures are also a little dated, but again acceptable given how quickly you’ll be flying past them.


The layout is also pre-2006 before the reprofiling of Brandish and Windy corners, making the track length slightly longer at 37.75 miles. The rest is largely unchanged even today, however.

TT Mountain Course, rFactor 2, Lotus Cortina, wet weather
Needless to say this poor old Cortina ended up upside down in a hedge soon after

Elevation changes feel spot on, with the bumpiest section between Sulby and Ramsey particularly brutal to drive with 8 Nm of direct drive torque and a 200 mph IndyCar to contend with. The car follows the road camber and scrapes its floor along the biggest bumps and compressions – it’s a handful, even in a low-powered ’60s Lotus Cortina.

Some of the highest-speed sections of the track blur into each other in a fine, green haze, but once you begin to understand their nuances there’s an exhilarating flow to be found, with the blast through Kirk Michael emphasising how ridiculously beautiful the whole TT event is.

rFactor 2, Isle of Man Mountain Course, Dallara IR-18 IndyCar
Looking up the hill towards Kate’s Cottage

Where to download the Isle of Man TT track for rFactor 2

Jim Pearson’s converted Isle of Man Mountain Course for rFactor 2 can be downloaded from the game’s Steam Workshop page. Once logged in just click the ‘Subscribe’ button and the game will download it for you.

Do you also want to attempt the TT course using the IR-18 IndyCar in rFactor 2? Download my set-up here.

Are you an Isle of Man TT fan? Join the discussion over on our Discord server

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