PC driving simulator RaceRoom Racing Experience is technically free-to-play all year round, but unless you splash the cash on additional cars and tracks you are left with five venues and a smattering of vehicles – all mostly fictional.
With cars and tracks costing as much as £4.22/$5.22 apiece, it can soon add up.
However, from the 19th to 30th May 2022, you can drive and race everything for no additional cost.
There’s arguably never been a better time to get into RaceRoom and explore its varied content and ranked online racing. With the shackles released, here are six great car and track combinations in what is the cognoscenti’s sim racing platform of choice.
Gelleråsen Arena and the WTCR
The Gelleråsen Arena venue, sometimes known as Karlskoga Motorstadion, is located in the middle of the Scandinavian region and has been home to many classic Swedish Touring Car Championship battles over the years.
None more so than a clash between Jan “Flash” Nilsson, then driving for Volvo, and fiery Italian Roberto Colciago at the helm of a Kristoffersson Motorsport Audi in 2001. Colciago’s A4 made contact with both Volvo entries during the race, to the point where ‘Flash’ was seen walking onto the track to remonstrate during a safety car period, before a heated post-race exchange.
That’s why this venue has gone down in touring car folklore. While the modern-day STCC does visit Karlskoga and uses TCR-specification cars, the official liveries are not present in RaceRoom – a shame, as in over a decade ago the same development team made two official STCC expansions for the Race 07 platform.
So, the nearest you can get is to load up the track with contemporary WTCR content and pick the Lynk & Co 03. Yes, it may not be a Swedish brand, but the team – Cyan Racing – is based in Sweden and spawned from the remnants of Flash’s old Volvo squad.
Push up the AI difficulty over 100, start last and try to progress to the podium over a two-race structure. It’s a stern test around a venue you may otherwise have overlooked. It also typifies the obscure real-world venues within this sim.
Bilster Berg and KTM X-BOW RR
The German venue, Bilster Berg, is a curiosity because it’s not steeped in motor racing history. It’s primarily used as a track day and car launch venue. Own a Porsche, get invited to a Porsche driving day, for example.
Its Google Maps description highlights its viewing restaurant and terrace, not its place in motorsport history.
Which is why the undulating venue has perhaps past many motorsport fans by. But avoid it at your peril, as this is one of the most enjoyable driving experiences in gaming.
Simply open a practice session with the KTM X-BOW RR. No racing – the track perhaps doesn’t lend itself to competitive sessions both in the real world or the virtual one – just learn the track.
There are more blind apices than a Scottish B-road. Learning the right line is tricky, which is why it’s so rewarding.
The KTM, on the other hand, is the track-focused variant. That means a carbon fibre monocoque, limited-slip differential and the Volkswagen Group’s venerable 2.0 Turbo EA888 engine that’s in everything from a Golf GTI to a Škoda Octavia.
Except here, it’s been tuned, and the air intake is savage – snarling at you like a dog with rabies as your approach the redline. The wastegate flutters more than a 1980s rally car, too. The ideal machine to learn which crest is flat, and which isn’t…
Volkswagen ID.R and the Nürburgring Nordschleife
6:05.33. That’s the time Romain Dumas managed in 2019 to set a new electric vehicle record for the Nürburgring Nordschleife.
Now it’s your turn to try and beat that record.
Everything is present within RaceRoom. The car, the track and even the functional drag reduction system. Make sure you have a button mapped and are brave enough to use it at every available opportunity.
Then there are the brakes which provide monumental stopping power. With only the electronic whine to keep you company, acclimatisation to just how late you can brake make take a few laps. Similarly, learning how to lean on this epic machine’s downforce levels takes time.
Our first flying lap was a tardy 6:20, but with a few more attempts and a spot of set-up tweaking, that record is in our sights.
The plucky Lada Granta and Macau
Macau is a strange place. With gambling banned in the majority of China, this a Special Administrative Region on its south-east coast that people can visit to bet on cards and roulettes.
Consequently, every third building – probably – is a casino, and if 007 is anything to go by, is filled with prying komodo dragons…
Even stranger, however, is the yearly Guia races which are held on the most unsuitable roads in the world for a motor race. Yet, every 12 months, touring car stars and upcoming Formula 3 drivers from the world ever descend to try and win the Macau Grand Prix.
In the land of tin tops, Rob Huff is the maestro around here, winning no less than 10 races. His best, in our opinion, was in 2014 when he won in the ungainly Lada Granta.
If a racing Lada wasn’t incongruous enough, the FIA decided to dramatically increase the reliance on aerodynamics for this season. The Russian team was already using the boxy saloon in 2013, but faced with a wait for the shapelier Vesta in 2015, adapted its existing model to meet the new rules.
As a result, the Granta’s massive wheel arches made it look like a teenager wearing an oversized prom suit. It was about as quick as a teenager waking up too, that is to say, really rather very slow.
Yet somehow, come Macau, Huff managed to stave off the might of the Citroën and Honda teams to take a surprising victory around the narrow streets. So, we challenge you to do the same.
Simply select the 3.8-mile circuit and enter the 2014 WTCC car pack, where the requisite Lada sits. Ramp up the difficulty level and see if you can snatch an unlikely victory.
Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course and the Formula RaceRoom US
A relatively new addition to RaceRoom, Indianapolis Motor Speedway has previously been available for the platform but the latest iteration was added in January of this year.
That means the contemporary Road Course layout, removing the slow right and left hairpins midway around the lap but adding in a chicane before the banking.
Sadly, there is a lack of officially licenced IndyCar content in RaceRoom, but the fictional – if now long in the tooth – Formula RaceRoom US more than does the trick.
The open-wheeler features a realistic push-to-pass system and Firestone tyres, even if it lacks the current design and aeroscreen.
The car is a hoot. There’s enough downforce to take the fifth and sixth corner kinks without a lift, but at the slow speed final corners, there’s wheelspin and consequently oversteer that you will need to tame.
With no rain on the platform, recreating Colton Herta’s recent real-world IndyCar heroics aren’t possible, but this fictional car and real-world track combination deliver some of the biggest smiles per mile.
Ningbo and the Cupra Leon E-Racer
A contentious one to end. So far, all of our recommendations have been authentic. But the eclectic track and cars available within RaceRoom also cry out for you to try a decidedly random concoction.
So, our sim racing equivalent of a bag on Revels is the electric Cupra touring car at the Chinese Ningbo International Speedway.
The car is interesting as this went on to form the basis of the current FIA ETCR – eTouring Car World Cup. At first, you may think it would drive like a TCR Leon, but the reality is very different. This is rear-wheel-drive for a start, is rather pacier in a straight-line but then requires braking distances that are almost twice as long.
The venue, on the other hand, has held WTCC and WTCR races – before COVID-19 affected travel to the region – was built by Geely, the car company that also owns Volvo, the aforementioned Lynk & Co, Lotus and even the company that makes London’s black cabs.
A modern facility with asphalt runoff areas and sausage kerbs, sigh, there are some surprisingly fun elements. Using the full layout ‘with chicane’, Turns 18 and 19 plunge downhill, with your car bouncing over the kerbs, before trying to slow down for the tight Turn 20.
Turns 7 to 9 remind me of Istanbul Park’s Turn 8 in reverse but the final three corners left-to-right-to-left nature did leave me feeling a little seasick. Still, if variety is the spice of life, this combination delivers that in spades.
So, there we go. Six car and track combinations to try out in RaceRoom Racing Experience while it is all free before 30th May 2022. Even when the pricing is switched back on again, they are all worthy of a purchase. Let us know in the comments below which content you’ve been enjoying.