We love iracing but lets be honest, it is a complicated package on first look. So I am writing a wide series of articles built out of mine and my iRacing friends experience that I hope will help you get more out of this now brilliant platform.
Article 1: Safety Rating (SR)
We begin with Safety Rating or as it is commonly referred, our SR. Combined with iRating (which does a totally different job) SR and iRating are the heart of the iRacing structure making it the go to platform for easy access eSports competition!
I will cover SR in this first article and iRating in the second.
In the first months of iRacing I advise anyone who has good experience in real world racing to focus on SR and not IR. Anyone with a comptitive nature will naturally want to focus on IR although it really can be a mugs game in the first few months and will take away some of the fun of iRacing for reasons that will become apparent later.
The practical facts:
Your SR effects the license grade you can obtain. The license grade decides what series/cars you can race in and ultimately the experience of drivers you race against. Everyone without exception starts as a Rookie, even Fernando Alonso had to begin as a Rookie in iRacing in 2020, I kid you not!
The higher the license grade required to enter a category, the more experience you race against, not the faster… that’s where the iRating comes in. Think of Safety Rating being like survival of the smartest… not the fastest and that is crucial when you understand the competition.
When you race on a grid where everyone has an B or A grade license you will notice straight away the difference. Mistakes get made but much less frequently and proper door to door racing without disaster becomes much more common.
The war zone:
Once you make it out of Rookie and gain a D Grade license you are now in the war zone where all eSports, not just iRacing can be chaotic and why you need to get where the experience is more abundant, this is when iRacing really takes over!
The fact is eSports, on any software platform has a broader range of entrants than anyone reading this could ever imagine. I’m not just talking about attitude, mental ability or understanding of motorsport, the guy next to you on the grid may be driving with a single 24” 60hz monitor, a 10 year old Thrustmaster wheel clamped to a tressle table in an appartment with a family of 5 kids in the background. He's giving it his best shot but no way is he able to think or plan in the same way as you despite his pace over a single lap. The point is by its very nature at the lower license levels the competition is widely unpredictable for so many reasons and most of them cannot be seen to give us a warning. It can be as much about survival as it is about racing at this level.
Regardless of the above 98% of entrants in D and C Grade race series are people who are developing their experience, many are actually very fast but so much effort goes into being fast WE all struggle to think beyond our current moment, thereby becoming another casual/random liability, potentially 30 casual/random liabilities of varying degrees of risk all on track together. So what could possibley go wrong?
Regardless of pace or ambition, D and C grade are without question junior/learning categories despite the car type or our sometimes-mature ages and real world experience would have us think! The license grade still means very little at this level.
It is only when we reach B grade and above races series that the average racer is consistently more “aware” and therefore clean but hard, just as in the real world.
Naturaly many races at this level will be everything you want them to be so its by no means all gloom, after all there are a huge number of people in iRacing, but it is essential to understand what is happenig so you get the best from iRacing and have your eyes on the prize.
Raising your SR:
SR is won and lost by staying in the rules of motorsport i.e. track limits, no contact and so on. Your SR is ONLY affected when you enter an official iRacing race. The rule boundaries are the same from practice to race giving us a consistent limit to work with.
In Practice sessions spend your time learning track limits, learn how and when the tyres come up to temperature. Learn these BEFORE you race or you throw away SR.
Don’t worry if you get a few track limits in a race, this is racing after all and won’t hurt the SR that much unless you have many, so try to keep them to a minimum. You are allowed X16 in an average race before you get disqualified and lose a load of SR and iRating in one big go.
It is a great feeling to have good result in a race and no SR penalties but that takes time to achieve. What you particularly want to avoid is full contact with other cars known as a “X4”. Sadly if someone hits you, even square on in the rear, there will be a X2 or a X4 hit to your SR as the software cannot decide who was to blame so keep this in mind when defending. This one of the main reasons to get into B grade races in my experience!
Always get the car to the finish if you can, part of the SR scoring comes from the number of corners you drove around safely, even after the chequered flag. If you are on an SR gaining mission it is worth doing a full safe lap back to the pits, it’s a small gain but it is there.
An easy jump in SR comes from racing in Endurance races because you will cover so many more laps with typically lower risk.
Top tips to gain SR:
Never race without hours of practice in that car on that track in official sessions.
Always spend at least 15 minutes warming up before doing a race. Never just drop in because you have a spare 30 minutes... at least not till you've been at it a few years.
You are advised to start all races in D to C categories either at the front or the back apart from, endurance races. This is to minimse your part in the chaos. More information on predicting your pace and choice to qualify or noit will be in a future article.
Last and most important, be patient and treat the simulation like a real car not a game.
Next article will be on the iRating.