What is that about?

For those new to iRacing week 13 is in effect “reset” week, where racing becomes less about winning and more about having fun on the sim. iRacing and Safety Rating for the most part, no longer matter. The usual championships cease apart from a couple of major ones like MX5’s and Porsche Cup and a series of “crazy grids” gets formed.

Why does this happen?:

Week 13 gives the iRacing business a chance to add new content and make significant updates to crash and tyre models amongst other things like sound and graphics, in a week where championships don’t mater.

With so much variety in the real world of iRacing user hardware, no amount in house R&D can cover every base so week 13 allows the deployment of updates in an environment where glitches and loopholes do not mater as much and therefore can be resolved fairly and quickly.

Significant disruption is very rare.

What does week 13 mean?

You can race cars that you are not normally licensed to race. This is both good and bad so always check the MPR. If the race is MPR eligible then your ratings are counted as normal.

Typically Mazda MX5 and Porsche Cup remain MPR with most other random races going freestyle so your iRating and SR are safe but of course that does promote a certain idiocy in many drivers!

Never take week 13 seriously. It is all about the chance to test new content.

New content this coming season includes a free Formula Vee race car, which should become very popular. You will see it racing on the same grids as Formula 1 cars in week 13, then moving to pure Formula Vee grids in Season 3 onwards.

When does it stop?

Week 13 is typically just one iRacing week so Tuesday to Monday. The following Tuesday see’s the start of the new Championship season. In this case Season 3.

Take Week 13 as the chance to plan which car and Championship you will focus on in Season 3

Written by Simon Mason of Sim Dynamics

Updated: May 4, 2021

Article 2: iRating (IR)

I hope Article 1 gave an idea how the Safety Rating works in practical terms. The second essential feature to understand iRacing... is the iRating or IR as its often referred.

Where SR dictates what you can race by how safe you have been, IR decides how fast your competition is on average. Every time a driver enters a race, the iRacing server will assign them to a grid, known as a “split” based on their iRating, moving other drivers up or down accordingly until race start time.

This way 5000+ drivers from all over the world can sign up for a 12PM GMT race start and yet all the splits have comparable driver standards based on performance (their IR). Still with me…. Ok lets look at how we work with it in real terms…

What IR does:

Let us imagine 100 drivers sign up for a race at 7pm on a track that holds 25 cars.

The iRacing server will place the 25 highest iRated drivers that signed in to “Split 1”, the second highest to “Split 2” and so on.

Everyone races at the same time, same track etc but the splits are formed entirely around each drivers IR.

The result is you race people of comparable pace, but not attitude or experience which takes us back to why SR is so important in the early license levels.

How does IR work:

In essence you have a score, the iRating. Every time you enter a race and reach the qualifying start time you will either win or lose IR taking or giving a percentage of IR directly from the competitors in your race. This is calculated around an algorithm that iRacing employs and it seems to work well.

Naturally the higher up you finish a race, the higher your IR reward and visa versa. If you do not finish a race at all for any reason, your IR will take what can only be described as a kicking!

In my experience if you finish inside the top 10 on a full grid you will typically gain IR. Gaining IR outside the top 10 is less consistent because it is affected by many factors, after all there must be a point where sizeable percentage of the split starts to lose their IR or it would not account for performance!

How much you win or lose depends entirely on numbers… the number of competitors entered, finishing position of you and the people around you and their IR.

It follows therefore that the higher the IR each driver has, the more competitive they must be.

After each race you will see your new IR and SR score in your Profile. If you look at the race results you will see who won or lost what for both.

IR Observations:

Now with these I welcome your input but for me I believe there is a pattern that I think is useful to reference when judging our own expectations in iRacing.

1. We all find our natural IR position and it will go up and down, FACT. It’s easy to think we should be higher but having been on the IR wave for while I think it is actually relevant and fits performance at relevant times.

2. IR seem to have an genuine associated pace, as above. Drivers with circa 1800 to 2500 IR are typically faster than drivers with lower scores, HOWEVER the drivers with 3k plus IR always seem to have a bit of extra pace over everyone but similar high IR drivers.

My top tips for gaining IR:

1. NEVER race without practicing first. You need to know the circuit, with braking points and with a good idea of how the car behaves on cold tyres on that track.

2. ALWAYS give yourself at least 15 minutes prep before a race to get your eye in.

3. If you cannot see the race through FOR ANY reason you will lose a lot of IR so only commit when you know you can see it through with no hardware issues.

4. START TIME & GRID have a huge effect on your potential IR, in the UK evening and weekend races are best for IR gains. If lots of people enter a race, naturally IR splits will be tighter. If its quiet, let’s say 2 or 3 splits you may get lucky and have a chance to disappear into the distance OR you may get battered because the mix of driver levels is wide.

5. START POSITION. Start at the front or start at the back. Some tracks are worse than others, so a bit of experience comes in and after a while you know when to go and when to wait.

6. WHAT IS IMPORANT! Before you race be clear what you are racing for, it is always great to win but you won’t get anything for it beyond slightly more IR than second place earned. So pick your moments and think... “what matters most to me right now, the win so I feel good for an hour or the IR so I get better quality races in future”.

I hope this makes some sense to you budding iRacers.

Updated: May 4, 2021

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.