Datapacks are coming out of BETA!

Untitled-1In early 2016 we opened our BETA program, and in the past year we’ve made significant progress with the VRS platform. Here are some of the highlights:

  • The ranks of our coaches include three 2016 iRacing World Champions from each of the categories (road, oval and endurance), along with other top WCS drivers. Whether you use datapacks or take 1:1 coaching, you can literally learn from the best iRacers on VRS.
  • We vastly expanded the selection of datapacks and we now cover the most popular road and oval series.
  • The datapacks page was completely revamped, making it very easy to browse to and download datapack files (.sto, .rpy, .blap, .olap), as well as to quickly compare driving against the datapack.
  • We’ve built a new video driving analyzer. From the cockpit and chase views, you can study the positioning and orientation of the car at each of the important points around the corner (e.g brake point, turn-in point, throttle point) as you compare your laps against datapack laps or teammates’ laps.
  • We redesigned our navigation to make it quick and easy to compare yourself against one or multiple targets (e.g. datapack or a teammate) session after session.
  • We also made it easy to track setup changes stint to stint and to collaborate with teammates on setup building.
  • We started a series of detailed driving tutorials that not only explain how to get around the track but also explain why the car is driven in this way. Watching these tutorials over several weeks will give you a better understanding of topics like car balance, handling, grip changes, etc.
  • We started and have been expanding our Academy knowledge bank with articles and videos on a wide variety of topics, ranging from driving technique, through ergonomics to car setups.

There is a ton more we want to do in terms of both content and software features and we want to be able to continue this work for years to come. In order to be able to do that, we need to build a sustainable business around VRS. Hence, effective March 21st 2017, we’ll be introducing several subscription tiers to VRS:

  • Casual (FREE) is our free subscription tier, which is ideal for the casual iRacers, who only get to practice about once per week. Access to datapacks and teams data is time-limited (to e.g. one evening per week) and advanced features such as side-by-side video comparison and advanced telemetry are not available.
  • Dedicated (4.99/mo, 49.99/y) is our low-usage (or low-budget) tier. It is nearly identical to the Casual plan. The difference is that you can unlock full access to a single datapack or team and still causally compare against other datapacks. Side-by-side video comparison and advanced telemetry aren’t available.
  • Competitive (9.99/mo, 99.99y) is ideal for active iRacers who are serious about improving their lap times. You get full and unlimited access to all current and past datapacks, as well as to teammates data, and advanced features. This plan also allows you to request 1:1 coaching.
  • Pro (128.99/mo, 386.97/q) is ideal for the highly-motivated simracer who aims to develop their skills rapidly and who wants to be competitive at the highest levels on iRacing. This plan includes weekly 1:1 coaching and offers a 15% discount on all 1:1 coaching.

For a full comparison of available plans and features, take a look here.

The real & virtual Formula Renault 2.0 and Brad Dias’ racing life

Untitled-1Having recently signed with reigning Asian Formula Renault champions BlackArts Racing for the 2017 season, the twenty year old Brad Dias from India is making progress on the motorsport ladder. He’s also an avid simracer, being coached through VRS by Martti Pietilä.

Brad, you’re from Goa, India. From a European perspective, motorsport culture doesn’t seem as dominant as over here. There was the Indian Grand Prix, we had drivers like Karthikeyan and Chandhok, but now everything seems settled down again. Was it difficult for you to get started?
There are plenty of affordable four-stroke karts and tracks to be found, which is where I started too. I moved onto a small league, and the national rotax max championship after that. Last year I moved into cars, as I was awarded a scholarship to do a full season in the Indian MRF Formula Ford 1600 Championship. But it’s true that there isn’t a lot of grassroot motorsports in India, which is why many Indians, like me, are going abroad to race in higher classes. Motorsport is one of many things that is growing in India, but it will take time.

Brad onboard of the Formula Renault 2.0.
Brad onboard of the Formula Renault 2.0.

Now you’re in Hong Kong, readying for the Asian Formula Renault series. How’s iRacing
helping with that?
I’m practicing the same techniques and skills which you need on the real track. In iRacing, whatever good habits you pick up also apply in real racing. iRacing has the Formula Renault, which is nearly identical except for the tyre I’m racing with. I’m also practising a lot with the Skip Barber, which because it’s slower, I tend to better analyse my driving style. Another benefit is that it helps me become more adaptable with my driving.

I really wish I could go back and have started sim racing years ago, when I started racing in real life. I think my progress would have been even better.

How’s the VRS telemetry software helping?
I use it all the time. I’m comparing my own laps to each other, and to the datapacks, because those are the laptimes I’m striving to achieve. I’ve been working with Martti (Pietilä), and he’s helping me with setups, fuel levels, and to figure out where I can progress. I think if you understand where or why you’re losing time, you can apply what you’ve learned to real life. Right now, my focus is mainly on getting faster by improving car control and consistency. I can see what it takes to go fast, but putting it together without making big mistakes on the sim, that’s a real challenge.

Sidequestion here, why do you love racing?
Hmm (pause). That’s actually a difficult question. I think why I like it so much is that you can always search for more. You never stop improving. To never be perfect is both interesting and humbling. The great thing about racing, is that it works in various ways in your life. To succeed in motorsport, you need to be physically fit, especially in a real car. You need to work well with people, also in a top sim racing team. Racing teaches you many life skills, I think it even teaches you to be a better person. Apart from the speed and adrenaline, that’s probably the biggest motivation for me. Competition means you’re always pushing for more. Racing others, that’s the best part.

Exiting the pits.

And this applies to both simulator racing and real life racing?
Yes, it’s very much the same – that’s why I’ve taken to iRacing. I really enjoy it. Apart from the lack of physical demands, I couldn’t ask for something better at home.

Are there differences?
Both have their advantages and disadvantages. Right now, I feel sim racing is so competitive. And what I really like is that there’s no excuses. In real racing it’s really easy to blame the car, and other factors. But you don’t really have that in sim racing. It’s completely down to the driver. That’s why I love sim racing. In real racing, the adrenaline is really there. You’re sometimes inches away from having a crash, always striving to be on the limit. That’s the most exciting part of real racing

Looking long-term, what’s on your mind?
My focus is on my racing career in real life. I’d like to continue the progress I’ve been making, and this year my goal is to win the championship, and to move from Formula Renault to Formula Three next year. And from there to keep moving up the motorsport ladder.

3.6: Practising efficiently: Analysing

video-analyserIn the previous article, 3.5: Self-analysis, we highlighted the importance of allocating practice time for analysis and critical reflection, rather than just spending all your time mindlessly driving on track. In this article, we focus on the methods you can use.

Prioritising your focus

Finding the optimal racing line on the track is usually your first priority. You should address each corner or sequence on it’s own, unless it’s influenced by another in which case you should review the sequence as one. An example of this are the Esses at Suzuka.

When studying telemetry or replays, the priority for speed should be on the exit of the corner, then the entry, and finally mid-corner. First optimise your exit, because most time can be gained here, not just in the corner but also during a full throttle section (such as a long straight) that follows. If you’ve done that, analyse your entry, and finally your mid-corner performance. We rank mid-corner as the lowest priority, because you spend the least amount of time in this phase, and often it will benefit your overall laptime to sacrifice mid-corner speed for a faster entry and exit.


iRacing provides a versatile replay system that can be used to analyse yourself as well as faster drivers. It’s very difficult (especially as a beginner) to memorise your driving with reasonable accuracy. The replay system allows you to rewind to any moment, or any lap. It also allows fine control over playback speed, and a huge variety of cameras and viewpoints. This essentially allows you to review your driving from a third person perspective, from outside the car, so you can better observe what you’ve been doing.

Making use of the different viewpoints is useful. For instance, switch to the chase camera to better understand the braking point relative to a marker on circuit, or see exactly how much curb you’ve used at the apex. It’s also helpful to slow down corners to observe in finer detail what happens very quickly in real-time. While you do this, you can still see all your own inputs, and you can then observe the response from your car in order to understand how effective your driving style is, and spot opportunities for improvement. Perhaps you’ve realised you’re turning in too aggressively which is provoking oversteer. Or, maybe you’ve made a more obvious mistake and simply wish to understand how your inputs may have caused it.


In addition, the simulation allows for the cutting and saving of replays to your computer, making it possible to save and load a lap from a faster driver, who may have been using a different line or braking point to achieve better laptimes.


While the replay system is great, it has many limitations in comparison with telemetry, which can reveal much more information for analysis that your eyes would otherwise miss. For this purpose, telemetry uses live input and vast onboard sensor data from the car which is then displayed through the use of charts and other graphics. It also allows data from two separate laps to be compared, and their differences to be analysed in detail.

While there are many telemetry applications available for use today, most are unintuitive and complicated to use. The VRS software is easy to use and entirely browser-based, and comes with automated logging. Within VRS, the differences between two laps are highlighted in terms of racing line, driving speed and driving inputs, even those differences that would otherwise be impossible to discern from a replay. In addition, with the VRS video analyzer you can look at telemetry and a replay at the same time, in-sync, giving you a visual reference for whatever trace you’re analysing.

Using telemetry for efficient analysis: A case study

Racing line

The driven line is a result of not just steering input, but also braking, throttle and even gear selection. When it comes to telemetry analysis, we shouldn’t isolate one input trace without looking at the others.

With that said, let’s have a look at an example in the VRS software. I’ve chosen to compare a student’s lap with the best lap from the Blancpain Sprint Series data pack at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, with the Audi R8 GT3. We’ll be focussing on corners six and seven: The sequence known as Pont de la Concorde.

The data for both laps is as follows (data pack is the blue trace, while the student’s is purple).


While the entrance, initially, is similar, we can see that the student runs much deeper in-between the two corners – there is a 2.17 metre distance between the two lines at the cursor.


If we look at the time delta (upper graph below), it’s possible to see that most of the time is lost through the apex and exit of the next corner. We can also see why this is the case by looking at the speed traces (lower graph below). The student has a drop in speed into the apex of turn 7, which is carried through to the exit (circled in red).


When we look at the throttle and brake traces below (the dark red line is the data pack), we can see that the student has a much bigger lift (for a distance of 27 metres on track), which results in the loss of speed on the exit. This lift is the result of running wide before turn seven, requiring a tighter radius (see racing line) in the green shaded area, and therefore a drop in speed is necessary.



We have to look at the entry to turn six if we want to fully understand why the student has run too deep before turn seven. Initially the coach actually brakes later than the student, and gains a small advantage. Near the end of the braking zone however, the student bleeds off the brakes much more, briefly regaining some of the lost advantage into the corner.


As a result of bleeding off the brakes more than the coach, the student actually carries more speed into the corner, and it’s precisely this which causes them to run much deeper mid-corner, resulting in the time loss as explained earlier. It would pay off here to sacrifice some mid-corner speed at the apex, get on throttle sooner and take a line better suited for a faster exit.

Monitoring yourself while driving

As you spend more time out of the car studying replays and telemetry, you’ll begin to build an intuition for how your inputs on track relate to what you see when you carry out analysis. For example, if you’ve previously discovered that you’re losing time against a data pack as a result of braking too late, you may have changed your braking reference so you avoid losing time by braking a little earlier. It’s not hard to imagine that you’d now have a better awareness while driving for when you’ve braked too late and to be able to predict afterward how that would have looked in telemetry.

Over repeated sessions of driving-analysis-driving-analysis, you’ll become better at building this self-awareness for how your inputs on track affect your speed, lines and ultimately laptime, without needing to keep referring to telemetry for clarification. The best sim-racers in the world drive mostly at a subconscious level, which frees up their conscious mind to perform in-the-moment analysis as they drive, to which their subconscious can respond with any necessary corrections almost immediately.

iRacing also features a live delta bar on-screen which can be toggled while driving. This gives you immediate feedback on how much behind or ahead of your reference lap (which can be a sector by sector optimal or best continuous lap) you are in the present moment. This is a very useful form of live telemetry which can further enhance your ability to self-analyse in-the-moment.


Up to you

Be sure to load datapack telemetry on the VRS app if it exists for the car / track combo you wish to race (if not, you can book a coaching session, too). Compare your own driving to that of one of our coaches. You’ll find areas where you’re losing out and you may even find things you’re doing better! Otherwise, compare your slow and fast laps against each other to learn from your own driving.

We’ll be back with 3.7 shortly!

2.7: Using datapacks


Data Packs are bundles for a specific car and iRacing series combination, and contain data for tracks in the series for that season. That data includes a hotlap replay file, setup files and telemetry data inside. You can use them as a reference for learning the track and to compare your own telemetry input with that of world class sim racers.

On a weekly basis, VRS coaches spend time to put these files together. For this article, we look at the Data Pack for Week 4 of the Blancpain series, at Mount Panorama, also known as ‘Bathurst’. David Williams is driving the Audi R8, with Olli Pahkala driving the McLaren MP4-12C. Both datapacks are available in the VRS software.

Using datapacks
You can load the replay file in the sim to learn the line around the track and general technique, and you can load the telemetry data in the VRS software to see the driver inputs, such as throttle, steering and braking. You can subsequently load your own data to find out where you’re losing or gaining time. For example, you can see two lines in the graph below, which show David’s braking inputs at ‘The Dipper’, during separate laps.


Make sure your lap is run in the same conditions though (Default Weather).

Telemetry data from world class sim racers
Olli and David are both very experienced sim racers, with slightly differing approaches. Olli tweaks the setup of the car early on and pushes the car hard immediately quickly finding the limit. If you have the experience and skill to match, this is probably the most efficient method of practice.

You can check out Olli’s session onboard here:

In contrast, David has a more conservative approach which works better for him and we certainly recommend it for sim racers of all levels excluding perhaps the very elite.

Choose a base setup which you think will work well for the circuit, and with the exception of something very obvious (such as low downforce at Monza), avoid making early adjustments if you can. Treat the session like the real deal, putting in several laps of fuel so you can focus on settling into a rhythm, avoiding crashes and making continuous, gradual improvement.

Be self critical as you drive, and try to have self awareness for where time may have been lost or gained in the moment (the delta bar displayable with the tab key can help for instant feedback). If you do have a crash, big slide or lock a wheel, take a moment to review the replay until you’re satisfied with what was the cause, so you can learn from it and take measures to prevent future occurrences.

Once you reach consistency with your laptimes and your driving is repeatable, then go to the garage screen and make adjustments based on how you think the car could perform better. When you next go out, your driving should be consistent enough to have reliable feedback for the results of the setup changes.

David’s onboard is below:

Up to you:

Head into the sim and see if you can replicate Olli’s or David’s laps. To access the datapack, click here to go to the VRS software, and click the Datapacks icon on the left. From there, navigate to your season, series and car.


1.5: Software

telUntitled-2There are a number of third party software tools that integrate with iRacing to improve your simracing experience or to aid you in your driving practice or racing. If you are part of a team, there are some nifty tools for team communication and sharing files such as setup or replays. And if you want to record your races and/or stream them on e.g. YouTube, there is software to help you with that as well. Let’s dive in.

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