Sunday, 31 March 2013

My Return to PC Sim Racing

Crash at Curitiba Brazil in Race 07 (Race On)

I spent some time recently playing around in Race 07 (with all it's expansions), I thought this would be a good way to ease me back into PC Sim Racing having not really driven them for the last few years...  Here's how it went...

I've owned SimBin's Race 07 pretty much since it was first released and over time I've bought all the expansions for it - most recently picking up Race Injection (which includes Race 07, STCC The Game 2, Formula RaceRoom, GT Power Expansion, Retro Pack and WTCC 2010 Pack) during the Christmas 2012 Steam Sales.

Despite owning Race 07 for so long, I've hardly turned any laps in the game, and even then, only at about Semi-Pro difficulty.  My PC had been relegated as my gaming platform of choice by my Xbox 360, giant TV screen and home cinema surround sound... but this year, things are going to be different, I'm planning to split my time a bit more evenly between console and PC.

WTCC - Single Player Championship

I decided to start a single player WTCC championship in the Chevrolet, I selected the 2008 season - for some reason the 2010 season did not seem to be an option even though I know I own the WTCC 2010 Expansion Pack.  I set the difficulty to Professional with the AI at about 97% - I want an interesting challenge but I haven't played a racing sim in some time, so I want to stand a remote chance of not finishing last in every race.

Round 1 and 2 - Curitiba, Brazil

This is not a completely new track to me, I have tried it in SimBin's Race Pro on the Xbox 360; even so, I decided to take part in ALL practice and qualifying sessions before the first race.

It took me about a session to get up to speed, but I eventually qualified 2nd on the grid, then had an eventful warm up session (below).

Warm Up Crash in Race 07 at Curitiba

I captured the footage in the video below of a crash I had when I got a bit too close to the edge of the track.  Make sure you watch all the way to the end of the video - I loved the way my car flew through the air appearing from the right side of the frame.

Curitiba Races

Starting from 2nd on the grid, for Race 1, I dropped a place or 2 going into the first corner, but felt pretty comfortable with my position until I ran a little wide on one of the flat out bends before the hairpin in the middle of the track.  I got side-swipped by the AI, causing me to drop to about 12th place but I only suffered light damage and was able to carry on and re-passed some cars on my way to a 5th place finish.  I was pretty happy with that in the end, given that it was my first proper race in the last couple of years.

Race 2 was a standing start, but I didn't seem able to get as good a start off the line as the AI and dropped to about 8th or 9th position early on.  I settled into the race and worked my way cleanly through the field being careful not to hit anyone or damage the car.

Going into the last lap, the leader James Thompson was a little way up the straight, but I was the fastest man on the track and I caught the back of him later in the lap.  I made a lunge for the lead going into the last corner of the last lap - a long fast bend - for a second I thought that's it - I've won, but I drifted a little wide allowing him to do the switchback on me.  We raced for the finish line side-by-side, but he just stole the win by about a tenth of a second.

I was pretty happy overall though as it was an enjoyable return to sim racing and I was actually in the lead of the championship leaving Brazil...  I immediately had to go onto the practice for the next race!

Round 3 and 4 - Puebla, Mexico

Puebla, Mexico - Race 07 (Race On) Infield Section

This was a completely new track for me, so I was expecting to have a hard time here, but I was surprised by the lack of pace of the AI drivers round some of the tight infield corners here.  Within 2 or 3 laps I had already learnt the track and was at the top of the time sheets.

The AI just seemed to be lacking strength at this track and were dawdling through some of the tight Mickey Mouse hairpins that this track seems to have a lot of.  In truth, it's not a particularly exciting track, even though I was fastest.

I qualified on pole by a whole second and went on to lead both races from lights to flag without any real trouble at all, so it doesn't make for a very exciting race report.  However I was very happy that I seem to have regained my spark for sim racing.  It was all coming back to me by this point.

I had a quick test round the next track at Valencia, which I was never really a big fan of in other sims or games, but actually I quite enjoyed my first test here.  I can imagine it would provide a few good multiplayer races.

Race 07 plus Expansions = Recommended

So that about brings you up-to-date with my Race 07 career so far.  I've enjoyed it quite a bit and if you're new to sim racing I can highly recommend you pick up Race Injection which is easily accessible for new racers, lots of fun and best of all, its dirt cheap now, even at full price, or if you're lucky, you can find it on sale on Steam.

Overall, Race 07 and it's expansions may have been around for some time now, but they fully deserve a place on any racing game fan's hard drive.

What's Next?

I can't say for sure if I will be taking my Race 07 career any further at this point... I would like to, but there are only so many hours in the week and I've been trying out some other things lately, so we will have to see.

Watch this space and I'll keep you updated when I can.

by Chris Russell

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