Racing simulators are still growing rapidly, and a big thing that hasn’t truly been cracked is one of the most common occurrences in real-world driving: rain. It’s a complex physics issue that has eluded developers and pushed computing power to its limits. There is hope that it will be solved, though, as the developers of iRacing are full steam ahead on an insanely technical rain physics model.
iRacing is still the de facto leader of the sim racing world. It’s the place to go if competition is your priority, even if it's quite expensive to keep up and can be frustrating at times due to its no-fault penalty points system. Hidden beneath the subscription fees and $15 tracks is a game that is at the forefront of driving simulation and does genuinely have the best tire and handling model of any sim out there. The news that this same group of developers is tackling rain is extremely exciting.
In a development blog post and video, a few hints about the complexity of the model were given without showing iRacing’s entire hand. Senior Vice President of iRacing Greg Hill says the tire model will recreate accurate water dispersion and any water that isn’t displaced can be boiled away from frictional energy. The model is still in development, with Hill promising a deeper dive when it's more complete. The track will also be dynamic based on sunlight and temperature. W
ith the primary challenge of iRacing being tire management, this adds a new level of difficulty to the game. Hill says the rain physics also comes with updates to dry track evolution, with track rubbering and polishing getting an update in conjunction with the rain model.
Along with updates on rain, iRacing is bringing two new tracks including the more aggressively banked Zandvoort circuit and the diamond-in-the-rough Kern County Raceway oval course. For the nerds, three-dimensional curbing is also in the works with requisite tire physics changes. Several older tracks are getting a texture and art facelift as well.
The sim is looking strong and bringing exciting new features. Given how Gran Turismo 7 is progressing, as well as the new Assetto Corsa and Forza Motorsport games on the horizon (get it?), those of us who partake in virtual motorsport have a lot to look forward to.
I just cannot wait to get punted out of rain races in iRacing in Porsche GT3 Cup cars.
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