With every racing series on the planet on a superbug-fueled hiatus, resourceful racing junkies are turning to the internet to get their fix.
We’ve used and loved iRacing for over a decade now, and it’s the perfect solution for someone who wants to take their online racing to the next level after consoles.
The service provides a few cars and tracks for free as part of its annual subscription fee, but there’s a plethora of sweet metal that can also be added to your library.
We’ve grabbed five of our favourites for you to potentially add to your library, and we took the opportunity to go for a fast lap or two as well.
Nissan GTP ZX-T (1988)
This IMSA monster dominated US tracks in the late 1980s, with Aussie Geoff Brabham claiming a championship aboard the 590kW, 950kg turbocharged sportscar that’s claimed to be able to do 0-100km/h in just 1.9sec.
This is a fearsome, fearsome animal, and you have to be brave and committed to get the best from it, but lean into its reserves and it rewards you with balance and poise at the limit. It’s not for the faint-hearted, though, and it will spit you into the fence if you’re too delicate and timid with your inputs.
The tiny and tiny Tskuba circuit isn’t the perfect match for the car, but it’s a fun challenge to crank on some downforce and see just how far under a minute you can lap the track in.
Williams-Toyota FW31 (2010)
The first F1 car in the iRacing universe, the Williams takes the notion of sim racing and turns it up to 11. One of the last of the 2.4-litre V8s, the Toyota engine is good for 544kW – not bad when you’ve only got 605kg to push around.
The Williams is a delight to drive, with laser-like responses and an astonishing turn of pace… once your brain is up to speed. It seriously takes a couple of sessions to calibrate yourself with the demands of the car.
The legendary Spa-Francorchamps circuit is a perfect foil for the subsonic speeds and eye-watering grip of the FW31, as well.
Lotus 79 (1978)
The winner of the 1978 F1 driver’s championship, Mario Andretti, will forever be linked with one of the most endearing formula cars of the last century. Resplendent in its JPS black-and-gold colours, the Lotus 79 combined sublime handling and cutting-edge aerodynamics with Ford-Cosworth’s untouchable DVF V8.
The Lotus is one of the surprises of the game – it’s tactile, easy to drive quickly and doesn’t punish the odd ham-fisted input. In the rights hands, it’s devastatingly quick.
Brands Hatch, too, is a huge part of F1 history, and the long, fast GP section of the circuit complements the 79 perfectly.
Ford Mustang Supercar (2019)
She isn’t pretty, but the Ford Mustang Supercar is fast. Out of the box, it won on debut and took the 2019 driver’s and team’s championships, and gave its drivers unprecedented run of victories over the course of the 2019 season.
In-game, the Supercar is one of the trickiest cars to drive, with a surfeit of grip to compensate for its power. A delicate touch and a firm hand are required to keep the Mustang pointed forward, not sideways.
Of course, the Mustang never got to race at the now-defunct Oran Park track – at least not for real. The Supercars championship will visit the track in 2021, though, as part of its eSeries events, and we can’t wait to see the ‘Stang do its stuff.
Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR (2020)
The latest edition to the iRacing world, the Cayman GT4 joins the ranks of rookie-suitable cars like the Mazda MX-5 and Kia Optima GX. It has reasonable power (312kW) blunted by a 1300kg mass, but with big brakes and slick tyres, the Cayman GT4 is not a car to take lightly.
Its midships balance, too, sets it apart from other rookie cars – thankfully, traction control and ABS can be dialled up or down as your experience and the track changes.
The fearsome Green Hell is also a recent addition to the service and once you master its 160 corners, you can then start adding speed.