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SimRacing and the case for race strategy

A NGK & NTK branded red and black Toyota GR 86 on the Nürburgring race track, birdview
Since the launch of its first Esports Cup in 2022, Niterra has been involved in the exciting world of SimRacing, and after a further two championships across the EMEA region, the company’s commitment to this new branch of virtual motorsports is going from strength to strength.

As a global ignition and vehicle electronics specialist we already have a long-standing record of supporting motor racing across many different disciplines, including Formula 1 and the World Superbike racing series. No surprise then that we get involved with the fast-growing discipline of virtual, on-screen racing. Together with iRacing, the sport’s No. 1 platform, competitors have been able to enjoy improved driving realism, realistic handling and detailed laser-scanned tracks from around Europe. 

But just like any other motorsport, there is so much more to success than simply speed. Winning a race, or even qualifying for one, depends on the ability of the driver to plan ahead and conserve their resources in order to outwit their competitors.

The importance of strategy in SimRacing

To better understand why this blend of gaming and motorsports is gaining such traction, and why planning plays such a crucial role in succeeding within the sport, we sat down to discuss strategy with Lucas Müller and Leo Krippner from the Dörr Esports team, which is part of the traditional racing team, Dörr Motorsports.

SimRacing is a very accessible sport for most people. Participants can begin with nothing more than a good internet connection, a monitor, a steering wheel, pedals, a race rack for pros and some racing software.

And while it is possible to go far without spending a fortune on equipment, most experts agree that racing strategy and the way that drivers approach each race is key to success.

Leo and Lucas both recommend beginning with a glance at the Leaderboard. Activity here tends to increase considerably in the last few days before a race. Attention must be paid to a racer’s standing on the Leaderboard and, if necessary, a faster time must be achieved if it looks like they might fail to qualify.

Once qualification has been secured, it is time to plot a race. This raises the question of whether to plan in advance or strategise during the race. Both experts conclude that there is a place for both viewpoints. For instance, attention must be paid to the type of competition and regulations in place before the race begins, but how to drive during a race can depend on track factors such as the need for pit stops and how many cars are surrounding competitors.

Additionally, just like in regular motorsports, there are lone racers, but many people are part of bigger teams. This offers obvious benefits when it comes to planning races. Team members can communicate with each other via Discord/Teamspeak, in order to develop support strategies such as allowing faster racers to pass slower members of the group and using their valuable slipstreams to let others qualify successfully.

As Lucas and Leo point out, SimRacing teammates are often more helpful to one another than in real motorsports and are willing to share the necessary work needed to prepare for races and the testing of different parameters and scenarios. In addition, team members can pool valuable engineering support and advice from real motorsports experts that are often on hand to help when making key race decisions.

“We go through different scenarios for pit stops, for example, and we consult engineers who possess tools and knowledge from real motorsport for long-distance races”, Lucas says.

The sports growing popularity is reflected in the number of SimRacing teams that now include Team Redline, Williams Esports, BS+Competition, Apex Racing Team and, of course, Lucas and Leo’s Dörr Esports. With big prize money now at stake, SimRacing even has race stewards and race directors to monitor competitions and ensure that the rules are obeyed.

And the winner is…

Indeed, you could hardly have found a more exciting conclusion to any sporting competition than the fans experienced at the final race of the 2024 NGK & NTK Esports Cup on 05 April this year. In true nail-biting fashion, the finale at the Nürburgring in Germany saw Daniel Muth from Nürburgring Esports, Nikolas Nolde from Impulse Racing, Vince Peeters from Visceral Esports and Alexander Thiebe from Urano Esports form a tight leader group early on in the race in the battle for first place on the legendary circuit. With hardly a centimetre between them, the group made a joint pit stop on lap six and in the rush to exit, Alexander, who had started in pole position, dropped back, leaving the other three to fight it out. On the final straight approaching the Tiergarten and the chequered flag, Daniel gave a final blast to his race and to the overall competition by using Níkolas’ slipstream to catapult himself to the front of the pack, where he just managed to hold off his challengers and win a sensational race. We caught up with the victor during post-race celebrations.

“It was a fantastic competition, and I loved every single minute of it. It was touch and go at times whether Nikolas would pass me in the final straight and at one point we were side by side, but I managed to hold him off. I benefited from some good strategic choices including pit stops and a well-timed push in the final lap. I am really looking forward to getting behind the wheel next year to defend my title.”

The race has proved to be a hit across social media platforms including YouTube and has already racked up 43,000 views, 610,000 impressions and an impressive 13.715 hours of watch time. In total, it has attracted 30,000 unique viewers.

After three successful Esports Cup events, Niterra will be sure to include SimRacing when reviewing its motorsports portfolio for next year. Participants and fans alike will certainly be looking forward to what the coming year holds.