So, every aspect of what we do has been impacted by COVID-19. And for an aspiring race driver with a need for speed that’s very frustrating when you’ve been looking forward to your third season in the BRSCC MX-5 Championship.
Faced with no chance of hitting the track for some months, what was I to do. Furloughed from my role at JZM Porsche, sitting at home watching some classic races on YouTube, how could I fill my time? Well, the plus side of cancelled race meetings is that the racing budget looks pretty healthy. And the savings on all those cancelled meetings got me thinking…. How about a race simulator?
With a blank sheet of paper, zero knowledge of simulators and a budget of around £6,000, the search for a simulator began. However, it seemed that every other race driver stuck at home was doing the same – a global shortage of toilet rolls, hand sanitiser…. and simulator kit.
I narrowed it down to my ideal spec for the budget:
- Sim Lab P1-X Sim Racing Chassis
- Fanatec Podium DD2 Direct Drive Wheel Base
- SimLab SPEED1 – Bucket seat
- Fanatec Clubsport BMW GT2 wheel, gearshifter and pedals
- 49″ Samsung Gaming Monitor
- Gaming PC
Just about in budget, but sourcing the kit was not easy. And there was also going to be the challenge of putting all this lot together and making it work. We contacted various suppliers with a mixed response. Some offered an “off the shelf” solution – a preconstructed system.
Digital Motorsports to the rescue
Sean McGinley at Digital Motorsports came to the rescue and came up with exactly what I was after. Their GT 2 Plug and Play Simulator Rig “fully assembled delivered to your door”. Sean helped with a few recommendations and replacements for out of stock kit. A Heusinkveld Sprints 3 Pedal Set and a Heusinkveld Sequential Gear Shifter replaced the Fanatec equivalents. And the seat was upgraded to the same Sparco seat that I use in my MX-5.
Even better, Sean actually drove the rig over from Ireland, delivered it to my door and set the rig up for me. A great service. He threw in a Fanatec F1 racing wheel to compensate for a delay in delivery and he has also been on the phone a couple of evenings helping out with set up and software downloads.
In terms of software, I’m running Assetto Corsa and iRacing.
It’s early days. It takes some getting used to. But I’m back on track (well at least a virtual one) and getting prepared for the start of the season.