Josh Rogers leads the Porsche pack.
Josh Rogers, Coanda Simsport
Welcome to another round of Getting Faster in iRacing that follows my continued attempt to raise my iRating to a respectable level. By doingI've done some serious hardware upgrades to spend more time behind my (fancier) bike. Next Up, I delve deep into the plethora of telemetry and setups and help me get up to speed faster, mostly by finding out what I did wrong. I gained a lot of time, but wondered if a more direct, hands-on lesson could be better.
To find out, I tried a little one-on-one coaching.
Driver coaching is widespread (and expensive) in motorsport, especially in the various exotic GT series that are mainly populated by well-heeled amateurs. Just as Sim Racing tries to recreate every other aspect of real motorsport, Sim Coaching has become one thing. And when you get a virtual coach, you can get the best too.
Josh Rogers is a Pro Sim racing driver for Coanda Simsport and the current Porsche Esports Supercup champion. Suffice it to say that he knows a virtual GT car, which is perfect because I needed help there.
Thespecifically. The The Le Mans series has recently visited Spa and in a few weeks the Roush World Tour Enduro series that I run will also be driving there. Spa is a route that I know well, but one can say with certainty that I have never mastered the place.
Few have. Almost four and a half miles long, it's one of the largest and most challenging circuits still on the active Formula 1 calendar – or usually the Formula 1 calendar anyway. It's one of my favorite songs in the world, and when VRS offered me a coaching session to see if I could improve my skills, it was a natural choice. The regular costs? $ 100 an hour.
Look at that:
The 3 best wheels and pedals for iRacing
With an upcoming iRacing downtime window (see picture) and conflicting time zones, Josh and I chose a bright and early 7am for my session. Life and everything else kept me from iRacing the days before, but you can be sure that I got up early this morning and did a few good laps before my 60-minute session.
Josh and I met on Discord and he started getting my telemetry out of the just completed session where I only managed to get a 2: 17.6 round with full tanks. That was rather inconvenient compared to Josh's best full throttle lap, a 2: 13.9. Worse, I struggled to stay within the line boundaries. The punishments flew like so many beetles on the windshield.
Josh projected his telemetry over mine and told me everything I did wrong. Yes, dear reader, that was as daunting as you might expect. I dropped tenths everywhere and over half a second through the Les Combs complex that comes after long Kemmel Street.
Lost time in Les Combes.
Tim Stevens / Roadshow
I braked too early for one thing, but also braked too long and didn't carry enough speed through the following left-right complex. Conversely, I stepped on the gas too early between the curves and caused understeer. This meant I steered too much to compensate for this, waste time and add unnecessary tire wear. The last bit didn't hurt my lap times, but I would suffer later in a full race.
We spent almost half the session going through every corner until my head swam with pointers and corrections. Josh was great at getting encouragement and telling me when I did it right, but I obviously had a lot to do.
Then it was time to start iRacing and the pressure only got higher. We hopped into a private session and Josh told me to get on the track. He would stay in the box, watch the live feed, and become the all-seeing, all-knowing voice of God in my ear that calls every missed tip.
Intimidating? Very. I don't know if it was this pressure or the dim view I was suffering from, thanks to the dozens of clues and tips he had given me. In both cases I struggled with both my pace and my constancy. I ran 2: 18s, half a second slower than before! Did this coaching make me worse?
I ran 2: 18s, half a second slower than before! Did this coaching make me worse?
I knew I was trying to do too much, experimenting with different lines through every corner, desperately struggling not to fool one of the best in the world. The clock was now running out. For the last stint, I decided to focus on just two corner complexes, Les Combes, which I described above, and the screaming fast descent around Pouhon.
Finally things started to come together. I ran a 2: 16.7, a full second faster than my morning session. Josh and I went back to telemetry analysis for a quick look at the last round. This time, he called out my areas for improvement and the positions that still needed work.
And then my time was up and I had pages of hastily jotted down notes. That night I took these notes and went back to Spa, did more laps and focused on specific turns in each stint. After a few sessions of methodical progress I finally got 2: 15.7, two seconds faster than before and about 1.5% less than Josh. Yes, I know that many of you are much faster, but given my usual performance, that's a huge improvement for me.
But was it worth the cost? It depends on how serious you mean all of this. While much of Josh's feedback focused on spa, I took away a lot of useful hints that will benefit me on every upcoming track. The bottom line was that many of these clues focused on small details, points that I had seen in telemetry but had previously ignored. I will definitely not go forward.
There are many Sim coaches online who offer their services through many channels. Not all of the reviews I've read in various forums and Reddit threads are the same. It's reassuring that VRS is a well-known figure. The site makes it easy to book and leaves you with no doubt about who you are getting and how good they are. Yes, the cost is extreme – iRacing service fees for one year have passed in an hour – but as always, when it comes to such things, one question matters: how much is your time worth to you?