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The thrill of racing, but at a fraction of the cost

For anyone dreaming of becoming a racing driver, the monumental costs associated with the sport at any level is often enough to kill it off.

Car ownership, club membership, race entry fees, spare parts, trailers, travel arrangements – are all costs incurred even before the lights go out on a cold Sunday afternoon.

It seems such a shame that a sport with so many die hard fans around the world have realistically no way to ever participate in it. But after some recent purchases, I can confirm it’s not all doom and gloom!

The virtual racing world has come on leaps and bounds over the years and I have recently taken the plunge to see just how close real motorsport and simulated motorsport have become.

Firstly, I bought a PS4 Pro and GT Sport, the latest game in the Gran Turismo series. I started off by playing using the PlayStation controller and I didn’t think it was too bad, but I soon realised that you’re only getting a fraction of the available experience.

I stepped it up a gear

Black Friday 2017 turned out to be a frantic day at HQ. I’d had my eye on Logitech’s flagship steering wheel, the G29, for well over a month. It was retailing at over £200 in most shops, but when I awoke on that Friday morning, boom, it was down to £128 on good old Sir Amazon dot Co dot UK. Sold!

And if its good enough for Fernando Alonso, then its good enough for me…

With my credit card still looking at me on the desk, I also took the plunge and bagged myself a racing seat in the form of a PlaySeat Challenge. A what?! PlaySeat as a company are the go to shop for home racing seat set ups, but until now all of their offerings were big, bulky and almost unstorable. The ‘Challenge’ model is the complete opposite – it’s a bare essentials fold-able seat making it very storable! This made it the perfect choice to use at home and store in my little man cave. Guests would never know I even had one!

Although I had a blast playing GT Sport, the overwhelming consensus around the world is that the newly released Project Cars 2 is where it’s at if you’re after an all out simulation. And it didn’t disappoint! This game (well, sim!) is truly one hell of a blast. It has loads of circuits and configurations included, all laser scanned down to the most minute detail (bumps, kerbs, the lot). There are all also hundreds of cars available ranging from karts, tin tops, GT’s and open wheelers. Again, the detail in recreating these is staggering.

Here’s how my exact set up looks (although this isn’t actually my house!)

With my limited real life track experience, I was still able to to make some direct comparisons at a handful of circuits. The Silverstone National is the circuit I have lapped the most in my Lotus Exige, and I can honestly say that the recreation in Project Cars 2 is so close to actual thing. I’ll try and get a side by comparison video up as soon as I can.

This gives me great confidence to give PC2 the seal of approval in it being a genuine simulation and not just an arcade racing game.

Dreams of racing in 24 hour GT race

Over the years I have been to so many 24 hour races at Le Mans and Spa-Francorchamps, participating in one has to be the ultimate dream!

It would take years of racing and, you guessed it, money, to be in a position to race at the Le Mans 24 hours or the Blancpain 24 hours of Spa – but Project Cars 2 could provide a nice little stop gap whilst I work to make that dream a reality.

Recently, Barry and I took the Bentley Continental GT3 for a 90 minute spin around Spa and the concentration it took to keep the car undamaged and in the race was really intense. We discussed the idea of running a 24 hour race so this is something we might do later this year.

I can’t recommend enough the set up I now have at home. It will give me endless hours of intense racing fun and experience of racing under pressure. It’s also going to help me learn the tracks I hope to be driving on, back in the real world. Here’s a run down of the costs involved.

PS4 Pro – £350 (non ‘Pro’ PS4’s can be cheaper but not as good graphics)

Logitech G29 – £130 / £210 depending when you buy / offers.

PlaySeat Challenge – £160 / £200 depending when you buy / offers.

Project Cars 2 – £30

Total: £ Priceless

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