With many race cars using either paddle or sequential shifters, you can drive using left-foot braking. In this video, you can see the movement of the chassis under braking and acceleration along with the jerks from shifting.
Vision is an important part of the simulator experience of course, and the VirtualGT has a number of screen options to choose from. The tester I drove had the big daddy three-screen setup consisting of 40″ LCD displays. A unique aspect of the displays used is their narrow bezel creating a minimal interruption between screens. There are also options for smaller 24″ LCDs or single 50″ plasma. I feel a three-screen setup is really required though as it allows you to properly look ahead through the corners just as you would in real life.
The three-screen setup allows you to properly look ahead and through the corners. The video starts with me going through the corkscrew at Laguna Seca. I’m shaking my head a bit after because I botch a corner (first lap driving the simulator, no ABS and no traction control). In the lower left hand of the center screen you can see the throttle (green) and brake (red) pedal application along with the gear indicator and steering input. Each time I shift, you can see the chassis jerk to simulate the kick you’d feel in real life. The car I’m driving is the HPD ARX-01 and it stops pretty quick! I brake way too soon for turn 1.
Ian is demonstrating the simulator along with iRacing. Again, keep an eye on the throttle and brake inputs and notice how Ian dances on the pedals to balance the car; just mashing the throttle often results in spins and mashing the brakes often leads to locked-up tires. Notice the Radical sounds completely different than the HPD ARX-01. When Ian downshifts this car using the sequential shifter, he gives the throttle a quick stab to rev match and reduce the shock on downshifting as you would have to do in real life. The Radical is more forceful than the HPD on shifting. Pay attention to the audio and vibrations when going over the rumble strips; these are very high frequency vibrations that the vibration transducers duplicate though the seat and steering wheel. Virtual-GT has different levels of settings for all the audio, motion and vibration transducers and Ian had it turned down two notches during this demo.
Here is Ian taking out the Radical SR8 at Laguna with all the driver aids turned off (ABS, traction control, shifting (auto-blip)).
Disclaimer: Please excuse my crappy driving. This is me taking the Radical out for a few laps at Laguna. Notice how the car is shaking at idle at the beginning due to the engine vibrations. The feedback through the entire system is phenomenal. You can hear and feel when to shift due to the engine note and vibrations and you can feel the rear sliding wide with too much throttle. Just before entering the corkscrew, there is a little crest causing the front of the car to get light. If you are on the brakes too hard and ABS is enabled, you can feel the ABS kick in. With the properly weighted brake pedal effort along with the vibration transducer to simulate the feel, it’s pretty easy to modulate the brake pressure for threshold braking. Do you know what is great about a simulator? You can drive a bit over your head and crash without really killing yourself. In the real world, I drive pretty conservative on track for a couple reasons: safety, avoiding excessive wear and tear, and the fact I have to drive the car to work the next day. Tires, busted car parts and towing fees are not cheap!
The VirtualGT simulator truly is amazing. The sounds, the motion, the visuals, and all the little shakes and bumps that the VirtualGT can do really do a fantastic job of duplicating the sensations of driving. The functionality of the VirtualGT makes it a great training tool in addition to being a heck of a lot of fun; like karting, it’s another way to keep the skills sharp and even prepare for upcoming races as you can load up the real race track you would be driving on. If you live in the southern California area, the producers of the VirtualGT are located in Costa Mesa and you can visit their facility for a test drive. Or, you can rent out the truck with the mobile demonstration unit and have a heck of a lot of fun. Or, if you’re like the gentleman going to Laguna Seca for the first time ever and driving a Mustang, you can load up the track and car you’ll be racing to get practice in without ever setting foot down. Even F1 drivers will use simulators to familiarize themselves with tracks. Regardless if you’re a professional racer or just an enthusiast, the VirtualGT simulator really is something worthwhile to drive.