Mastering a car and track combination is essential to be fast in SimRacing. Countless hours of setup work and numerous practice laps are needed to be among the best – and all of it can fall apart once the elements of nature come into play: Racing in the rain is almost like an entirely different discipline that most SimRacers seem to dread – they should embrace it, however.
Anyone who has taken part in SimRacing events or leagues likely knows the collective groan in the voice chat when the session rolls over from qualifying to race and there is rain falling for the start. The smallest fraction of SimRacers seemingly does not have a problem with racing in wet conditions, the majority just hopes the dark clouds dissipate quickly and they can resume racing like normal.
Their apprehension is understandable: Wet weather racing means less grip, increased potential of crashing, and that a less-practiced driving style is required. In short: Most SimRacers are not in their comfort zone once it starts raining. There are good reasons to embrace dark clouds turning up in the sky over a virtual race track – here are some of them.
It is a great equalizer
With the fastest racers usually checking out at the start of a race only to be seen again whenever they are lapping the rest of the field, rain spices things up considerably. A perfect dry setup is not worth much once the heavens open up and wash a few cars off the track – usually, this means car choice is not part of the equation anymore either. The driver and their car control (or lack thereof) make all the difference.
Additionally, rain resets everyone’s strategy and encourages gambles on when to change from dry to wet tires and vice versa. This opens up the possibility of different results than the usual racers that dominate your league races every week taking the top spots yet again.
It forces you to refine your driving technique
As was touched upon in the previous point, rain races require a different approach in the virtual cockpit. Braking with the same force as in the dry will lead to lockups or serious understeer, and not being careful with the accelerator, you are likely to face the wrong way rather sooner than later.
This teaches you a better feeling for using the throttle and the brake to your advantage – experience that can be helpful in the dry as well. Understanding the behavior of your car will make you a better SimRacer. An added bonus: free counter-steering lessons.
It makes you rethink your setup work
A near-perfect weather report for an endurance race makes everyone’s setup building process easy. With the possibility of rain looming, you do not want to be caught out with a setup that works perfectly in the dry but makes the car almost undrivable in the wet. As a result, a compromise is needed.
Understanding what needs to be changed and what effect it has is important for dry setups as well, but building a hybrid or full-wet setup requires looking into the different parameters a bit more. Again, this adds valuable experience to your SimRacing portfolio.
It looks really cool
Okay, this one is a bit of an outlier, as dry scenarios can look absolutely stunning as well. But there is just something about the reflections of a rainy sunset or a wet track at midnight, almost mirroring the lights of trackside buildings and cars racing by, that oozes a certain atmosphere. Granted, visibility is not exactly better off, especially when following other cars, but it does add a certain spectacle to a race.