Broadening horizons: a sim racer’s foray into real-world Goodyear performance
Many racing drivers use home simulators to learn upcoming circuits and to keep their competitive instincts sharp. But there is also truth to the notion that participating in real-world motorsport can help esports drivers to better understand car and tyre behaviour, adding new layers to their own techniques. An example of that can be found in the recent progress of online star Jimmy Broadbent, whose shed-based YouTube channel now has three-quarters of a million subscribers.
Broadbent has been invited to compete in plenty of high-level sim races, but he’s also recently had the opportunity to run a full-season of real-world motorsport aboard a Goodyear-equipped Praga R1 prototype. Broadbent drives simulators often, but he’s found that competing on a set of physical Goodyear racing tyres has given him a fresh perspective on the activity that he has practiced for a decade
“A lot of sim racers like driving in the dry, with no issues and fantastic weather,” says Broadbent. “When people start running in wet weather, it's a different kind of challenge. Driving with a [Goodyear] wet tyre in real life was something I was confused by, first of all, with how much grip I had. I had a lot more grip than I expected. In the sim, they often make it a bit too slippy. Then you drive it in real life and it's like easy mode, it just takes a bit of time to find the quicker lines and you're away.”
Advances in sim racing technology, and a more serious approach from tyre manufacturers such as Goodyear, have tightened the links between real-world and virtual tyres. Goodyear is invested in both areas. On the sim racing side, it has developed an esports tyre model for teams to use in the star-studded Le Mans Virtual Series. On the real-world side, Goodyear supplies tyres to a plethora of categories including the FIA World Endurance Championship’s LMP2 class, FIA ETCR – eTouring Car World Cup, WTCR - FIA World Touring Car Cup, the FIA European Truck Racing Championship and NASCAR.
“Across every simulator, the tyre technology and the information shared by tyre manufacturers has grown and grown,” says Broadbent, who races in the British Endurance Championship - another Goodyear-supported series. “Even over the course of a year, you’ll see two or three iterations of the same tyre model, although slightly tweaked and changed. If they find, for example, that a tyre is overheating a bit too quickly, you can bring it down. When I started, we always used to joke that the tyres felt like they were ice. There was such little information there - there wasn't much to go off, apart from guessing. Now, with all this information, it's got to a point where you can feel a tyre move under you, which is super impressive.”
The information flow runs both ways, as Broadbent has been able to draw on the highly realistic sim racing physics when piloting his 385-horsepower Praga R1.
“Tyre warming sounds like a simple thing, but you have to do it in the sim as well,” says Broadbent. “If you don't, you'll get to turn one on your hot lap, hit the brake pedal, and you’re off. That technique and how to feel the edge of the tyre is something I've learnt from sim racing; that initial feeling that I've perfected since getting into the real car.”
A racing season full of learning culminated in the best possible way for Broadbent, as he and his co-driver Gordie Mutch earned a first British Endurance Championship win at Donington Park in October. While a sim racing background helped Broadbent to get off the ground in real-world motorsport, his full year of driving on Goodyear tyres is set to pay dividends in future virtual competitions too.
Goodyear is one of the world's largest tire companies. It employs about 74,000 people and manufactures its products in 57 facilities in 23 countries around the world. Its two Innovation Centers in Akron, Ohio, and Colmar-Berg, Luxembourg, strive to develop state-of-the-art products and services that set the technology and performance standard for the industry. For more information about Goodyear and its products, go to www.goodyear.com/corporate.