At iRace we work hard to promote hard, fair racing. We want the drivers in our series to develop, and to gain the maximum benefit from racing with us. We've evolved a variety of different race formats, including rolling starts, reverse grid races, and perhaps the most beneficial of all, the handicap race format.
The handicap race format allows cars and drivers of all different speeds to race together, and for everyone to have a chance of winning. The basic concept is that the slowest cars start first, with faster cars released in groups at calculated time intervals. In Acuform Muscle Division and K-Mac Touring Car Challenge, we spend a lot of time trying to perfect the groupings, and the time delay. We work out the delay based on the average laptime for each group (taking the fastest time for each member of the group and then averaging from there), and such that the groups should all come together at around 80 percent race distance. This leaves the remaining 20 percent of the race for overtaking. For example in a 10 lap race, we'll try to get everyone to merge on lap 8, with laps 9 and 10 where all the action happens, and the final race result is decided. Occasionally things work out perfectly, and we'll have the whole field covered by 10 or 20 seconds as they greet the chequered flag.
How can drivers maximise their chance of winning? Consistency. If you are able to put in the same laptimes lap after lap, you'll give yourself the best chance of being at the front at the finish. Spin, make a mistake, or lose time on the odd lap trying to hard, and you'll struggle to either: a) hold onto the lead you have (if you started at the head of the field), or b) make up ground on the slower cars ahead. Consistency is the key.
Some other top tips include: try not to lose time being overtaken, the best option is to brake a little early and let a faster car by - this will lose you the least amount of time (unless it's the last lap and you have a chance of keeping the lead!), if you are chasing, be patient - it's tempting to go hell for leather trying to catch the cars you can see so far ahead, but try to pace yourself, drive your markers, and put in smooth consistent laps (pushing too hard risks making mistakes and losing time). If you are out front early, just put your head down and go, go, go.
When you get it right, and handicap race can be the most fun you'll ever have in a racecar. It offers racecraft, strategy, overtaking, being overtaken, and best of all, a thrilling finish.
We were able to put together the following video, showing the perspective of cars at either end of the field as they make their way through a handicap race. Enjoy!