Drivers and fans alike will soon be able to experience Circuit de la Sarthe unlike anything before, following last week’s announcement that the world-famous Le Mans circuit will be added to iRacing.
The upcoming release for the popular simulation will offer sports car drivers a new platform to help prepare for the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans, particularly with virtually no testing available on the full 8.469-mile circuit, which is comprised mainly of public roads.
"To be able to prepare for Le Mans on iRacing and do laps on a consistent track will be really valuable for any driver, especially if you’re new going there," Corvette factory driver Jordan Taylor told FOXSports.com.
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"It was my fourth year this year and you’re still learning stuff because it’s such a long track, you can only see the corners so many times during the week.
"To be able to have unlimited laps and try all sorts of different things, I think it’s good in that respect. Getting on iRacing to learn race craft is also pretty valuable."
Taylor, who claimed GTE-Pro class honors in this year’s race, is among the new generation of drivers who have utilized sims as an effective training tool, alongside Corvette Racing teammate Tommy Milner.
"I know for me growing up, my first times at race tracks, my learning curve was made a lot shorter based on the fact that I was able to drive some sims," Milner said. "Even if the tracks weren’t perfect back then when I did it, it at least gave you a nice rhythm.
"Obviously now with these perfect replications of the tracks in the games, it makes that bit of learning a new track or car that much easier."
While Milner remembers preparing for his first Le Mans in 2006 using rFactor, an open-source sim, Taylor relied heavily on on-board videos for his debut in 2011 and feels the addition of the full, laser-scanned version of the Le Mans circuit will help get rookies up to speed quicker.
"The only thing then was YouTube videos," Taylor said. "The biggest one was Allan Simonsen’s video. He was the first guy to go below 4:00 and I watched that video probably 100 times, trying to study the track. Studying on-boards was the closest thing you could get to it.
"Now to actually be able to drive on the track on iRacing will be a much bigger step in the right direction.
"I think it will be huge for rookies. You get there the first day and the track is so intimidating. You’ve seen it in videos and you’ve seen it on TV, but when you get there in person and see the elevation changes and curbs, it’s all different.
"To be able to actually sit in a simulator and see what you’re going to see when you’re on the race track is perfect.”
While both drivers admit a sim will never fully replicate the actual experience, it’s as close to the real-life experience many people will get, particularly for one of the most prestigious races in the world.
"There’s always bits and pieces that are different than you’d expect in a game," Milner said. "For me, it was the first time going out on the Mulsanne out of Tetre Rouge and just seeing how long and how fast you’re going for the first time.
"There’s no question that [sims] help and I knew where the track goes and knew the flow of it. That’s a huge help no matter what.
"But for the people using these sims, they’re getting as close as they’ll ever get to what it feels like to drive these race cars and tracks in real life, which is incredible."