How to get into sim racing: 7 tips from Esports sim racer Josh Rogers
Find out about this exciting Esport with the Porsche Coanda Esports Racing Team driver
Porsche Coanda Esports Racing Team driver Josh Rogers at wheel
From learning technical skills to staying fit, top driver Josh Rogers offers expert advice on how to up your sim racing game
Esports, or sim racing, is one of the world’s fastest growing and exciting competitive sports. Part of the Porsche family, the Porsche Coanda Esports Racing Team has established itself as one of the leading outfits in the sport. One of its star drivers is Australian pro sim racer Josh Rogers. Josh tells us about his journey towards the top of the sim racing game and dishes out some handy tips about how you can get involved.Fuelled by a family passion for motorsport, Josh began his journey back home in Australia when he began competitive karting aged just seven. But like many, he was also into gaming too and soon switched entirely to sim racing, joining teams competing in local leagues in his homeland. A pivotal moment for Josh came in 2016, when he qualified for his first iRacing World Championship – a feat that caught the eye of the Coanda Esports team, which he joined in 2018, before moving across to the Porsche Coanda Esports Racing Team in 2022.With the support of his new team, Josh has gone on to win some of the biggest tournaments in his sport, including the VRS GT iRacing World Championship, the Porsche TAG Heuer Esports Supercup and the Virtual Le Mans 2020. Now a top sim racer with a host of titles under his belt, including in endurance Esports racing, Josh is able to offer plenty of insight into the world of competitive sim racing.What is sim racing?Sim racing, a portmanteau of simulator racing, is a digital form of car racing that replicates real-world motorsports, including variables such as fuel consumption, tyre wear and suspension adjustments. Although sim racing started out as a niche activity, it quickly turned into a global Esport phenomenon – and Josh was there to see the shift. “The Esports sector really exploded during COVID,” he says. “Now sim racing is more professional and has turned into a sport in its own right, rather than just a spin-off of motorsport.” Professional sim racing teams, often backed by car manufacturers like Porsche, now have racing seasons just like real-world motorsport series, such as Formula 1 and the FIA World Endurance Championship. Today, Josh and his fellow competitors travel around the world to compete on stage in front of live audiences.
Josh Rogers at the 2023 ESL R1 sim racing tournament
Josh Rogers in his racing simulator: to fix and tune his car to get it ready for a race means that he has to be a mix between a driver and engineer
Do you need to be a real-world track driver to compete in sim racing?You might expect that to be a great sim racer you also need to be adept in a racecar on a real track – but Josh certainly doesn’t think so. “Sure, it’s important to know the fundamentals,” says Josh. “But there’s plenty of professionals in Esports that have never driven a real car.” More important than real-world driving skills, he says, are quick reflexes, strategic thinking and a deep understanding of the game’s mechanics.“As a driver in Esports, you find yourself doing multiple things,” says Josh. “You’re a driver as well as an analyst, an engineer and a strategist. Being part of an operation like the Porsche Coanda Esports Racing Team means that we have a lot more people involved in that process so we can focus on the race. But in terms setting up the car, we’re mostly on our own.” For Josh, one thing is clear. If you want to get the most out of your car, you need to get to grips with the in-game car settings and strategy.
Trophy lift at the 2023 ESL R1 sim racing tournament
Live Esport tournaments, like the 2023 ESL R1 event here, are filmed and broadcast live online across the globe
Josh’s 7 top tips on how to get into sim racing1. Practice, practice, practice to become a better sim raceLike any other sport, sim racing is all about practice. Consistency is key and getting to the top requires hundreds of hours in a racing rig – the cockpit, monitors and equipment set-up that drivers sit in. “We have unlimited testing time,” says Josh, “so we use that to the max. A lot of it is trial and error. But as you train on the simulator, you feel the changes you need to make to the car, and that helps you become a better driver.” Spending time driving different tracks and with various cars to understand the nuances of the simulation is just as important.“One of the most important things in sim racing is learning circuits,” says Josh. “In every high-end simulation, the real-life tracks are laser scanned, making your in-game experience pinpoint accurate.” Learning and practising on these tracks can make the difference between success and failure.2. Learn from other sim racing driversAs soon as Josh joined the Porsche Coanda Esports Racing Team he began studying the other drivers, paying attention to how they performed in the sim. He also got advice from real life racing drivers too. “We’re always talking about things with them, sharing feedback and opinions,” says Josh of the real-world Porsche racing drivers that he gets to meet. “It’s good to be able to bounce information off those guys, as you start to see some aspects of the sim a little different.”
Action from ESL R1 Fall 2023 race won by Josh Rogers
Action from ESL R1 Fall 2023 race, which Josh (in car #92) won, showing the great levels of detail and realism at the top end of Esports
3. Understand the differences and similarities between real life driving and handling a sim racing carJosh says that while there are of course differences between driving on a track in real life and in a gaming situation, certain aspects are shared, like learning race craft. “For example, that includes how you position the car, how you fight others in a race or how you change parameters in the set-up, whether aerodynamically or mechanically,” says Josh. “There are so many things that we can change. And those things will have an impact on how the car behaves.” Learning how to adapt your driving skills to the game is crucial to your success, as is learning the difference in track response between sim cars and their real-world counterparts.4. Prepare for the mental and physical pressures of sim racingEven though you can’t get physically hurt if you experience an ‘off’ in sim racing, Josh believes that the mental pressures of sim racing is every bit as great as you experience in a real-world racecar. “On the one side there’s the pressure you put on yourself,” says Josh. “A tenth of a second could be the difference between making it through to the final or getting knocked out, so you have to nail every single lap.”Then there are the external distractions that a sim driver must deal with when he’s on stage. “It’s not as easy as it may look. You’re not putting on a helmet and sitting in the car with no one around you, like in a real-life racecar. You’ve got lights and cameras and all these other things there when you’re trying to focus.”
Close-up of VRS sim racing wheel in Esports racing rig
While it’s important to get your racing gear right, price isn’t everything. Josh believes in starting cheap and only investing in high-end equipment once you’re fully committed
5. To become a top Esports driver, you need to stay fitTo get an edge on your fellow Esports competitors can often be down to getting the details right – which means being physically fit. And that also feeds into being mentally fit to compete too. “Sport can really help you be a better sim driver. The less energy your body needs from a physical standpoint, the more it can put into your brain. It allows you to focus on more things at once in the game.”6. Set up a sim racing rig that’s right for youWhether you are just starting out or looking to further your involvement in Esports, sim racing can be as affordable or as expensive as you are prepared to make it. Basic sim racing rigs can start at a few hundred dollars, while professional-grade rigs, like the one that the Porsche Coanda Esports Racing Team use, can run into many thousands. Your investment should depend on how serious you are about the sport and what level of realism you’re looking for.“I have a racing rig with an extruded aluminium profile set-up, which I can configure any way I like,” says Josh, who uses a VRS® DirectForce® Pro Formula Steering Wheel and fully adjustable VRS DirectForce Pro Pedals. He also has a Sabelt race seat and an ultrawide monitor, which is typical for racing on the RENNSPORT racing platform that he and his colleagues race on. “Obviously, my set-up is high-end,” says Josh. “But if you’re just starting out, it’s not necessary to go all out. You can just have a desk and a cheap steering wheel, and if you find it fun and enjoy the driving aspect, then you can start to dive a bit deeper.”
Porsche Coanda Esports Racing Team driver Josh Rogers with trophy
Trophy lift: Josh after he beat 23 fellow competitors to win the ESL R1 Fall Series Major Finale at the DreamHack 2023 event in Jönköping, Sweden
7. Never forget that Esports racing is about having funAbove all, says Josh, sim racing should be about enjoyment. “First and foremost, just have fun,” he says. “When I started I couldn’t even keep the car on the road. If you go in expecting too much, you’re eventually going to throw in the towel. Treat it like any other hobby. Watch videos, talk to people. Start by enjoying it and then you might choose to pursue it professionally.”Keep up to date with all the news, results and stories from the track – real and virtual – at the Porsche Motorsport Hub
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