Project Cars 2
Treating these magnificent machines with the respect they deserve
will be the most expensive amateur race in history. Thanks to an unprecedented level of organisation, involving months of logistics and tens of millions in shipping fees alone, there are now 20 Ferrari LaFerraris lined up and ready to annihilate 12.83 miles and 107 turns of the California Highway.
As the tree starts to light up, 126 litres of V12 start to scream. Come the greens, we all erupt from the starting grid thanks to 900 Nm of electricallyassisted torque, accelerate to 100 km/h in just 2.4 seconds - and then all slam into the barrier as we reach the first left-hander.
There’s a huge tangle of LaFeraris. Silver ones, yellow ones, ones clearly covered in vinyl wrap for the race since Ferrari would never let one of these cars be painted like that. Me, I’m in a red one.
“CONTACT Lap Time invalidated” says the annoying yellow AR sigil in the corner of my vision. I care not. I haul the wheel around and mash the accelerator. The shift-lights flicker constantly as the seven-speed dualclutch auto struggles to make sense of the data the roughly nine thousand computers distributed around the car are feeding it.
A mere seven or eight seconds later, we all get our noses pointed in roughly the same direction, and wiggle on down the road. Just as we’re all hitting 120, a hairpin right comes up and we all slam into the barrier again.
The noise is terrific. Not a screeching of metal, as such, but the much more expensive, splintering sort of noise you get from carbon fibre as it shatters. On we go, banging and scraping our way toward the finish line, now only 12.74 miles distant.
This is a point-to-point race, the kind of road that really makes the LaFerrari shine. I assume. I mean, if I could drive this thing with any skill, and if Project Cars 2 and its incredible level of detail wasn’t constantly making it extremely obvious that an Xbox One controller ain’t gonna win me no races. This kind of dance needs a proper wheel.
Eventually though, the road widens out enough for us to put a little space between each car. We rocket through a bunch of tight chicanes and manage a couple of hairpins without touching the barriers. Tunnels come and go, momentarily blocking out the cheerful, late afternoon sun. It’s 1800h, and if I managed to set up the weather properly, that means any second now…
Ah yes. Here it is. Precisely one third of the distance through the race, thick driving snow reduces visibility to yards, and now we’re pushing 200km/h on the bends, tarmac wet where it isn’t icy.
It’s amazing how little effect Pirelli P-Zero Corsa tyres have on a largely frictionless surface. We’re driving mostly on angular momentum now, relying on the LaFerrari’s 1585kg kerb
It’s amazing how little effect Pirelli P-Zero Corsa tyres have on a largely frictionless surface
weight to swing us through the corners after each brief contact with dry-ish ground. The “CONTACT Lap Time invalidated (sic)” sigil is lit up pretty much permanently now, so it hardly bothers me anymore.
Two thirds of the way through the race, right on schedule, the blizzard gives way to a late summer haze. Sunlight comes blasting in at a low angle, lighting up every scratch on the windshield, dazzling me into a few more lap time invalidations. It’s not the weather effect itself that’s so impressive, it’s the transition. The snow doesn’t magically stop, the grey clouds break up into patches of flickering sunlight first. Sleet melts and beads on the car, and shining puddles span the road in treacherous bands.
We hit a section of proper freeway, five lanes each way (I think, it’s hard to count at 300km/h). I make up serious time, and spin out that prick in the silver car with a quick touch to a rear fender. Incredibly, after spending most of the race in the middle of the pack, I’m mere milliseconds from placing…
The final moments happen so fast. We’re screaming toward the finish, six cars in a tight group. There’s a final crest and I hit it well over 220. The LaFerrari flies like a bird, I’ve never had air like this before, it feels like the car will just keep going up.
It doesn’t of course. It hits hard, and if the game modelled damage properly, I’d probably be wearing the front shocks as eyebrow piercings. But this IS a game, so I’m able to bounce, and I bounce right over the top of the second place car to steal his silver at the last possible moment.
I miss the top of the podium by just 0.3 of a second. But as I climb out of the car in triumph, a white-faced marshal is striding toward me shaking his finger. “It doesn’t count!” he screams. “You hit the barrier! No score for you!”
Behind us, something like $40 million of the pinnacle of automotive art hisses and wheezes and collapses on shattered struts and splintered drivetrains. I should probably have mentioned at the beginning that we’re all VERY drunk.
And they call it a boring sim.
Yellow bastard stole my number plate!
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