NASCAR Whelen Euro Series, Sim Racing

Arianna Casoli about her beginnings in sim racing: “I am an absolute beginner!”

NASCAR Whelen Euro Series / Guillaume Hesnault

With the introduction of the EuroNASCAR Esports Series, many race drivers have entered the virtual racing world for the first time – Arianna Casoli also still has to get used to the new challenge

When the coronavirus pandemic paralysed motorsports worldwide, sim racing championships sprouted up everywhere. The NASCAR Whelen Euro Series (NWES) also worked hard on a solution and then presented the EuroNASCAR Esports Series (ENES) for the drivers and teams of the NWES. Many drivers, including Arianna Casoli, had to get used to the new discipline in a short period of time.

“I’m an absolute sim racing beginner and driving a NASCAR Cup Series car for the first time was like a trauma,” the Italian joked in an exclusive interwith with ‘Leadlap.net’. “I had to learn everything from scratch: how to install the simulation, create a profile, how the simulation works, how to reset my perception of the car and so on. Once you’ve done that, it’s all about driving the car.”

A real challenge

Since iRacing – on which ENES is based – is one of the most realistic, but also one of the most difficult softwares, it is not easy for racing drivers to get used to this type of racing. The drivers only get the feedback of the car via the steering wheel and the pedals and this is simply an unfamiliar situation for many real race car drivers.

“I have to get used to the simulation and learn how to switch from the physical to the virtual feeling,” Casoli explained. “I must first learn to react to the new influences in order to survive on the track.” Frustration also plays a major role, because at the beginning Casoli – like other sim racing beginners – often hit the track’s barriers. However, the NWES driver gets better and better at the wheel of her virtual car.

Since Casoli has only limited time to practice, she doesn’t have any big goals for the first ENES season. For the CAAL racing driver, it would already be a success to qualify for the main race with 36 spots in one event. Casoli wants to work hard and improve constantly.

What can racing drivers learn from the simulation?

Credits: Michael Großgarten

But can her start in ENES 2020 also have an effect on the real NWES season? Casoli is divided on whether virtual racing can help to improve as a racer. The Italian sees both positive and negative factors that could influence the development of a racing driver.

“It certainly helps to learn the tracks,” she explained. “So we can identify and practice the difficult parts of a track. The simulation also helps to train the ability to focus and work on the setup. We can run as many tests as we want without risk and without high costs.”

However, she also sees a risk: “But that can’t replace real motorsport, because both physical and psychological factors are simply lost in the virtual world. It’s a game that’s fun and can help, but ultimately it’s just a game.” But that’s not yet the most important point that Casoli is critical of.

“I’m afraid that the new generation will use simulations to become a fast driver,” Casoli continued. “The young drivers could miss an important part of the learning process. They may not learn what it means to have an accident or prevent it and this could lead the brain to avoid safety procedure to prevent it. The ESC button simply doesn’t exist in reality.” Casoli said there are a lot of factors that are important to becoming a good racer and they can only be learned in reality.

A look at the real 2020 NWES season

In 2020 Casoli will compete in the EuroNASCAR 2 championship with CAAL Racing for both the Lady Trophy and Legend Trophy. With Julia Landauer the Italian has got tough competition in the women’s championship. But Casoli can draw on four years of NWES experience. She also gets a new team mate in Gianmarco Ercoli, as Alon Day has left the team to join PK Carsport.

“I am looking forward to sharing the car with Gianmarco,” said Casoli. “He is young, fast and it will be great fun to work with him.” Due to the Coronavirus pandemic and the difficult times it has brought with it, Casoli does not yet want to set any real targets for the 2020 season. She says she wants to have “fun” and give “the best” with the team.