iRacing is an extremely realistic racing simulator. Its top driver won $US10,000, despite never driving over 100 mph in real life. Top Gear put him in an open-wheel racer to see if digital skills translate to real racing prowess.
It was lots closer than you might expect. Racing in a Star Mazda, the driver, a 30-year-old Finn by the name of Greger Huttu (pictured), clocked in a lap time three seconds off of what an experienced driver would be expected to deliver. Three seconds is an eternity in motorsports, but consider this was the very first time he'd ever sat in the cockpit of a racer.
Top Gear's telemetry confirmed Huttu's racing acumen: "His braking points are spot on. He's firm and precise on the throttle. And in the fastest corner, he's entering at 100mph compared to an experienced driver's 110 - a sign of absolute confidence and natural feel for grip," Top Gear wrote.
The piece also gives insight into the physical demands of F1 racing. Huttu's a bit pudgy and his head feels like it weighs a ton as he whips through the high G-force turns. Huttu barfs inside his helmet, takes some motion sickness pills and gets back to the track, but after 15 laps is utterly exhausted. It's fascinating to consider that the biggest barrier to Huttu being an elite racer is the sport's physical demands, rather than its tactical ones.
"It might be a bit late for 30-year-old Greger to get into perfect physcial shape, but for all the younger dreamers out there, our advice is simple," Top Gear writes. "Sit yourself at a PC, load up iRacing and give it a go - you could have some of the magic stuff too. And if you do, be sure to join a gym. Quickly."