Inaugural World’s Fastest Gamer winner Rudy van Buren scored a job as an F1 simulator driver for the McLaren F1 team. As a lifelong motorsports gamer, he’s played nearly every racing game under the sun. From carbon-copies of the globe’s greatest tracks, to fictional locales available only in the virtual world, here are his top five favorite tracks from racing games.
“I started playing TOCA 2 around the year 2000, and that was my first experience with Knockhill. It’s a tight, technical and very up and down track. The elevation change is the main thing that stood out to me.
“There’s also one massive uphill blind chicane. Nowadays, touring cars go properly on two wheels there. That chicane is really the defining feature and the thing I remember most about the track. It was always one of the favorites, especially when I first started out in gaming before I got into real sim racing.”
Fern Bay Black
“When I started real sim racing, it was 2005 and I started in Live For Speed. Live For Speed had fictional tracks, so they could draw inspiration from real tracks, but they weren’t exact copies. Fern Bay Black was the longest of the Fern Bay circuits, it had high kerbs and tight, fast corners.
“You actually had to bounce over the kerbs to be fast. It had a little bit of a Nordschleife vibe, being tight and twisty and up and down. I wasn’t old enough to really know about the Nordschleife yet, but I just knew Fern Bay Black was one of my favorites.”
“In the world, there is no better track. It doesn’t matter what platform or even real life, it is my favorite. It is nearly 21km of pure joy. There are no perfect laps because even if you know a trick or have the experience to go faster, each lap is seven or eight minutes.
“Chasing the perfect lap around such a place is amazing, and doing endurance racing, when you’re going around at night and approaching the lap times you do in the daytime – it doesn’t get any better.
“I drove it for the first time in real life recently and I gained even more respect than I had for it after driving thousands of laps on the sim.”
“I think COTA is great because it has everything—fast, tight, blind—whatever type of corner you can name, it has it. Despite being a new track and having lots of asphalt runoff, when you drive it, you don’t really get that sensation. It’s a new school track, but it has an old school vibe. The asphalt just means you have places to go if you get it wrong.
“That’s another one I experienced in real life recently. That experience just reaffirmed that I was right about it being a cool place!
“Of course, you can’t talk about COTA without talking about turn 1, massive uphill with a blind apex on the left. Even if you see a picture, you immediately understand that it’s a special place.
“But, the entire first sector there is just amazing. It’s really all about timing, through the esses and then around the sweepers. Getting that flow right is very cool, but difficult as well.”
“I train drivers in the sim that race at Macau, and we’ve already started that process even though the race is still a few months away. Macau is only featured in Race 07, and while there are other games that have similar tracks, none of them really capture exactly what makes Macau unique like the official one.
“It’s really tight, but corners are incredibly fast. It’s all a sequence, so if you mess up one corner, you’ll pay the price two or three corners later. It’s a real driver’s track and it just makes it something special. No matter what car you’re doing it in, it’s a magical place.
“You need to be there or have been there before to be really on it. It’s so tight and the guardrails are high, you’re blind most of the time and, as we’ve seen before in the races there in real life, it’s very easy to get wrong. It’s like Monaco on steroids, and that makes it a very special place.”