Earlier this year we saw the long-awaited announcement that wet weather conditions will be coming to GT Sport. Initially showcasing the tech on the Red Bull Ring, we took a few laps in the time trial mode to see how the cars handle. Later it turned out the cars would handle completely differently and far more authentically in the Sports ‘Weekly Race’ mode.
Forward on a few months, and wet weather had gradually rolled out to more circuits. This week it was time for the Tokyo circuits to get the wet treatment. To mark the occasion, weekly races were added in the form of the Tokyo East Outer Loop, Weekly Race C. As it is a circuit we enjoy, exploring it in the rain was a different and more stressful adventure altogether.
Being ‘A’ ranked, we required a solid qualifying time along with plenty of laps – sadly we just had just a handful of practice laps under our belts. There is always a tension before a race, a nervousness that creeps in, a fear of the unknown which gets the adrenaline going. This is followed by the calm before the start.
Storming down into turn 1, we brake earlier than usual and almost everyone fails to slow down. The fuel weight affects the cars far more into turn 1 than anyone had expected: the car is sloppy and struggles to put the power down. For safety, we opt to take the first two corners with the traction control (TCS) set to 1, only to switch it off completely thereafter.
Remember, without TCS you are vulnerable to losing control if another car knocks into you. The middle sector requires sensible driving, early braking, progressive throttle, and use generally good racecraft to know when to hold your ground and when to let a car pass you. As you can see in our race, a collision in turn 2 cost us 8 positions – this results in more spray, less visibility, and dirty air. However, working our way up, the next challenge was facing tyre degradation and fuel weight changes.
As we settle into the race, it was hard to ascertain the effect of tyre wear, combined with the low grip conditions. On the one hand, the tyres were wearing, on the other, the car was lighter making it more responsive to inputs. At this point the racer in us likes to push: let’s see how fast we can go. We opt for later braking, more aggressive lines through corners, and above all, altering gearing for corners.
Altering gears changes the power and torque application which can help find a lot more speed, however, as you’ll see on lap 5, the line between pushing and losing control is very slim. Note that in the final corner we use TCS 2, this helps with getting out of the corner more consistently, though we remember to wind it down to zero on the straight before returning to TCS 1 for turn 1. This isn’t a hard and fast rule, and to race against the top A+ racers you’ll need to have TCS off to keep up. But if like us, you don’t have that raw speed, consistency and racecraft become crucial.
You can view the full race and post-race analysis in the video below.
We’re both surprised and impressed with the progress made with this update on GT Sport. The tyre model continues to evolve and combines with technology which pushes the PlayStation 4 console like never before exciting us for the future. On PlayStation 5 (besides an improved tyre model and mind-blowing graphics) we can look forward to dynamic weather and conditions on a level and polish we haven’t seen before.
GT Sport has been refined to such a high level that these steps – though not revolutionary – are important for stability in the overall product. Polyphony is showing its strength by focusing on one aspect at a time, refining it, removing bugs, then adding the next module. As ever, their vision is only restricted by the hardware is it running on, a vision that has always been there, and one we look forward to exploring in the future.