Endurance races are some of the most fun and challenging events you can partake in. Races often take 3-24 hours to complete, sometimes even longer. There are some great sims out there that can offer this type of mentally and physically demanding challenge with some impressive attention to detail.
The 5 best sims for endurance racing are:
Assetto Corsa Competizione offers the most realistic, intense, and enjoyable endurance racing experience. Its beautiful day/night cycle and impressive attention to detail make it our best pick for sim racing. Read on to see our alternative picks and some more information on endurance racing.
What Is Endurance Sim Racing?
Endurance sim racing is a simulated endurance race, giving the ultimate test of the driver’s mental focus and their team’s ability to stay cohesive in the face of intense adversity. It’s also about maintaining your physical health, holding many similarities to its real-life counterpart.
An endurance race is the ultimate test of a driver’s mental focus and their car’s ability to withstand hours of grueling punishment. Endurance races can last anywhere from only a couple of hours to a full 24 hours, sometimes even more. To complete an endurance race is an impressive feat and requires both an excellent team and a good strategy.
A driver may race for usually around 2 hours before letting their teammate take over, however it is common for a driver to keep going and double-stint if they see that they have a good pace and are doing better than the competition. Endurance sim racing isn’t far off from the real thing. Most of the work is in your head. Staying focused and staying consistent are crucial elements of sim racing.
Your Health Matters
Preserving your mental stamina is just as important as maintaining your vehicle. Unnecessary pit stops can harm on your team’s performance, so planning and preparation are especially important. Endurance sim racing is also unique in the fact you have to look after your health throughout the race. Remembering to hydrate regularly is important for your mind to stay focused.
Dehydration is not uncommon and can lead to a crash, prematurely ending the race for you and your team. Communicating with your team that you are feeling unwell or that you need to go to the bathroom is key for both drivers to give the best performance they possibly can.
It’s Not That Different To The Real Thing
There isn’t that much separating the experience of endurance sim racing from the real deal. You still need to communicate with your team, asking them how your pace is looking or figuring out whether your other driver is ready.
The physical act of driving is the easy part, as 90% of the effort exerted will be mental. Of course, if you crash in an endurance sim race it’s an unlucky and awful thing to happen. However, as opposed to a real endurance race, you are not at risk of injury from crashing the car. I would consider the absent possibility of serious injury a huge advantage to endurance sim racing!
The 5 Best Sims For Endurance Racing
1. Assetto Corsa Competizione
Assetto Corsa Competizione (ACC) was released in May of 2019 and was immediately greeted with universal praise for its astounding graphics and authentic game mechanics. Competizione is primarily focused on endurance racing and offers a varied collection of game modes including a career, championship, and free play mode.
There are also very in-depth tutorials and progressive aid levels for those who aren’t familiar with either endurance racing or Assetto Corsa. The ranked matchmaking system ensures that you are placed in fair matches with opponents of a similar skill level. The sim now features a Blancpain GT series sprint cup event consisting of two races, both 1 hour in length.
More importantly, its Blancpain GT series endurance cup races and seasonal event consist of 24 hours of Spa, ranging from 3-hour long races to 24-hour races, respectively. These endurance races are the ultimate test of mental stamina and strategy.
Assetto Corsa Competizione features a dynamic weather system. Weather and track conditions are highly varied and can range from clear to a full-on storm with a pitch-black sky and overcast with stormy rain. The start of your race may be relatively easy in clear weather conditions that allow slick tires to do their job and let you focus on consistency and lap times.
The dynamic weather system and how it behaves is completely customizable down to little details like precipitation, average ambient temperature, and percent chance of variability. You can also adjust the level of standing water, wetness, and grip level under the options for starting track conditions.
This dynamic weather system is worth playing around with in free play as it will be very important that you understand how to respond to changes in weather through the course of a 3-hour endurance race.
Cost To Race
There is no additional cost to joining a seasonal endurance event or any endurance race within the sim. Once you have purchased the sim itself, you are free to enjoy all the content it offers, minus the great paid DLC, which I do recommend checking out.
There are also no additional recurring costs. Some external third-party races set up by separate organizers may require that you pay an entrance fee or a separate fee to qualify. However, all of the in-game events and endurance races are free for you to enter whenever you feel like it.
- No additional static or recurring costs to race
- Authentic gameplay focused on endurance racing
- In-depth tutorials make it a beginner-friendly option
- Driver swaps are only possible on PC
- Framerates and performance can be inconsistent
iRacing is like the older and more serious big brother to Assetto Corsa Competizione. iRacing is one of the most realistic racing sims to ever be released. It aims to perfectly simulate not just your experience in the car but the journey and career of an actual race car driver. To partake in events, iRacing demands a particular list of prerequisites.
Firstly, what you’ll need to start your iRacing career is a membership that equates to $13 per month. This is enough to enter all-rookie series races in multiple classes and get an idea of what iRacing can offer. To enter higher class races, you’ll need to purchase a license. You will also need to purchase the specific track that you wish to race on as well as your vehicle.
With each new license that you purchase, you gain access to new vehicle classes and new series races that may require you to purchase new tracks and new class-appropriate vehicles. If you wish to own all of the available content that iRacing has to offer, including subscriptions, tracks, and vehicles, the total cost can be in the range of $1,000 to $1,500.
What Kind Of Experience Can iRacing Offer?
iRacing is impressively realistic and so faithful to the real thing down to the most minute of details that professional drivers use iRacing to practice their skills when off the track. Real motorsports events during the pandemic were being replaced by iRacing with huge success.
Simply put, iRacing meets the professional standard needed by real race car drivers and motorsports organizations, which is why if you are serious about sim racing then you should absolutely consider iRacing.
As for endurance racing, it can be particularly intense. Your actions within the game have very real consequences and it’s not for the faint of heart or the beginner sim racer.
It’s very similar to the real deal so you need to know what you’re doing and know the common terminology. If you want a real challenge against some players of legitimate professional skill then iRacing is the sim racer you have been waiting for.
- Most professionally recognized sim racer
- Difficult but rewarding events
- Incredibly realistic
- Recurring payments necessary
- Most content is locked behind a paywall
- Not beginner-friendly
3. Project Cars 2
Project Cars 2, while being the predecessor to the new Project Cars 3, still maintains a higher player count than Project Cars 3. Its accurate simulation and selection of tracks and vehicles have always reeled me back in. While certainly being a little more arcade-like than ACC or iRacing, after some adjustments to the wheel and some fine-tuning of the car, the game has exceeded my expectations.
Project Cars 2 features a detail-orientated career mode that lets you start your racing journey from rookie kart tournaments and lets you build your racing career from there. Of course, it does allow you to start your career in any racing class you wish.
If you instead want to jump right into the action, the online mode features fully-fledged championships and a custom server browser. Finding people to race with is still relatively quick and pain-free, although its sequel is taking the main focus from the developers.
Project Cars 2 has probably the most content you could get from one sim racer for the price. You will not be running out of content anytime soon.
The dynamic weather system in Project Cars 2 works especially great with its endurance races. The storms and snow blizzards are violent and challenging to drive through. You hear your team inform you of the coming weather and you prepare yourself for the change in handling.
Puddles and stormy weather can violently send you spinning off track if you don’t have the right tires or aren’t taking your corners cautiously. It puts a lot of focus on pit stop strategy and engine tuning. The car tuning can be fairly advanced if you go deep into the menus.
Beginners can breathe a sigh of relief, however, as there is a simplified tuning menu where you can tell your engineer what you feel is wrong with the car and they will automatically apply a change to alleviate the issue. It seems quite vague at first, but it does a pretty good job of tuning the car for you.
The endurance racing itself is nowhere near as realistic as ACC or especially iRacing. However, it’s realistic enough to have fun with. You still feel like you truly accomplished something at the end of a long endurance race.
One particular gripe I have with the endurance races is the inability to driver swap with an online teammate. The game only allows you to driver swap with an AI teammate, which is such a shame as I feel like this one negative in particular lets the whole experience down.
If you aren’t too disappointed with the fact that you can’t team up with a buddy then Project cars 2 offers a pretty solid and enjoyable endurance racing experience, just a bit more focused on fun rather than complete realism.
- Huge variety of events, cars, and tracks
- Excellent and detailed career mode
- One of the more beginner-friendly sims on the list
- Not as realistic as the other sims on this list
- No ability to driver swap with an online teammate
4. rFactor 2
rFactor 2 is widely praised for having one of the most impressive physics systems in any sim racer, and rightly so. In March of 2013, rFactor 2 was released to the public and quickly became one of the most beloved sim racers at the time. The dated graphics may not be as pretty as say Assetto Corsa’s graphics, but they hold their own against titles such as iRacing or even Project Cars.
rFactor 2 features a dynamic weather system similar to the one found in Project Cars 2. Pit stops and correct adjustments to your care are made doubly important as a result. The physics engine in this sim is one of the best. The feeling of momentum and tire grip is perfectly illustrated in the handling of the vehicle.
There are only 3 game modes available, including single player, multiplayer, and competitions. Single player allows you to create custom games or hop into free play and use any vehicle on any of the available tracks. Multiplayer is fun and offers an immersive experience. Sadly, one large issue I found was that the game lacks any sort of skill rating or skill-based matchmaking.
This means that open lobbies can sometimes be chaotic. Competitions offer a good selection of events to choose from. However, the issue of no skill ratings remains.
The endurance races are very realistic, even more so than Project Cars 2. Races can be intense and require patience and strategy. The use of flags is on par with the real deal, and driver swaps are possible and easy to coordinate.
- Realistic endurance races
- Dynamic weather system
- Some of the best physics in a sim racer
- No skill rating in-game
- Graphics are a bit dated
5. Automobilista 2
Automobilista 2 was released in March of 2020 and is said to have the best graphics in VR mode of any other sim. This is by far one of the most graphically stunning and realistic racing sims on the market today. Automobilista 2 also has the most advanced dynamic weather and track conditions system of any sim to date.
A weather and track conditions system as detailed as this is perfect for endurance races due to their long run times. It allows you to fine-tune the barometric pressure, wind speeds, and temperatures, as well as the weather cycles.
Automobilista 2 features an in-depth and realistic career mode, a custom championship tool so you can organize your events, a well-balanced and fair multiplayer with a ranking system that allows you to see other racers’ overall reputations, and an official events playlist where you can join official E-sports events offering prizes.
Automobilista 2 will offer a great endurance racing experience for most people. The weather and track conditions system are really what carry this game. Multiclass endurance races combined with the beautiful graphics and day-night cycle are especially enjoyable, particularly when it forces you to change your strategy.
Sadly, the game doesn’t yet feature a driver swap function, but many people are asking for it online so it wouldn’t be a surprise if Reiza Studios implemented this in the future.
- Can create custom championships
- Most advanced weather and track conditions system on our list
- Impressive graphics
- Doesn’t yet have a driver swap feature
Assetto Corsa Competizione is our top pick as the best sim for endurance racing. It offers a decent amount of content available right out the gate, and the realistic endurance racing, tracks, car tuning, and impressive dynamic weather conditions make this the best of the bunch.