Do you wonder who is the guy behind the wheel of the car next to you? What drives the virtual racers? And what makes simracing so special for all of us? In our new series Spotlight, we want to present a few members of our community and tell the stories that push them forward in simracing. No matter if it’s a guy who is organizing leagues and events, one of our top-level competitors in the eSports championships or just a casual gamer who has an interesting story to tell. We start off with an interview with Nikodem Wisniewski. The 23-year-old Polish simracer drives in the eSports WTCC championship for the FEEDER Ragnar Simulator team, and is currently in 6th position in the multiplayer standings and first in the leaderboard standings.
RaceRoom: How did you get into simracing?
Nikodem: I started to play some racing games when I was in school. Then I saw a championship, on rFactor 1, back in 2010, with a Formula one mod. I joined, but I was driving with a keyboard, so it was pointless. Then I bought my first wheel, it was a Logitech Formula Force EX. That red one, everything made out of plastic, but yeah, it was quite nice. So for a few months I drove in some Polish leagues and then I upgraded to a DFGT.
Wisniewski's onboard lap around Portimao before Round 4 of #eSports FIA WTCC RaceRoom Championship in our sim center – Ragnar Simulator. 🇵🇱 Okrążenie Wiśniewskiego na torze Portimao przed czwartą rundą Mistrzostw E-Sports WTCC RaceRoom w naszym sim center – Ragnar Simulator
Posted by FEEDER Ragnar Simulator on Sunday, 18 June 2017
RaceRoom: Were you interested in motorsports before, or rather a gamer in general?
Nikodem: I was interested in Formula One. Because of Robert Kubica, Motorsports was getting popular in Poland, so I wanted to become a real race driver too. But it was impossible, especially in Poland, where we just have one track that is not even FIA-homologated. So we don’t have proper racing here. I just decided to try simracing and try to get some challenges.
RaceRoom: You have been around on a few different games and sims, but now you found your way to RaceRoom and the eSports WTCC. What makes it special?
Nikodem: Every official series is very good. When we have the official eSports series, it will help simracing to grow, that’s quite nice. And I also wanted to try something new. I drove some competitions on RaceRoom in the past, some years ago, and I came pretty close to winning in the ROLLER competition, but I never had enough pace to be first. And now that I am back, I think the physics are really nice. The tyrewear and the feeling for the grip are a bit different to what I am used to, but it’s a good step.
RaceRoom: Now, let’s talk about the current season. Some podiums, but not a victory yet. And some interesting rivalries. Tell me more.
Nikodem: This season I learned much about the front-wheel drive cars. Most other leagues are with rear-wheel drive cars, so it was a new challenge for me. About the championship, I had a technical issue on the Nordschleife, without it I think I could be even higher up in the standings. In Monza I still had some issues, I was pushed a bit and then I also made a mistake, but in general, it has been getting better, round by round, so for Spa-Francorchamps I hope that I can get a double podium.
RaceRoom: There have been some ties between simracing and the real racing world like with the WTCC, but also the rise of eSports in Gaming. What do you think is the direction simracing will take, and where could it take you?
Nikodem: The simracing is very close to the real racing, and I think this will never change. If you are good on Counter-Strike, you are good on Counter-Strike and that’s it. You can’t go to the war and be a good sniper because of the game. But if you are a good simracer, for 95% you will be a good racer in the real world. But nevertheless, I think the direction of eSports is good to make simracing big, like other games. Because I really don’t know why it isn’t more popular, I think simracing is really entertaining. With the big events, it will have much more effect and help it get bigger. Like Vegas eRace, but you need to do these events properly. If everything gets bigger and more professional, we could also do the simracing as a profession. Now I do it for fun in my free time, but it would be amazing to be a professional simracer and then I don’t need to go to work every day.
RaceRoom: You have been qualified for every single race, and I am sure a lot of drivers in Division 2 and 3 are interested in some advice. Can you tell us?
Nikodem: If you want to become better in simracing, you don’t want to overdrive the cars. Of course, if you have time to practice, you should use it, but when you get the feeling that you have enough and you can’t improve anymore, it’s really enough. Just do something else, come back another day and after two or three laps you will be better. It’s not always your day. It will just make you frustrated. And about the competition, try to learn from the other drivers. You can learn a thing from everyone. So I just watch the ghosts, maybe not of everyone but of a few drivers, and try to improve my style. For example, on Portimao I was really struggling and I was 1 second off the pace. And then I watched the ghosts of Bence Bánki, Alexander Dornieden and Thomas Petitjean, looked at the good aspects and improved my own lap. And also, you need to do good setups. The technical understanding, it’s like 50% of the success for me.