Race report: Donington Park, 11 May 2021

Copper Horse brings home its 2015 Lamborghini Huracan GT3 safely in one piece on a wet and wild evening at the Donington Park circuit. 

After our introduction to league sim racing last week in France at Circuit Paul Ricard, car number 59 – driven by Copper Horse’s David Rogers – was back on track for race 2 of AOR’s ACC league, season 7. Same car, same driver, but dramatically different driving conditions this time around as rain hammered down, threatening spins at every corner. 

Poor Networks and eSports 

Our initial qualification was marred by a network disconnection, forcing us to the back of the grid for the race. This is actually something that we’ve been highlighting as a strong use case and justification for high availability 5G network slices. A couple of weeks ago the BMW and Williams eSports driver Sami Matti-Trogen lost his internet connection during his driving stint of a 24 hour race at the Nürburgring, whilst in 2nd place. This incident dropped him down to 8th place. 

Luckily the BMW team fought back to 3rd place. We’ll see lots more of this in the future and it’s a timely reminder that resilience for future networks is critical – whether it be eSports or things that affect human safety. Another related requirement for esports is parity in upload and download speeds, i.e. similar download and upload bandwidths. This is something that future networks will bring – for 6G and beyond. We have been trying to stream our races and practice races so far but the load on the network (primarily due to poor upload speeds) has caused one drop-out mid-race during a practice. This means that for our next race we’ll have to stream the replay after the event rather than live during the actual race, rather than risk a disconnect – particularly during a 90 minute race. In the future we may try to do some ‘out-of-band’ streaming over 5G by using a 5G Wi-Fi module, so watch this space. 

The Race 

With so much water on track it was always going to be a challenge to stay between the white lines, especially coming out of the sweeping right, left sequence of Hollywood and Craner Curves, where cars pick up speed on the downhill before navigating a tight right-hander at the Old Hairpin.  

Side-by-side on a tight circuit

Other tricky turns included Coppice, which appears at the top of a climb and was starved of grip under the wet conditions. Touch one wheel on the grass and you’d soon be experiencing the motion of the sim rig as it replicates the loss of traction through a sliding mechanism under the driver’s seat. 

Rear view – the spray added to the difficulties faced by all the drivers in the wet

Realism is a big part of the Copper Horse simulator as it supports our goal of safely sharing the experience of what it’s like to drive a vehicle that is being hacked. The custom setup features a number of added automotive elements including a CAN bus – a vehicle network that we have been studying in detail together with our partners in the Secure-CAV consortium.  

CAN bus is popular not just in cars, but also in elevators and even coffee machines. And the hacking simulator provides a great tool for highlighting the security risks that developers should be aware of, as well as demonstrating the mitigations that can be applied to protect the network. 

On track, the biggest danger was cars facing the wrong direction. Battling not just the other drivers, but also the grisly weather, it was a good result to finish P29 after a grizzly first lap, turn 1 crash involving most of the field severely damaged the car. 

A double-slide in front of the Copper Horse car, narrowly avoided

Weighing up the competition  

Jahn Solo of Germany and Dave Bramhall of the UK appear strong contenders for the title with both taking podium spots at Paul Ricard and Donington. Fortunes can change fast, as fellow Tier 10 driver Justin Dawson of Canada demonstrates – improving from a P36 finish in race 1 to take the top spot a week later. 

Every driver faced a tough fight against the conditions and each other

Next up in the 8 race series is a 90 minute race tonight (18th of May 2021) at the Circuit de Barcelona Catalunya. This time the windscreen wipers can stay off as the weather will be dry and sunny – something that can be guaranteed in the sim world! 

Hopefully we’ll be able to stream live again in the next couple of weeks. We’ll advertise replay streams on the @copperhorseuk twitter account. 

About the author 

James Tyrrell is a Threat Modelling Analyst at Copper Horse.