The Real Deal | Previewing the Kyalami Assetto Corsa Mod
A few weeks ago, before I released the video about the P13c Prototype, I was talking to a member of the community who was confident that Assetto Corsa was finally finished, and that there was nothing of note on the horizon to look forward to. That was… incorrect. Not only is the mod community still producing content, but it’s some of the best content we’ve yet seen for Assetto Corsa. So then, stick around and I’ll show you a circuit mod that’s very much worth looking forward to.
Evidently it looks great, and it drives just as well. And to cut to the chase, this is one of those ‘slavish attention to detail’ meets ‘labour of love’ mods. But, importantly, it’s also built with accuracy in mind, making use of photogrammetry to produce the 3D model and track mesh. But on top of that, Dale spends much of the year living a few minutes away from the circuit, and has driven hundreds of laps of the place. And I can certainly think of less interesting ways to conduct research!
The commitment to accuracy has proven it’s worth in the run-up to this weekend’s 9 Hours of Kyalami, with several high profile teams making use of the mod in their simulators. This is quite uniquely valuable, as this weekend will be is the first time the majority of these teams will have competed at Kyalami, thanks to the long-awaited return of international endurance racing to the storied venue.
Endurance racing has been a fixture of the Kyalami program on and off since the early 60s, with sports car events following the 1000km, or more frequently the 9 hour format. From the mid 1970s to the late 80s, the World Sportscar Championship brought the heroes of Le Mans to Kyalami and with it names like Mass, Ickx, Bell, Bellof & Patrese. But, save for a brief reprieve under the ISRS banner in the late 90s, Kyalami hasn’t been an endurance racing mainstay since. Until now. With the 9 Hours of Kyalami name revived as part of SROs Intercontinental GT Series, the circuit is once again set to feature on the world endurance racing stage.
The original Kyalami Circuit was built on land immediately to the north of the current layout. With only 9 corners, the 4.1km circuit was fast and unforgiving. And, with F1 and Group C cars lapping at not much north of 60 seconds in the early 80s, it was a pretty short lap. Political issues and concerns over safety caused the international motorsport scene to turn it’s back on Kyalami in the mid 1980s, and by the end of the decade, the owners elected to rebuild the circuit on land to the south. The current layout, featured in the mod, makes use of the original fast section between Barbecue Bend and The Esses, but the rest is all new, and in places very technical.
Back to the mod itself, this should be available tomorrow, Thursday 21st November over on Race Department. It’s always difficult to convey through videos how a circuit feels to drive. But, I’ll do my best. The layout itself, while perhaps not as edge of your seat at the original layout, is certainly more challenging for the driver. It offers up an interesting combination of challenging technical stuff, particularly late apex blind corners and plenty of adverse camber. But there are also a good number of fast, seat of your pants corners as well to keep things interesting. When you combine all of that with some good old fashioned elevation changes thanks to the hillside location, it makes for a rewarding driving experience. And, in the case of GT cars, a pretty decent racing experience as well. As for the actual technicalities of the mod, I’ll keep it brief here, because Dale and I will be making a follow-up video in which we’re going to cover that stuff in much more detail. But, if you need the cliff notes – the road surface feels very believable and engaging, the curbs are probably the most responsive feeling I’ve had in AC, everything looks stunning and of course, all of the functionality works as you would expect. I’m worried that this quick run down could be mistaken for damning with faint praise, but you’re going to have to believe me when I say that this mod is the real deal.
Kyalami is a circuit that has always fascinated me. 1992, my first full season watching F1 kicked off in Kyalami, and I pretty much wore through the VHS copy of the race I made as a kid. Later on in life, when I discovered endurance racing, the Duke Video World Sports Car Championship review videos would often end with an end of season non-championship round at Kyalami. It was a race that always stood out, thanks in part to the beautiful location, the rather out of date facilities for the time and the juxtaposition of Group C cars and the rest of the field made up of local touring car teams. The image of a Porsche 962 and a Golf GTI sharing the same bit of tarmac is tough to shake!
If you’re interested in downloading the Kyalami mod for Assetto Corsa then it will be available tomorrow, Thursday 21st November over on Race Department, just in time for you to get some laps in before the real 9 Hours of Kyalami. I’ll be following up this video next week with an interview with Dale where we’ll be discussing the process behind creating this Assetto Corsa circuit mod and hopefully getting a bit more of detail about how the teams have been integrating it into their testing workflow.