Let's take a closer look at iRacing's Safety Rating system, including myths like 'rookie hell', and finally give you some helpful tips to help you keep your license!
iRacing tracks a numeric value for each of its players that is a representation of how safe (and consistent) they are on the track. In an official time trial, qualifying or race session the system will keep track of your performance. Depending on how well you did, you will either gain or lose Safety Rating.
How well you are doing in the session is being tracked by the amount of Incident Points you have accumulated. Generally speaking you can accumulate up to 17 before being shown the black flag and essentially removed from the session. Which will have a negative effect on your Safety Rating. Let's take a closer look at the different Incident Points and how they are handed out.
These incident points can transform. For example you go offtrack which provides you with a
1x and then on that slippery grass you go sideways which means you Lost control which updates it to a
Now if you make light contact with another car you might receive a
0x if you are lucky. Now if that car ends up making heavy contact or spinning out, you will also receive those incident points. Regardless if the following event is your fault or not. It's a way for iRacing to hold drivers accountable after contact. So if you push somebody, ever so slightly, and they end up spinning. You also receive indident points as the chances of you being involved or at fault are rather high. This is by no means perfect as you can have an innocent touch of wheels during close racing, yet if somebody else ploughs into that car while you are linked to each other by the
0x, you would receive a
4x. Not perfect or always fair, but overall it works. Which brings us to the next portion, the myth of rookie hell.
For those of you who have been 'stuck' in the Rookies series, don't click away just yet. Yes, rookies can be tough, but there should not be a need to start over by creating a new account. Also, since iRacing forces you to use your real name, you might end up with the number 2 behind your name (like johndoe2) - not ideal.
So yes, you are having a hard time in the rookies series because the splits you are in seem to just be like a scene from the game wreckfest. This is not ideal, but not something you can't get around.
The first thing to take into consideration is that getting out of rookies is not at all based on speed. Let me repeat, as it's important. There is no requirement to be fast to make it out of rookies, the only requirement is that you are safe. If you want to be extra safe, you can even start from the pit (by not pressing the big green GRID button). This way you can lap safely behind the pack. Now do keep in mind that getting experience going wheel to wheel with your fellow sim racers will prove to be invaluable. So generally this strategy is not recommended unless you truly struggle to have any sort of clean finishes (again, finishing last does not matter. So if you are still getting into incidents as you try to navigate around cars, you should instead lift off and just finish the race).
The safety rating is calculated based on the amount of corners you have navigated without accumalting any incident points. Therefore 1x offtracks can really hurt your safety rating. If you are finding yourself picking these up during the race, it's important to do some practice runs so that you can stay within the lines that iRacing has determined. These can be different from real life racing (for example Spa is notorious for picking up incident points). So just make sure you get clean laps in and no incident points.
So you finish the race in first and slam the brakes, press escape, right? Wrong. You keep driving as the race isn't over yet. You may have finished the race, but that doesn't mean that iRacing stopped counting. Therefore your should make it a habit of safely continuining the lap after you finish and making this your in lap (just like most classes do in real life). It's a great way to wind down and pick up some easy 'incident free corners'. These count just as much as the ones before the chequered flag, so take advantage of them! This also works during qualifying, so be sure to run an in lap after your scond hot lap to help improve your safety rating.