Wednesday, July 23, 2008

TORCS Championships 2008 - Brondehach

The TRB Championships saw another interesting race this weekend.

The track is known for its tricky, off-camber turns and short straights. I've decided to split the team and used a high-downforce setup for car #1 and a high-speed one for car #2. Looking back at results, the first choice proved to be more effective.

The qualification yielded "nothing new" - my cars were in the middle, USR/wdbee/Simplix teams at top. USR showed off a lightning-fast 1:07.02, so a quick maths gave me a race result of finishing 5 laps behind...

Green lights! And they're off for 128 laps... Kilo 1 drives nice at position 10 while Kilo 2 was blocked at the start by a JDI Porsche parking across the start lane... It took about half a lap time to get clear of that :( Anyway for the first 30-40 laps the Kilos were in the middle of the field, driving quite smooth and nice. I noticed however my robots were more elegant than others when letting one overlap them, and it caused quite some time loss. Then something went simply wrong - every overlapping put my robots back a long way, they even lost positions that way. Overlapping cars (especially the USR team) caused damage, opponents smashed into them, then they drove a bit glued together in 4th gear not overlapping/waiting to be overlapped (something wrong with team tactics decision code). Then around lap 90 Kilo 1 drove straight into the pit wall and spent 3 minutes there recovering :( That pretty much ruined all the race for him, until then it would have been capable of finishing #10, afterwards I was happy to see them finish 13th-14th.

Well as it is a fun game, I don't want to use words like 'catastrophe' but - it was one :( Nevertheless if I look at the race from an outside view, it was a nice, crowded race with a lot happening all around.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

TORCS Championships 2008 - Adelaide

It was the second race on this year's schedule of the TORCS Championships, held on a track very very similar to the late Adelaide street circuit.

There were 18 robots starting, installation went without any trouble. The qualifiers went OK again, my robots came mid-field, at position 9 and 12, separated only by some 6 hundreths. Then the race...

As it could be expected, the first corners were frantic and there was a huge crash involving 6-7 cars, only the first half of the cars survived it. So that and the following pit visits mixed up the order quite a bit, causing early overlappings and big fun to watch. My robots were set up using a low-downforce, highspeed setup, which made them suffer very much in the 90-degree corners, but they gained back quite a bit of time each lap on the straigth sections. In fact, they were quite hard to overtake, being speedy (3rd-4th in top speed competition). If one missed his chance in the corners, my robots were out of reach for him on the other parts of the track.
"As usual", the USR, wdbee and Simplix robots were fighting for top positions, closely followed by the Dummy team. Team Kiwi was fast again, but one of its robots did not stop to pit with no fuel left, so that meant the end for him, while his own teammate smashed into the small queue that formed behind his mate just slowing down.
My robots had a nice clash with the Inferno team and gained a shared 11th and a 13th position in the end. It could have been better even, if my better robot, Kilo 2 hadn't spin about 10 laps to go, as it was closing in on Inferno-C quite fast and could have overtaken him - but well, this is racing :)
Team JDI had improved quite a bit, better watch out for those blue-green Porsches next time. Too bad Berniw didn't have time to imrpove the robot code obviously, so his robots weren't competetive this time.

So it was an eventful race, and clearly showed the areas where I should improve the robot behaviour: smarter overtaking, faster recovery, working together as a team.