TORA, Forza and Britcar 24 Hours

I wrote about TORA last year and at the time they said they wanted to expand their reach and had plans for big things. As I sit here at the back of the Rogue Motorsport garage at the Britcar 24 hour event I’m happy to say they succeeded!

There is the roar of cars on the track behind me and cars thundering around tracks on front of me too. Behind me they are real – shiny highly tuned chunks of alloy and carbon composite, and in front of me they are virtual – shiny highly tuned groups of polygons. There are four GT Omega race rigs with Fanatec CSR Elite wheels and pedals running Forza 4 and around the outside of the garage there are eight Xbox pods running the demo of Forza Horizons. I have to be honest… life doesn’t get much better than this.

Lots of Xboxes and Lots of Forza!

TORA have their own ‘staff’ setup and are running a parallel race to the Britcar 24 hours. They set up their Toyota MR2 to lap at about the same pace at the real one run by Rogue Motorsport and sat on its jacks in the garage. The TORA guys plan to follow and match the race from flag to flag, pit stops, spins and anything else in between.

Speaking with the TORA guys amid the bustle, they are both stunned and proud of what they’ve achieved with this event. Other teams keep dropping in to have a look and a go on the games and the official interest has been just as strong, too, with discussions taking place about genuine partnerships at bringing new cars and events together.

On a big screen next to the main TORA rig there are videos running showing the TORA championship races in progress, these aren’t your usual highlights clips with music over the top, these are professionally edited, commentated and presented and frankly very, very watchable!

As the day moves on the stream of people through the back of the Rogue Motorsports Garage gets heavier and heavier. At one point I counted over 50 people in there all racing or watching others racing, drooling over the Horizons playable demo or picking up TORA and GT Omega leaflets. Oh, there were a few who were looking towards the front of the garage where the real cars were – Rogue Motorsport were running a Forza 4 liveried MR2 and a Horizons liveried BMW 3 Series – but I’ve got to be honest, there was more buzz about the gaming than anything else.

A REAL racing car. Very cool livery, don’t you agree?

The folks from Microsoft seemed to be happy too and were more than impressed with what the TORA team had delivered!

Then there was a roar from the real cars as they fired up and thundered out of the garage and around for the grid line-up. I got to fulfill one ambition at that time and that’s to do a grid walk at a major race track, Silverstone. The Britcar 24, like most endurance races, allows more than one class of cars to race at the same time, so it was very interesting to see the range of cars on the grid. Everything from the mighty Mosler MT9000, through Ginetta, Porsches, Aston Martins, BMW’s and the Rouge MR2 down to a couple of Honda Jazz’s and a BMW 1 Series diesel! All race-prepped and all beautiful; especially the chrome vinyled no. 16 Aston Martin DB9!

Back in the garage I spent some time playing and re-playing the demo of Horizons and I’m happy to report that it felt pretty good! The control scheme was very familiar and it seems the very best of the track-based Forza has been poured into this open road series. I’ll admit that I was skeptical at first, the latest Need for Speeds have disappointed me generally and I did have a fear that my beloved Forza was going to stumble in the same way but it seems those fears may be unfounded. My pre-order is in so we’ll see what happens when I do get fully immersed!

The race outside started and the TORA boys started their Endurance run too. Silverstone has been altered a little (!) in recent times so the layout in Forza is different to what the Britcar guys were thrapping round but the lap-for-lap matching in terms of time seemed pretty good. 24 hours stretched away into the distance, 24 hours filled with corners, tyre changes, breakdowns, re-fueling and no small amount of sleep deprivation!

As I leave the team the sun is going down. The garage is full of people lapping up the ambiance and also the opportunity to race in Forza. The TORA boys are engaged in conversation and the level of interest is high. Well done, teams!







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