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Krzysztof Holowczyc at round 11 of the FIA World Rallycross Championship in Turkey

Interview with Krzysztof Holowczyc on virtual rallying and racing

Oct 102016

Krzysztof Hołowczyc was our special guest at Good Game Expo in Warsaw two weeks ago. The Polish rally legend took part in a gaming contest where he was challenged in the final by other gamers in one of the racing video games. After the event we caught up with Hołek to talk a bit about his experience and opinion on virtual racing and rallying.

rallying in the real world and in video games completes each other

Do you play rally or racing video games often on your console?

I do because each time I can’t practice in my rally car it gives me some extra adrenaline. Correlation between accelerating, braking and steering – all those things, which are still a bit different in video games than in real life, make you keep in shape, somehow. I’ve noticed that rallying in the real world and video games completes each other. For example, when I finish my another rally practice I like to sit down at home and keep rallying on PS4. And same the other way round – when I ride frequently on my PS4 I always feel more fresh when I come back to a real rally car, my hands don’t feel like they were made of wood, you know.

Favourite games?

As for racing I really like Grand Turismo, everything from track racing is so well reflected in this game. However, recently I’ve been mostly playing Dirt Rally, the latest title from the famous rally series started by Colin McRae Rally games. Some people will always that Richard Burns Rally is the only right rally game but I think the difficulty level there is a bit exaggerated. In end of the day you’ll never be able to feel like in a real car rallying a on console steering wheel, not to mention pads or keyboards, so there must some space left for fun, not just a constant fight against your WRC car. I think that Dirt Rally is very well balanced when it comes to this aspect of playing.

Any cars you particularly like in the games you play?

Same as in real life – the more power, the better! I really like the rallycross mode in Dirt Rally and 600 bhp Supercars. I think they can give you most fun and equally when it comes to the real and virtual ones, steering them by using the acceleration is unbelievable. You wanna do some Gymkhana stuff with them – no problem at all! And in contrast to the real cars, those in the game can be driven all day long while in reality their engines would boil if they were working on max revs longer than a couple of minutes… Other than that – definitely the cult WRC Subaru 555, the car in which I achieved some of the greatest successes in my career. It’s always nice to return to that car, even on PS4.

If I told you my nickname, everyone would be trying to beat Hołek in the multiplayer

Do you play in multiplayer or do you prefer racing at home against your friends?

I go online from time to time and play in multiplayer…

…What’s your nickname then?

No way, if I told you, everyone would be trying to beat Hołek in the multiplayer now! I like racing online but I don’t play that much because where I live the internet connection is a bit rubbish and I really hate when the game is lagging. Especially when your race is another matter of life and death, like always when playing against other guys online!

You have lots of assistance features on or do you prefer playing on the maximum level of difficulty?

I like it when it’s hard but I don’t switch everything off – I usually keep a little ABS and traction control on as it helps a bit, especially with those more powerful cars.

I’ve already learned that sometimes you need to be a calculating player, not a professional rally driver playing a game

How much do you find your skills from the real world, from your rallying career, useful in video games?

They are definitely useful, because as you could see, when I was competing against other guys at Good Game Expo in the Assetto Corsa game, which I had not played before, I was doing quite fine. I wasn’t slow, I didn’t go off the track too often and actually with every practice lap I was getting better and better. That’s because subconsciously I could use lots of my driving skill when playing that game. But still, I was behind some of the professional gamers. Those guys know perfectly how to operate an acceleration pedal of a gaming set, where on a given track you need to push and where to break… There were moments when in real I would definitely accelerate harder but in the game it wasn’t really working out. The perfect racing line in a game is not always the same as in reality so you simply have to learn how to be a gamer. And it’s definitely not easy, so respect to the professional players!

There’s no margin for mistakes in video games when you want to beat track records then?

In a real rally car you can improvise, there are no perfect lines on power stages but in a game there’s always some ideal line you need to drive to beat a record. I’ve already learned that sometimes you just need to be a calculating player, not a professional rally driver playing a game.

So not everything you’d do in your real rally or sports car has to pay off in a game?

Exactly but on the other I must admit the games are better and better and some of them are already very realistic. I still wait for racing simulators, though, which will make you feel the weight of your car. There are such professional simulators owned by some of the racing teams and I think that’s the direction home entertainment will be going to. When players will be feeling all those forces working on a car in a move and they’ll be feeling it not only by hands put on a force feedback steering wheel but also by their ass sat on a professional racing seat, then I think will be really close to reaching the maximum realism in virtual rallying and racing.