From the Real to the Virtual Radical and Back Again!

Juan Moncada is in the lead by 11 Points in the Americas Am Championship. With three victories out of six races, and five Pole Positions in class, he has all the right to aim for P1 in the end. We took the chance to talk to him.

Sandro: After a tough first race, we saw you take victory in Interlagos and Watkins Glen. Now you are on top of the Standings. Happy with the season so far?

Juan: Thank you! I had a rough start on the first race of the championship due to a mistake when I jumped the start and received a 30-second penalty. I felt like I had to make up for it in Brazil so I am very happy everything came together and I won the AMS race. It was tough to stay ahead of the pro drivers, but I learned a lot from it. It’s a great learning experience when you have fast drivers pushing you. 

Sandro: Like we heard on broadcast, you have a full competition SCCA licence? What is that?

Juan: The SCCA is The Sports Car Club of America which is an automobile club and sanctioning body supporting road racing, rallying, and autocross in the United States. There are different license classes starting from novice to full competition license. You’ll be able to race in different events and championships based on your license class.

Sandro: So you got some real life racing experience?

Juan: I currently practice at Atlanta Motorsports park driving a Radical SR1 in real life. I completed the requirements for an SCCA full competition license and am currently working on doing at least one official race this year before the season ends. They do an aero multi-class race which includes SR1, SR8, and SR10 plus pretty much any other car with aero. I started driving the Radical about a year ago but have only had funds to go out on track 3 times since then, so I am still learning.

Just a nice move to get back position.

Sandro: Is there some sponsoring in the background?

Juan: I use my own money. I started Karting at 11 and then went to Skip Barber racing school with the hopes to compete in their Championship. I was very young and ran out of money, so now I do it as a hobby. I grew up with a single mom and two brothers, so money was tight, and never really got a chance to race. Now that I have a career in the tech field, I’m able to spend some extra money to race at least a few times a year. 

Sandro: Do you get some other kind of support to get on track?

Juan: There is a Radical racing school at Atlanta Motorsports Park (Primal Racing) that has helped me a lot with coaching and pushing me to compete in the series. I’ve had competitive lap times during practice sessions and have matched the race lap times that full-season drivers run at this track. Sim racing is new to me, so I am better in real life right now than I am in iRacing, but working to get better.

single file restart practice.

Sandro: Is there a connection between your efforts on the real track and getting on the virtual one?

Juan: I decided to try sim racing after I had a chance to drive a Radical SR1 at a local track. The instructors there and another driver mentioned they spend a good amount of time sim racing and shared how it helped them learn tracks and cars before going out to a real track. I decided to try it and went straight to iRacing since I had heard about it for years, and it has the best reputation out of other racing sims I read about. I use a Fanatec Podium DD1 and use the high torque setting, which helps a bit with training and keeping my arms used to the steering loads for when I am out in a real car and track.

Sandro: Does that mean really strong ffb correlates to what you experience in the real car?

Juan: It does up to some degree. It’s still different from real life, but it’s good practice for the arms and reaction time, in my opinion. It’s the best way to simulate the steering feeling at home. I work out often and focus on my arms and neck, but it’s not the same as using high torque and driving in the simulator where your brain is having to react fast and coordinate your arm movement.

Sandro: With the SR10 we see a lot of talk about tire-temperatures and the need to take care of them. Is that topic of similar relevance when you get on track in real life?

Juan: With the Radical it is always a topic. It takes a few laps to warm up these cars. The part where I feel it the most is the understeer. There are corners that the car is capable of taking flat out, but you end lifting the first two or three laps before you can go flat out. Tire wear is pretty heavy and you can really feel the change in behaviour based on track temperature. The last time I was out driving, I did 2 full days of practice and the only time I had a spin was on the hottest day right when I was wrapping up the last day in the afternoon. Tires were worn from the morning session and the heat on the track made it very hard to predict the car behaviour. You have to be mindful of the temperatures and understand when it is the right time to take the car to the limit.

Also, the whole thing about this car not being kerb friendly is 100% true.

Mission accomplished. The real world replicates iRacing’s physics perfectly 😉

Sandro: So we should regard the behaviour of the SR10 and it’s tires as part of the challenge? Or is it a different behaviour you witness in real life?

Juan: I say its part of the challenge but I’m also basing this on my experience driving an SR1 with threaded tires, not slicks. The SR10 may be similar but can’t say for sure. The behaviour on cold tires in iRacing is a bit tougher than real life in my experience, but its close and it is something you have to deal with when driving a Radical SR1. It generates good downforce but you still need to make sure you understand the tires. All in all I can tell you 100% that the Radical is the best car I’ve ever driven and the one I’ve had the most fun in.

Sandro: Beside our Championship, where else can we meet you on the virtual and real track?

Juan: At the moment I only have time for our league and maybe one or two official races per week. My wife and I have a 1yr old at home so there is not a lot of free time. As far as the real track, I plan to at least do one official radical race in Atlanta in the coming months but it will depend on the time I have.

Sandro: With three races left in the Championship, we see a close fight between Richard, Diego and you for P1. What’s your guess for the Top 3 in the end?

Juan: It is a close fight, and I’m enjoying it. Diego and Richard have excellent race pace, so I often have to use everything I’ve learned in the past six months in iRacing to keep them at bay, but it doesn’t work every race! It is unpredictable who will win the championship at this point, but I expect Richard and Diego to be in the top three. Kevin has also had some strong races, so he may be a contender. 

Sandro: Thanks for your time – and all the best for the rest of the season!


Located: Atlanta, GA, USA (Born in Colombia, but have lived in the US for over 20 years and it’s my home now)
Wheel: Fanatec Podium DD1
Pedals: ClubSport Pedals V3
FOV: Curved 49″ Odyssey G9 Gaming Monitor

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