Right, I’ll preface this with a disclaimer. Despite being a fully paid-up member of Gen Z, I’m far from the greatest gamer. I know, sorry to disappoint. I certainly played more than my fair share of Xbox growing up, but it turns out practice doesn’t always make perfect after all.
Anyway, I say that because I’ve just put an Aston Martin Valkyrie through a gravel trap on the Silverstone GP circuit. Not literally (thankfully, because a prototype Valkyrie is probably worth more than my life) but on the new, rad-looking AMR-C01 home simulator.
The fact I’ve never really taken all of this that seriously is also the reason why I’m trying to input ‘PANZER’ and ‘THUGSTOOLS’ on the wireless keyboard that should be docked down by my right knee. That’s one for all those who played Grand Theft Auto: Vice City on PC at far too young an age. Why aren’t there Wanted Levels on Assetto Corsa Competizione anyway?
Still, don’t let my complete incompetence distract from the wonderful bit of kit we’re here to have a go on. The C01 is built by a small company known as Curv Racing Simulators. Background; Curv was founded by Aston Martin works and test driver Darren Turner after Aston’s Chief Creative Officer Marek Reichman decided he’d like something for the company’s Design Studio. Turner had previous with sims having run the motorsport-focused Base Performance Simulators for the past 11 years, so he knocked up an ugly duckling prototype and delivered it to Gaydon.
The story goes that the prototype was so popular that it came back covered in designer’s clay, and so began a collaboration to build a luxury, high-end home simulator with Aston DNA that the two companies could sell to the public.
This is the result – a neatly proportioned, £69,000 (RM397k), carbon fibre-monocoqued sim with an Aston Martin nose and almost the exact seating position of a real-life Valkyrie. Nice. Up close the details are glorious – the carbon seat can be trimmed in leather or Alcantara (as can the brilliantly tactile but surprisingly simple paddleshift steering wheel), there are two fans behind a proper metal grille that cool the whole system and the pedal box is a custom unit with all of the internals – springs, actuator etc – under your feet. Buy an AMR-C01 and you can even spec your perfect pedal feel with different spring rates and a variety of different poly bushes. Said pedal box is all beautifully engineered and cloaked in a carbon fibre cover. Naturally.
As you may be aware, Curv only plans to build 150 C01s. So far, 10 have been delivered to their jammy buyers and three more are currently in the workshop, ready to head to Chile, Bahrain and the Netherlands. Turner reckons it’ll take two years to manufacture and deliver the full run given the high standard of finish, and he’s not ruling out a second-generation afterwards (although for obvious reasons, it won’t be called the C02).
Apparently, it should take just ten laps to get accustomed to a simulator, and having begun in a Vantage GT3 and swapped into a Valkyrie on road tyres (with all of the driver assist systems firmly turned on) I’m now lapping four seconds quicker than I was at the start of the session. Impressive stuff – although it helps having a triple Le Mans 24hrs class winner sat two metres over your shoulder. Coincidentally, if you buy a sim from Curv and are as poor a gamer as I, there’s the option of having a specialist dispatched to your home to offer coaching sessions.
Once you’re up to speed, there’s something Turner describes as ‘Tuesday Night, Race Night’. Forget competitive esports for a moment – this is essentially a WhatsApp chat that involves everyone from Indy 500 winners to club racers and folks who’ve just bought an Aston Martin simulator for their games room. The circuit is released at 5:45pm (or a couple of days earlier if you’re part of the over 60s ‘Legends’ group and need a bit longer to practice), then there’s a full practice session, qualifying and a race – which we have on good authority contains many safety cars and many beers. Turner dials in using the original C01 prototype that’s still covered in clay. Very poignant.
Despite the huge spec including an Intel i7 CPU and Nvidia RTX 3070 GPU, the C01 is remarkably easy to use out of the box, although there’s also scope to upgrade the computing power if you so please. The greatest revelation, though? It’s sold with Assetto Corsa as standard, but the C01 is compatible with just about any PC game you can think of. Maybe I could load up Vice City and deploy those cheat codes after all…