Spotlight On… – Luke Bouwmeester
The man behind the wheel: a short interview with Sim Racing System racers. Let’s know a little more of the guys that are always one place ahead.
Would you briefly introduce yourself for the site’s readers?
My name is Luke Bouwmeester and I’m a 29 year old expat Australian living in Toronto, Canada. I’m an aerospace engineer working in R&D for a tier one automotive supplier. Like many others, I got into sim racing when the pandemic hit and we started working from home, but it’s something I’ve wanted to do for a while. Motorsport is definitely my favourite sport, I follow F1, MotoGP, supercross/motocross and other smaller series religiously.
What’s your racing wheel?
I use a Logitech G27 attached to my desk with old shoes under my office chair wheels to stop me rolling around.
Which are your favourite simracing games?
The game I’ve played the most is Assetto Corsa, it met all my criteria when I wanted to get into sim racing and it’s really amazing how far the game has come from the hard work of the modding community. I recently built a PC so I’m starting to get into ACC now.
For sim racing I generally lean towards tin tops like the BTCC mods for AC, the Mini Cooper Challenge or the Seat Cupra TCR we are racing for the Monday zerobandwidth series this season. I also really enjoy slow car racing like MX-5s and Peugeot 106s, something about extracting pace out of a really slow car is very satisfying and they normally make for great battles. Favourite car in real life would be anything turbo’d and Japanese, I have a soft spot for rotary engines as well.
Brands Hatch would probably be the track I have the most fun at, I also really like Laguna Seca, Road Atlanta and MoSport. I have a love/hate relationship with Bathurst, to me it’s one of the most challenging circuits in the world.
“Being an engineer it’s pretty easy for me to grasp why a certain change does what it does, but that doesn’t always translate to a well handling car.“
Since when are you playing simracing games?
My first race online would have been late April or early May 2020, I was driving in AC for a month or two before that just exploring mods with mates. I first got into thinking about car setup in a racing game in Gran Turismo 4 or 5.
Which was your first racing game ever?
I can’t remember exactly but it must have been something along the lines of Cruis’n World or Top Gear Rally for Nintendo 64.
How do you prepare for a race and/or a championship?
It depends on the car, if it’s a weekly race and the car has some nuance to it ideally I like to do a few short practice sessions in the days leading up to the race. I find tackling learning the car and track in short bursts gets me the best gains, rather than trying to force it into a longer session and just frustrating myself. If it’s a daily race or a race I don’t really care about I might do 30 mins to an hour just before the race or I’ll just do a few laps just beforehand to make sure I can get around the track safely.
Are you good in setupping cars? 🙂
I like to think I am but I still have a lot to learn, being an engineer it’s pretty easy for me to grasp why a certain change does what it does and how it works, but that doesn’t always translate to a well handling car. The subjective part and human factor of how a car handles is the part I need to learn more about. I mostly use the flick and catch approach to cornering, so I try to set up cars to be pretty lively at corner entry so I can get it rotated early and power through the corner without having to still turn a lot at the exit.
“I race hard but fair.”
As for your approach to races and reading your posts/comments, you seem to have a good knowledge of cars and motors. Are you somewhat involved in it or it is just passion?
I’m somewhat of a car guy, I don’t currently have a car in Toronto but when I have had cars and bikes in the past I normally do all the work on them myself. I’ve also loosely been involved in motorsport for most of my life. I raced motocross up until I finished Uni and left Australia for Germany. My dad has a turbo’d MX-5 that he races at his local track in time attack and sprint series.
Do you race in real life too?
I haven’t done any door to door racing in cars but every now and then when I’m back in Australia I’ll get in my dad’s race car to keep him on his toes. I used to do a lot of go-kart racing with other motocrossers on the Saturday nights we would be away for a race weekend. While a lot of the hard skills from motocross don’t translate over to car racing in real life or in sim, the soft skills like race craft and being able to concentrate under pressure definitely do.
What is your best result in SRS?
In the season just gone I won two championships, one was the zerobandwidth MAD Formula Student series and the other was the Pro Sim Racing Celica ST185 series. A good result for me personally which may not seem like a big deal on paper was the first race of a GT3 endurance series a few seasons ago. It was the first series where I said to myself I will make every round and practice to try and do well in the championship. I came out strong and won against a tough field including a number of people who used to lap me.
“I think my aggressive approach to the opening laps comes from my motocross experience, where you can easily get buried in the field.”
What you do like and what you don’t like in SRS races?
I like the simplicity of SRS, running leagues through something like Discord has it’s place but they can be nightmare to find and navigate for someone new. SRS was exactly what I was looking for to start racing online. The variety of cars and tracks and the fact SRS uses mods that were ethically made is awesome. There isn’t much to dislike about SRS, it’s an amazing free service and I think we all need to remember that sometimes. But if I had to pick I would say racing in the exact same time of day and temperature can get a bit repetitive but I understand we want to keep it accessible for people who maybe don’t have the hardware to run Custom Shaders patch or Sol for AC. I’m also not a fan of the tendency to get punted out of a race in certain time slots, but that’s a people problem not an SRS problem.
Is there a particular moment in SRS races – funny, dramatic, adrenaline-filled – that you like to remind?
I wasn’t in this race but I was watching Ted Hough’s stream. The Lola T70 race at Monza ‘66 had the biggest pile up I’ve ever seen on SRS, it took out nearly the whole field. Seeing those cars slide along the road upside down at 200+ was probably the funniest thing I’ve seen on SRS. Other than that the MAD Formula Student series was full of races with amazing battles due to the speed and strength of the slip stream in those cars.
Which are your strongest and your weakest points in racing?
I would say my strongest is probably race craft and the opening laps of a race (which is mostly due to race craft). I tend to make up positions early, I think my aggressive approach to the opening laps comes from my motocross experience, where you can easily get buried in the field. This sort of approach can be a catch 22, if I’m racing with people I know I have no problem going two wide in the opening laps, but giving this sort of trust to other people can bite me in the ass every now and again. My weakest points are probably driving snappy cars and being my own worst critic. I initially struggled with cars that oversteer a lot because I was missing the seat of the pants feel you get in reality and if I think I’m driving badly sometimes I can’t pull myself out of it and it just snowballs into worse driving throughout the race.
How would you define your racing style?
I would say I race hard but fair. I’m not a fan of overly aggressive defending, moving under brakes and blocking is just a waste of time and asking for trouble in my opinion. If someone is clearly faster than me I won’t make it too hard for them to get by, but if we are similar pace I will make my defensive moves early and obviously. When chasing someone I will be patient when needed and I’m not one to go for a risky divebomb, but if there is high chance I can get a move done then I’m not going to wait around.
Thanks to Luke for kindly answering our questions!