netKar Pro (also nKPro) is an online racing simulator that is developed with an emphasis on realism. It provides advanced features such as a complex tire model (visible dirt, tire wear and flat spots, that influence the car's handling) and a fully interactive cockpit such as those seen in flight simulators.
Debut and Versions 1.0.x
netKar Pro debuted at a fair held in Lanciano (Italy), February 24–26, 2006. Version 1.0 was released for download on April 10, 2006. Developers worked with companies involved in real car racing such as Sparco (design of steering wheels, helmets and driving suits), AIM Sportline  (official and fully functional AIM data acquisition systems are reproduced in netKar Pro), Cooper/AVON Tyres , Brembo (braking systems), Beta Tools; they worked also with a Formula Three team Target Racing, with the race engineer Andrea Quintarelli and the driver Riccardo Azzoli (Formula Gloria, Formula Renault and Formula Three).
The success of its free predecessor netKar Namie, and the anticipation created by previews of netKar Pro in the press, led to high expectations from the simracing community. However, this initial release and the subsequent patch were negatively affected by many bugs hampering gameplay, and therefore was received reluctantly by the sim racing community. In the summer of 2006 it was announced that netKar Pro and BallRacing Developments Ltd - developers of hardware and software for the professional racedriver and simracing community - have joined forces "to co-develop the next generation of motorsport simulation" .
BRD are using netKar Pro to help with the running of their Formula BMW team, as their version of netKar Pro has a Formula BMW car programmed in it, though it is unlikely the public will ever see this car. Also they are running a version of the Osella PA-21 car and Hill Climb addon, which at some stage will be made available to the public.
In October 2006, the netKar Pro development team released version 1.0.2, a patch that improved the multiplayer experience and fixed several other bugs present in the previous two versions. However, version 1.0.2 still had its issues. Still a very controversial game, the online racing community for netKar Pro is rather thin compared to other sim racing games, and contact with the developers has been sparse.
Jaap Wagenvoort - a member of the online netKar Pro community - has been issuing Community Updates on many forums, trying to help improve communication problems between customers and Stefano Casillo, the game's main developer. Version 1.0.3 of the simulation was announced immediately after the release of 1.0.2, but its release was delayed multiple times due to other projects and technical problems during the development. The other projects also helped improving netKar PRO as it allowed the netKar Pro development team to validate the simulation data with Formula One engineers.
During the development of version 1.0.3 a lot of infrastructure related problems were identified and required solving in order for version 1.0.3 to finally be what the simulation originally set out to be. On December 28, 2008, version 1.0.3 of netKar PRO was released, over two years after the previous release. This was a free upgrade for existing customers.
Version 1.0.3 improved the multiplayer experience and increased the stability and performance. Also, new features were added like an anti-join lag feature. Much to the pleasure of the community, flatspotting was also reintroduced to the simulation. Version 1.0.3 was positively received by the simracing community.
Version 1.1 and the Public Beta
During Summer 2009, Kunos Simulazioni announced that the next version of netKar Pro, dubbed 1.1, was to be released through a three-stage Public Beta in an effort to iron out all the bugs before reaching gold status, through the help of the community. A new bug reporting feature was added specifically for this purpose. This was meant to address concerns in the simracing community that v1.1 might have seen the same fate of v1.0 which remained unplayable for a long time for many simracers.
Stefano Casillo also made it clear that a new course was about to start, with a more professional approach to developing software, abandoning the previous one-man-band nature of the project and forming a true, dedicated company (Kunos Simulazioni).
The main aim for 1.1 was to attract new users, and bring back long time players that had lost interest in the project due to it being stagnant. This was to be accomplished by making netKar Pro more accessible without losing its commitment to realism and faithfulness, offering new content, and improving usability. A time-limited discounted offer was also made available.
Beta 1/3 was released in August 2009, and featured:
- A new, streamlined user interface, which included a wizard to make controller set up more straightforward. The redesigned UI abandoned standard Windows UI widgets for the most part, and is focused on ease of use and a sleek look.
- Support for additional controllers (such as keyboards, mices and gamepads), abandoning the previous hardcore approach of supporting only USB steering wheels.
- A number of small usability features were introduced, such as automatically switching on the electric and electronic systems of the car upon entry, a step which in the past relied on the driver's intervention, and was known to be baffling for many newcomers, driving them away as a result.
- Many details which made netKar Pro more faithful and realistic were removed, ultimately deemed as too hard on non-hardcore simracers.
- Reworked Force Feedback, improving realism and immersion.
During the Beta 1 period, new netKar Pro licenses were sold at 19.90 € instead of the full price of 36 €.
Beta 2/3 came in early September, bringing a new car, the Abarth 500 Assetto Corse, and a new fictional track called Aosta, while at the same time fixing many bugs that affected both the handling of some of the cars and the new UI.
The 500 Assetto Corse received much praise from both users and professional reviewers, while Aosta, despite bringing much needed variety to the set of existing tracks, attracted both praise and some criticism because of its high hardware requirements, and an annoying bug that made parts of the grass appear black on a significant number of systems. As of December 2009 Kunos Simulazioni has not released a fix to this problem.
During Beta 2 licenses were initially intended to be sold for 24.90 €, though at a later date Kunos Simulazioni cut the price back to 19.90 €, the same as Beta 1.
Beta 3/3 was released on 16 January 2010. Although it was expected to only contain bugfixes and a revised replay interface, it contained other minor additions, such as: audio levels control, enhanced chat, tweaked differentials and coast torque, plus many usability improvements.
On April 4 a Release Candidate (1.1RC) was leaked to a German site, with the official release of 1.1 Final following on April 6. Reportedly there is no difference between 1.1RC and 1.1 Final. Even though an official change log hasn't been released, 1.1 Final offers improved force feedback, tyre model (which, according to some remarks Casillo made, is likely to be a revised version of the old 1.0.3 model) and also includes the new auto updater system and KOF Lite, the track editor.
Version 1.1 reignited interest in netKar Pro, but the hopes for a new course for netKar Pro started to dwindle in Autumn 2009 when Beta 3 failed to materialize. The netKar Pro community later independently discovered that Kunos Simulazioni had been busy preparing a free, modified version of the simulator containing only the 500 Assetto Corse, which was to be used in an online competition sponsored by MTV Italia.
Kunos Simulazioni failed to communicate what they were doing or why Beta 3/3 had been put on hold, so the MTV/500 release came as a negative surprise to the community. Harsh criticism ensued: Kunos Simulazioni was accused of abandoning a half-finished netKar Pro v1.1 (repeating the mistakes made with v1.0), and at the same time release for free the 500 Assetto Corse, which was previously only available to paying, licensed customers.
Marco Massarutto, Product Manager of netKar Pro, who acts as a spokesman for Kunos Simulazioni along with Casillo, replied to the criticism explaining that the MTV/500 package was actually a dumbed-down version of netKar, only intended to be used within the boundaries of the promotional event.
The netKar Pro community waited until 2010 when v1.1 Beta 3/3 was released on 16 January 2010. Shortly afterwards Casillo announced on the public forum that "Full Mode", a gameplay mode which aims for maximum realism and is currently used by GPChampionship, the main organized racing event in the netKar Pro community, was going to be "deprecated", i.e. disappear from the GUI of netKar (thus forcing users to activate it through manual config file editing) and eventually become unsupported. This caused concern in the community that netKar Pro will be abandoning its commitment to realism in the future and become less of a simulator and more of a videogame.
netKar Pro 1.1 Final was supposed to be ready within February, along with the long-awaited Track Editor. Citing other work commitments, Casillo stopped posting from the official forum in March 2010. 1.1 Final eventually materialized on April 6, 2010 although without any official statements from Kunos Simulazioni.
- A track editor has been bundled with 1.1 Final and more addon tracks are expected to be released over the course of 2010. Several groups of users had already been provided with private releases of the track editor, and tracks such as Mugello and Magione has been in preparation for months already.
- A hill climb track (Trento-Bondone) and a new specific car, the Osella PA-21, have also been the object of much speculation. Preview versions of this content have been around for years, and this update was slated for release after 1.0.3 and subsequently delayed when 1.1 was announced.
- A new entry-level single seater with downforce which will replace the F1600 as the demo car.
There are currently no release dates set for any of these updates.
netKar Pro current line-up is composed of 5 cars:
- The F1600 is an entry-level single seater modeled after the popular Formula Ford. In spite of the small powerplant, its lightweight construction allows for high performance. In v1.1 slicks were removed as a setup option for this car, and only grooved tyres can be fitted: according to Stefano Casillo, the car has too little power to be fun when driven on slicks. As of April 2010, this is the only car available to demo (unlicensed) users. Casillo has expressed the will to change this in the future, and replace the F1600 with another entry-level single seater with downforce, which will be easier to drive.
- The F1800 is a revised F1600, sporting a more powerful engine, limited-slip differential and slicks.
- The F2000 resembles a Formula Renault 2000 car. With its 190 PS engine and downforce, the F2000 has greater performance than either the F1600 or the F1800, at the same time being easier to drive.
- The FTarget is a reproduction of a Formula Three car, the result of a collaboration between the Target Racing Team and Kunos Simulazioni.
- Abarth 500 Assetto Corse is a limited edition racing tune up of the Fiat 500.
- Osella PA-21, this car is planned for release at some time in the future. A simplified version of this car is available in an old version of netKar Pro that can be download for free from the site of Marangoni, an Italian tyres manufacturer. According to Kunos Simulazioni that version does not reflect the current status of the project.
- Brawn GP BGP001 Formula One Car. In October 2009, a video surfaced on YouTube showing a custom version of netKar Pro with a Brawn GP F1 car. Another F1 car had been previously released publicly as a promotional event for the Singtel GP in 2008.
- Formula BMW. This car is only available to BRD.
Note: a light blue background denotes that a track is bundled with the sim, a yellow background denotes that a track has not yet been released. Addon tracks can be downloaded from this DrivingItalia.net Sticky
|Adelaide Street Circuit||Template:Country data AUS Adelaide, South Australia||1||Street circuit||Real|
|Autodromo dell'Umbria||Template:Country data ITA Magione, Perugia, Italy||?||Permanent road track||Real|
|Autodromo di Prato||Template:Country data ITA Tuscany, Italy||2||Permanent road track||Fictional|
|Autodromo Nazionale Monza||Template:Country data ITA Monza, Italy||?||Permanent road track||Real|
|Brno Circuit||Template:Country data CZE Brno, Czech Republic||?||Permanent road track||Real|
|Circuit de Monaco||Template:Country data MON Principality of Monaco||1||Street circuit||Real|
|Circuito di Aviano||Template:Country data ITA Friuli Venezia Giulia, Italy||4||Permanent road track||Fictional|
|Circuit Gilles Villeneuve||Template:Country data CAN Montreal, Québec, Canada||1||Permanent road track||Real|
|Circuito di Aosta||Template:Country data ITA Val d'Aosta, Italy||15||Permanent road track||Fictional|
|Crema Test Track||Template:Country data ITA Crema, Italy||2||Permanent test circuit||Fictional|
|Donington Park||Template:Country data UK Leicestershire, England||2||Permanent road track||Real|
|F1 Stadium||Unknown||1||Permanent road track||Fictional|
|Falkenbergs Motorbana||Template:Country data SWE Bergagård, Sweden||1||Permanent road track||Real|
|Lastplace Lake||Template:Country data FINFinland||1||Permanent road track||Fictional|
|Marina Bay Street Circuit||Template:Country data SIN Singapore||1||Street circuit||Real|
|Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca||Template:Country data USA Monterey, California, USA||1||Permanent road track||Real|
|Mugello Circuit||Template:Country data ITA Florence, Italy||?||Permanent road track||Real|
|Newbury Circuit||Template:Country data UK England||2||Permanent road track||Fictional|
|Oval||Unknown||1||Permanent oval track||Fictional|
|Silverstone Circuit||Template:Country data UK Northamptonshire, England||1||Permanent road track||Real|
|Snetterton Motor Racing Circuit||Template:Country data UK Norfolk, England||1||Permanent road track||Real|
|Trento-Bondone||Template:Country data ITA Trentino, Italy||1||Hillclimbing track||Real|
- Double wishbone suspension, a type of suspension modelled in netKar Pro.
- Comparison of racing simulators.
- iRacing - hardcore road and oval online racing simulator.
- Live for Speed - online racing simulator.
- Racer - a free customizable racing simulator.
- rFactor - moddable racing sim.
- TORCS - open source racing simulator.
- X Motor Racing - an open-ended racing simulator.
- (English) Template:It icon Template:De icon Official site
- (English) Kunos' blog about nKp development
- Template:It icon (English) DrivingItalia netKar Pro Official forum
- (English) GPChampionship netKar Pro online championship, administrated by Jaap Wagenvoort who also acted as a spokeperson for Casillo and collaborated with Kunos Simulazioni.
- (English) NoGripRacing nKp forum
- (English) Race2Play
- (English) RaceDepartment forum
- Template:De icon netKar PRO at Virtualracing.org netKar forum and races
- Template:De icon (English) netKar Pro Series
- Template:Fr icon RacingFR forum (requires a free user registration)
- Template:It icon (English) Radiator Springs Racing Team
- Template:Pt icon SimRacingPortugal forum
- Template:Pt icon VVROnline.com (Brazil) forum
- Template:Ru icon netKar PRO Russia netKar Russian community