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Single player vs. Online difficulty, or 'why it's too hard'

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I'm finding that when I do the daily or weekly online challenges, I'm posting times well into the top tier, so I can't be all that bad at the game.
However, in the single player championships, I'm finding the times posted by the AI to be much quicker than I am. I have to post a really good time to be in with a shot of winning at Clubman level. In professional or elite I am basically just trying to drive clean and as fast as I can, as well as relying on the AI to crash or even retire thus pushing me up the leaderboards - I'm not troubling the top drivers. By the time I've got to master level I'm just getting absolutely rolled by the AI, generally beating me by a minute or so most stages - I don't see how I could realistically ever win the masters championship.
So, because I'm by that point locked in to 36 stages per championship of consistently getting beaten, it's not much fun. I know there are some people out there who are properly hardcore and really enjoy the challenge, but I'd personally like it toned down quite a bit. 
The comparison I would make is that when I play Rock Band(TM) I feel like a rock star and get to play awesome rock songs to sell out crowds - it makes you feel like more than you actually are, and that is fun. In DiRT, I'd like a similar feeling - get to the top and become the champ. Presently I get to the top and think, I'll never be champ.
Perhaps a difficulty setting is all we need, something to separate regular people from the hardcore - but the thing is that when I'm playing online I am posting competitive times, so something doesn't add up. If I can be in the top 20% or so of people playing the daily challenges, then you would think I would be able to be near the top in single player. I think it's currently geared for the very high-end player, those right at the top, so it means that for someone like me who is pretty good, but not world class I don't have a good experience in the mid-to-end game.
...So apart from the trolls who are going to post 'be better at games' or 'consider sucking less' are other people beating this game? Are many people able to get the achievements for winning at master level?

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Yeah, it is possible to get the achievements at Master level. I have unlocked 'Born To Run' (Win a Championship at Master Level.) I don't know how many others have succeeded though.

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lol. The weight reduction and upgrades are not cheats. Rally teams are like F1 teams, they upgrade parts throughout a season. The game is trying to simulate that. Can it be annoying? Yes. But it gives you a reason to complete career mode instead of just bashing away at custom mode, driving the tracks that you prefer

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