BMW SIM GT Cup.
The first race of this season’s BMW SIM GT Cup took place on the iRacing simulation platform on 13th January. The best sim racers in the world went head-to-head in a two-hour race in the virtual BMW M8 GTE at ‘Daytona International Speedway’. Team Redline claimed an impressive one-two when Gianni Vecchio and Jonas Wallmeier (both GER) took victory in a dramatic photo finish, crossing the finish line just 0.048 seconds ahead of Formula 1 driver Max Verstappen (NED) and former DTM driver Dani Juncadella (ESP). Success for Vecchio and Wallmeier saw them secure the first places at this season’s finale – BMW SIM Live 2021 – and 2,400 US dollars in prize money. Third place, behind Verstappen and Juncadella, went to the winners of the past two BMW SIM Live Events, Joshua Rogers (AUS) and his Coanda Simsport team-mate Mitchell deJong (USA). The next race in the BMW SIM GT Cup takes place at the Suzuka circuit on 7th March. One day later, the second season of the BMW SIM M2 CS Racing Cup gets underway on the rFactor 2 platform with a race at Imola.
BMW Motorsport SIM Racing Teams.
Since the start of 2021, BMW Motorsport SIM Racing has been collaborating with four big sim racing teams: BS+COMPETITION, G2 Esports, Team Redline and Williams Esports. As official BMW Motorsport SIM Racing teams, they competed in a host of races in January and have already tasted success in virtual BMW race cars.
iRacing 24h Daytona.
The iRacing Special 24h Daytona, on 23rd/24th January, saw three BMW Motorsport SIM Racing teams compete in the same race for the first time. BMW Team BS+COMPETITION, BMW Team Redline and BMW Team GB, which is run by Williams Esports, each fielded one BMW M8 GTE in the GTE class. After 24 hours, Ryan Barneveld (NED), Nathan Lewis and Phillippe Denes (both USA) of BMW Team BS+COMPETITION crossed the finish line in third place to claim a spot on the podium. BMW Team Redline and BMW Team GB came home fifth and sixth in the GTE class. The victorious Triple A Esports team was also in a BMW M8 GTE.
The big winners in the GTD class were Laurin Heinrich, Kay Kaschube and Nils Koch (all GER). The BMW Team BS+COMPETITION trio triumphed in the BMW Bank M4 GT3 to claim the first big win for a BMW Motorsport SIM Racing team at this early stage in the season. The next iRacing Special is the 12h Bathurst on 27th February.
Formula E: Accelerate.
On 28th January, BMW Team Redline and BMW Team GB made their first appearances in the virtual Formula E series. ‘Formula E Accelerate’ saw Kevin Siggy (SLO) and Petar Brljak (CRO) take to the track in the BMW iFE.21 at the circuit in New York. Siggy, who won the ‘ABB Formula E Race at Home Challenge’ last year, was in fine form again and finished third to claim a spot on the podium. He also picked up an extra point for the fastest lap of the race. Brljak came home 18th after a tough race. Round two is scheduled for 4th February.
Digital Nürburgring Endurance Series.
BMW Team BS+COMPETITION and BMW Team GB finished third and fourth when the virtual BMW M4 GT3 made its official iRacing debut in the Digital Nürburgring Endurance Series (DNLS) on 16th January. Victory went to the MAHLE RACING TEAM with its BMW M4 GT3. The second BS+COMPETITION car finished second to complete a top-four lock-out for the BMW M4 GT3. The next race takes place on 20th February.
SimGrid Endurance Cup.
BMW Team G2 Esports got its season up and running on 9th January in the SimGrid Endurance Cup on the Assetto Corsa Competizione platform. Nils Naujoks and Arthur Kammerer (both GER) showed good pace in the BMW M6 GT3 at the 4h Zolder, but lost a lot of time in the pits due to a technical issue within the simulation and consequently missed out on a place in the top-ten. The next race is the 4h Paul Ricard on 6th February.
Interview with Laurin Heinrich, Kay Kaschube and Nils Koch.
Congratulations on the first win for a BMW Motorsport SIM Racing team at the iRacing 24h Daytona! How did you feel the race went?
Laurin Heinrich: “To be honest, it was actually quite a quiet race – thankfully! We were able to maintain our speed consistently and without even the slightest of problems. That was ultimately the key to our victory. Plus, in Kay and Nils, I had two team-mates I could rely on one hundred percent.”
Kay Kaschube: “We did a really good job, but I didn’t find it quite as easy as Laurin. (laughs) As we were in the slowest of the three classes, we had to remain focussed from the first lap to the last, and constantly have an eye on the rear-view mirror. There were a lot of incidents involving cars from faster classes when lapping slower cars. We obviously wanted to avoid that happening to us.”
After the first race, what is your impression of the new virtual BMW M4 GT3?
Heinrich: “The car is great fun! It is very stable on the brakes, which is where it differs to the BMW Z4 GT3. It is also very reliable and good with the tyres. In my opinion, the feeling you get in the BMW M4 GT3 is almost like the BMW M8 GTE, which I really like.”
Nils Koch: “I find the BMW M4 GT3 behaves very neutrally. You feel safe and are subjectively not as close to the limit as you are in the BMW Z4 GT3. That means you can focus even more on setting consistently quick lap times. The tyres held up very well, especially at Daytona. We were able to do three stints on one set of tyres without any issues.”
Kaschube: “I noticed that the set-up window for the BMW M4 GT3 has grown significantly. You now have far more set-up variants which you can test.”
What does it mean to you to be an official BMW Motorsport SIM Racing team?
Koch: “We are proud to race as an official BMW team, as we did recently at the Daytona 24 Hours, one of the biggest highlights on the iRacing calendar. To have then gone on and won the race is obviously a fantastic story.”
Heinrich: “That’s true. During the race you always do your best – nothing has changed there. However, the feeling you get from representing a manufacturer like BMW in a really big race is awesome.”
Kaschube: “Perhaps a word on our BMW partner teams: We often come up against them, particularly Team Redline and Williams Esports on iRacing. It goes without saying that we are rivals and want to win out there on the track, but I already get the feeling that there is a good team spirit developing among the BMW Motorsport SIM Racing teams. I am very excited to see how things proceed.”
BMW M4 GT3 Fanatec steering wheel.
BMW Motorsport SIM Racing presented a spectacular world premiere at its digital BMW SIM Live event last September, which takes the transfer of technology between real and virtual racing to a totally new level: the BMW M4 GT3 steering wheel developed in cooperation with sim racing hardware company Fanatec. It’s the first of its kind to work in both a race car and a race simulator.
While the steering wheel is constantly used and optimized in all tests with the real BMW M4 GT3 race car, it will go on sale to sim racers in the second quarter of 2021. Parallel to the start of distribution through Fanatec, a documentary film will also be produced about the development of the hybrid steering wheel, which combines the two worlds of real and digital racing. We will give you more details in a future edition of the BMW SIM News.