BMW Motorsport SIM Racing has an extensive and diverse programme in store for the Esports community in 2021 – from BMW SIM Cups and BMW Motorsport SIM Racing teams to technical innovations. In our monthly BMW SIM News, we briefly summarise news from the world of virtual racing, and provide information on driver backgrounds, teams, technology, and much more. Over the year, we also regularly focus on individual subjects in separate press releases.
BMW SIM GT Cup.
In races two and three of this season’s BMW SIM GT Cup, a further two crews qualified for the 2021 finale. Enzo Bonito (ITA) and Maximilian Benecke (GER) of Team Redline won the race at the Suzuka circuit in a BMW M8 GTE. In doing so, they followed in the footsteps of their team-mates Jonas Wallmeier (GER) and Gianni Vecchio (GER), who had won the season-opener. Victory in the second BMW SIM GT Cup competition of the month, at Silverstone, went to Joshua Rogers (AUS) and Mitchell deJong (USA) of the Coanda Simsport team. As such, defending champion Rogers has once again qualified for the final. One regular race remains, at Road Atlanta in May, before more places are up for grabs in the final race of Season 1 in the BMW M8 GTE at the Nürburgring.
BMW SIM M2 CS Racing Cup.
While the BMW SIM GT Cup is held on the iRacing simulation platform, the sim racers in the BMW SIM M2 CS Racing Cup do their racing on the rFactor 2 platform. The second season of the Cup competition is taking place within the framework of the rFactor 2 GT Pro Series powered by VCO. At both the Imola season-opener and race two at Spa-Francorchamps, Marcell Csincsik (HUN) from the Varga Simracing Team was unbeatable in the virtual BMW M2 CS Racing. In doing so, he secured his ticket for the final. His team-mate Michal Smidl (CZE) also booked his place at the season finale, courtesy of his second place in race two. As Csincsik had already guaranteed his place, the ticket went to Smidl.
Formula E: Accelerate.
Third place in the Driver and Team competitions were the results with which the virtual season of the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship ‘FE: Accelerate’ drew to a close for BMW i Andretti Motorsport in March. In the final two races of the season, Kevin Siggy (SLO) from BMW Team Redline was unable to back up his impressive performances in the previous rounds. As a result, he finished third in the Drivers’ Championship with 75 points. Together with Petar Brljak (CRO) of BMW Team GB, he scored 134 points for BMW i Andretti Motorsport, which put them third in the Team standings. Dennis shone with a win, while Günther finished sixth in his race. “I was delighted with my victory in ‘FE: Accelerate’. The points were very important for the Team competition,” said Dennis. “I was surprised how well it went, as I had never driven a virtual Formula E car in a simulator like that. It was fun – I’d happily do it again!”
Siggy said: “The last two races were very disappointing, because I did not perform to my own expectations, particularly in qualifying. In the race, I was always able to stay with the fastest cars, but when you start from too far back on the grid, you hardly have any chance. When it comes down to it, my season started very well, but then went downhill. Despite that, ‘FE: Accelerate’ is a very well-organised championship and the racing in the virtual Formula E cars was great fun. I will definitely be back if there is another season.”
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. They took part in numerous races as official BMW Motorsport SIM Racing teams in March, celebrating successes in virtual BMW racing cars.
iRacing 12h Sebring.
Class victory for BMW Team Redline in the iRacing Special at ‘Sebring International Raceway’ after twelve hours, 367 laps and a thrilling battle with the BS+TURNER Team, Maximilian Benecke (GER), Enzo Bonito (ITA) and Jonas Wallmeier (GER) who crossed the finish line first in the GTE class in their BMW M8 GTE. The Special events are among the highlights on the iRacing calendar. More than 2,000 teams were involved, across three classes, in the Sebring race. Depending on their iRatings, they were divided into many different splits. 53 cars lined up in the “Top Split”. As well as the GTE class, Team Redline also won the overall competition, but in an LMP2 prototype from the most powerful class. In the GT3 category, victory went to the virtual BMW M4 GT3. Mikkel Gade (DEN) and Felix Quirmbach (GER) triumphed for the BS+COMPETITION team. BMW Team BS+COMPETITION and Team BMW Bank both failed to finish after crashing. BMW Team GB finished ninth in the GTE class.
BMW Team G2 Esports.
BMW Team G2 Esports tasted success in several racing series in March. Nils Naujoks and Arthur Kammerer (both GER) finished second in the BMW M6 GT3 at the final round of this season’s SimGrid Endurance Cup, the 8h Silverstone. A few days later, the same duo took victory in the opening race of the SimGrid Sprint Cup at the Snetterton circuit. BMW Team G2 Esports competes in the British GT Esports Championship – not in the BMW M6 GT3, but the BMW M4 GT4. Naujoks finished third in the two races so far and is currently tied in first place in the GT4 Drivers’ Championship. .
An interview with Maximilian Benecke.
Maximilian, you qualified for the final of this year’s BMW SIM GT Cup back at the start of March. How reassuring is that?
Maximilian Benecke: “That is very reassuring and relieves a lot of pressure looking ahead to the coming races. My three Redline team-mates who have already qualified and I can now take a slightly more relaxed approach to the rest of the season. Perhaps our pulse will no longer be racing at 180 behind the wheel in qualifying, but will be down around 120.”
The season so far has been a two-way battle between the two Redline and Coanda Simsport teams. How big is the rivalry?
Benecke: “It is a pretty big rivalry. It is no different for us in sim racing to anywhere else in the world of sport. There is always a lot of competition between the top teams. This ideally leads to some spectacular duels out on the track, but sometimes also to collisions and spins. That is part and parcel of motor racing. I think a rivalry like this makes our races really interesting for the fans.”
How is the work and driving divided within such a big team as Redline?
Benecke: “With regard to the division of work, it always depends on how many races each of the drivers is set to drive in at that time. For example, if I have another very important race just before a BMW SIM GT Cup, my team-mates take over the test work with the BMW M8 GTE and will ideally have already developed a good set-up by the time I arrive. Exactly who I share a care with depends primarily on the pace that everyone shows during preparations. However, there are also teams that have been established for a long time, who simply like to drive together.”
At the iRacing Special at Sebring, your team was also victorious in the GTE class. What makes winning an event like that so special?
Benecke: “For us drivers, these special events are actually the highlights of the season, from a sporting perspective. Sure, big championships are also very important, because there is a lot of money at stake. But the iRacing Specials have been around for so many years, and all the teams practice incredibly hard for them. I think all the teams are best-prepared for these races, which makes them all the more prestigious to win. For me personally, our victory at the 12h Sebring is extremely valuable.”
Last month, both of your big wins came in the virtual BMW M8 GTE. How do you like the car?
Benecke: “I really like driving the BMW M8 GTE. For me, it is one of the best cars that iRacing has to offer. In the past, the BMW M8 GTE has been competitive in almost every race – particularly in the 12h Sebring recently. You could see this by the way that almost all the teams in the GTE class were running this car. However, I am also looking forward to driving the BMW M4 GT3 in season two of the BMW SIM GT Cup. I gained initial experience with that car at the 12h Bathurst and can hardly wait to get to know the new car better.”
IMSA iRacing Pro Series.
The IMSA iRacing Pro Series enters its second season in April and May. Last year, during the first phase of the pandemic, IMSA introduced real drivers to the virtual series and organised a full season on the iRacing simulation platform. Back then, the title went two BMW works driver Bruno Spengler (CAN). Spengler is now back to defend his title. However, he is by no means the only BMW works driver who will take the wheel of the BMW M8 GTE in the three scheduled races at the circuits in Sebring (8th April), Laguna Seca (22nd April) and Road Atlanta (6th May). He wil be joined by Augusto Farfus (BRA), Philipp Eng (AUT), Connor De Phillippi (USA), John Edwards (USA) and Turner Motorsport driver Robby Foley (USA). They will be supported in their preparations and during the races by sim racers from BMW Team BS+COMPETITION.