Many IMSA teams and drivers have adjusted to the idea of racing in their living rooms by running their simulator rigs. Still, drivers from one manufacturer showed that they were ready for this sudden rise in racing eSports at the inaugural IMSA iRacing Pro Series event with Sebring SuperSaturday last month.
Not only did a BMW driver – Bruno Spengler – win the race, but the manufacturer’s drivers swept the podium with Nicky Catsburg in second and Jesse Krohn in third.
It was then IMSA and the rest of the motorsports world realized that the Munich-based manufacturer takes eSports competition seriously.
“We treat it just like any other discipline in motor racing,” said Rudolf Dittrich, the General Manager of BMW’s Motorsport Vehicle Development. “Whenever there’s a BMW race car out there competing, we want it to be very competitive and enjoyable for the spectators. Our passion and determination doesn’t end in the real world, but also stretches into the virtual sphere.”
While BMW’s factory drivers are not required to participate in iRacing and eSports in general, it is encouraged. And in the wake of recent global events, it is paying off.
“The program has gained more presence and attention over the past weeks,” continued Dittrich. “But we see now that we benefit from the structure and high degree of professionalism that we have brought into our program early on. The 1-2-3 BMW win in the very first IMSA race proved just that.”
“BMW has been upping its game when it comes to sim racing,” said Catsburg, who received a congratulatory phone call from BMW Motorsports Director Jens Marquardt after his second-place finish in the IMSA Sebring SuperSaturday event. “It has been a topic for quite a while, more than a year at least. I remember having a meeting about it, where they encouraged us to do more sim racing. We’ve had to up our game. It’s a good thing BMW is taking this as seriously as we do."
BMW may have dominated the first event of the IMSA iRacing Pro Series, and they are ready to win again as others are sure to notice and begin preparing for the rest of the virtual season.
“Preparation and working together as a team, just like in real-world racing,” said Dittrich when asked how BMW is getting ready for the rest of the season. “That’s also the crucial factor in sim racing. We cannot wait for the second race to go green on Thursday.”
Neither can IMSA fans.
Round 2 of the IMSA iRacing Pro Series begins at 6 p.m. ET on Thursday at the virtual WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca on iRacing YouTube and Twitch channels, as well as the iRacing Facebook page, with IMSA Radio’s John Hindhaugh again anchoring the commentary team.
A special edition of The Torque Show with Justin Bell and Tommy Kendall will be streamed live starting at 5:30 p.m. ET on the Torque Show’s Facebook page.