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BMW: The eSports Giant Awakens

Thursday, Apr 16 215
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.
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Adam Sinclair

Adam has been a race fan since the first time he went through the tunnel under the Daytona International Speedway almost 30 years ago. He has had the privilege of traveling to races all across the state of Florida (as well as one race in Ohio), watching nearly everything with a motor compete for fame and glory, as well as participating in various racing schools to get the feel of what racecar drivers go through every week.  

Adam spent several years covering motorsports for Examiner.com., where he had the opportunity to see the racing world from behind the scenes as well as the grandstands. He invites everyone to follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus, and looks forward to sharing his enthusiasm for all things racing with the readers of SpeedwayDigest.com.

Be sure to tune in for his sports talk program, Thursday Night Thunder, where he discusses the latest in motorsports news with drivers, crew members, and fans. The show takes place (almost) every Thursday at 8:00 pm EST on the Speedway Digest Radio Network. 

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