With one full year of the global pandemic behind us, Motorsport as we knew it is not yet back on its feet. Hundreds of races across the world were cancelled or postponed, and the handful of racing events that did happen, had to do so without spectators.
We are now getting closer to the start of the new 2021 season, and it is safe to say that most racing calendars are still inexistent, or disrupted, as organizers have to take risk assessment, travel restrictions, international health rules, and commercial feasibility into account. While this is all bad news for motorsport organizers, the related brands, and potential investors, it has been a blessing for Sim Racing.
2020 has shown us that due to the ongoing situation, the motorsport industry as a whole, has expanded its efforts towards the virtual racing world. Most teams and drivers, race promoters, racing venues, and investors, have branched out to the sim racing world in some form or another. Without going into the details of why this is happening, it is safe to say that sim racing as an industry, is definitely here to stay.
One of the big racing brands that early on adapted itself to this unusual situation is the German car manufacturer BMW. Its Motorsport division is now embracing the world of Esports to represent its brand and brand partners via a number of digital services. Furthermore, BMW ventured into the world of Sim Racing software and hardware, collaborating with a good number of sim racing software developers, peripheral manufacturers, and design companies to ensure that the BMW brand is represented within the sim racing industry and its digital platforms.
First of all, BMW Motorsport has confirmed that for 2021, it will continue and upscale its partnership with a number of renowned esports organizations, and virtual racing teams around the world.
The new iRacing based BMW SIM GT Cup is the successor to the BMW SIM 120 Cup. The championship is divided into two seasons, a total of ten races will take place during 2021. In the five rounds that comprise Season 1, sim racers go head to head in teams of two in the BMW M8 GTE. In Season 2, the new BMW M4 GT3 will be the car of choice for the teams. As in 2020, the races are 120 minutes long and include a mandatory driver changeover.
Also the official BMW SIM M2 CS Racing Cup is back. Same car, same simulation platform, but new format. This year’s BMW SIM M2 CS Racing Cup features as a support series for the popular and top-class rFactor 2 GT Pro Series. As a result, the BMW one-make cup will take place at different racetracks, whereas it was previously held exclusively at the Nürburgring and on the Nordschleife. As with the BMW SIM GT Cup, two seasons are planned over the course of the year. Each will consist of six races. The action gets underway on 8th March at Imola. The dates have already been confirmed for all the races in the first season.
The Assetto Corsa Competizione racing sim is the platform of choice for the BMW SIM Time Attack. This is a lap time competition on circuits that change monthly. Each month, the competitor who sets the fastest lap time, at the wheel of the virtual BMW M4 GT4, qualifies for BMW SIM Live 2021. What makes this competition so special is that every single member of the Assetto Corsa Competizione community may enter.
Products such as the upcoming BMW M4 GT3 Steering wheel designed in partnership with Fanatec, and marketed as the first of its kind to work in both a race car and a race simulator are showing the world that BMW means business when it states that sim racing is part of the future of motorsport.
The Podium Steering Wheel BMW M4 GT3 features a full carbon fibre construction, optimised with feedback from BMW Motorsport pro drivers. It features RGB LED-backlit front buttons, backlit 12-position rotary switches, thumb-operated rotary encoders, dual-action magnetic shifters, dual-Hall sensor clutch paddles, and more.
A set of all-new push-pull magnetic shifter paddles allow the driver to upshift and downshift (or activate other functions) with either hand. All 12 front-facing buttons and multi-position switches are backlit with RGB LEDs, which are programmable via CAN bus in the real car, and via FanaLab on the PC.
Furthermore, BMW Designworks partnered up with Sedus Stoll AG which is one of the leading European manufacturers of office solutions to create the “Fusion SL” concept sim racing furniture. The elegant designer table can be converted into a sim rig in a matter of seconds. The entire sim racing hardware is elegantly and functionally integrated into the design of a lounge table, meaning the steering wheel and pedals are only visible once it has been folded out.
The Fusion SL combines modern, high-quality design with equally high-grade and sustainable materials like felt, flax, wood and recycled materials made of carbon, aluminium and PET.
The Fusion is designed as a concept study in which later industrialization was considered from the beginning. If and when the Fusion SL goes into production, it will be available in different colors and materials.
Also in the software world, BMW strengthened its efforts to make sim racing an integral part of its motorsport competition and marketing strategy. BMW released its new BMW M4 GT3 as a virtual model on the iRacing sim racing platform, as a prototype ahead of its first real race outing. iRacing members can drive the virtual BMW as an “in-development” car, that will receive a comprehensive set of updates during the coming months with a goal to make the final version match its real-world counterpart.
Revealed at BMW Sim Live in early December, the new car will compete in GT3 series around the world in the coming years, and will also run in iRacing’s corresponding official series and special events. The iRacing model of the M4 GT3 is developed in partnership with BMW Motorsport who provided iRacing with over 70 GB of data. BMW Motorsport stated that they are using the same set of data to operate its official BMW Motorsport simulator.
Official Webpage – www.bmw-motorsport.com