Between real-world motorsport and sim racing: the BMW M4 GT4

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The BMW M4 GT4 played a leading role in the technology transfer between real-world motorsport and sim racing in the 2020 season. The introduction of the car on the simulation platforms iRacing and Assetto Corsa Competizione is just as much a new dimension of creating synergies between real-world and virtual racing as the livery contest and the virtual track day with the BMW M customer racing car. BMW Motorsport SIM Racing followed all these projects with intense media coverage.
 
“The BMW M4 GT4 is a superb example of what we mean when we emphasise that the BMW Motorsport SIM Racing projects are also about synergies between real-world and digital racing. This pillar of our racing programme is self-contained, but pays in to all of the BMW Group’s motorsport,” says Rudolf Dittrich, Head of BMW Motorsport SIM Racing. “Building the bridge between real-world and digital racing makes a great deal of sense in the case of a BMW M customer racing car such as the BMW M4 GT4. Many customers have explicitly asked for this car to be implemented. On the one hand, to have spectacular virtual races – particularly during the pandemic – and on the other hand, to practice for the next real appearance at home, and in doing so have almost exactly the same driving experience as in the real-world racing car. Enabling a much larger customer base to test the BMW M4 GT4 virtually, and in doing so to get a good initial impression, might result in one or more additional interested parties in a real car. No doubt we will apply this principle again in future projects with BMW racing cars.”
 
Development of the digital BMW M4 GT4.
The digital version of the BMW M4 GT4 made its debut on the simulation platform iRacing at the start of June. Over the course of the year, the platform Assetto Corsa Competizione also introduced the car. To make the driving experience as realistic as possible for the sim racers, the BMW Motorsport engineers collaborated extremely closely and transparently with the simulation platform colleagues.
 
In the case of iRacing, the developers received two large data packages of several gigabytes from BMW Motorsport. Dittrich explained the process in a press release at the end of May 2020 as follows: “The first package contained the CAD data with all the specifications of the car parts. That is exactly the same data that a supplier gets from us to produce the real component. iRacing also scanned a real car, in this case the Turner Motorsport BMW M4 GT4. The second large data package contained all the information on driving dynamics. We use the same data set to do simulate lap times or to operate our BMW Motorsport simulator, for example. This data includes damper curves, engine performance curves, axle kinematics, weight distribution, aerodynamic values: any figures that we had calculated for the car we passed on to iRacing. iRacing ended up knowing as much about the car as our customer teams do.”
 
Virtual track day with the BMW M4 GT4.
To give potential customers the opportunity to experience the BMW M4 GT4 in the race simulator, the first BMW Motorsport SIM Racing Track Day was held at the end of June. A selection of BMW M customer racing drivers took to the track at the virtual Nürburgring and received tuition from well-known “instructors”: BMW works driver Philipp Eng, who enjoys great success in the simulator himself, and the three sim racers Alexander Voß, Laurin Heinrich and Nils Koch. In addition to the pure driving experience, the procedure during a race was also simulated, with free practice sessions, qualifying and races. Instructors used a voice app to give the participants valuable tips on set-up work with digital race cars.
 
“With their various commitments and activities, BMW has long demonstrated how seriously they take the field of sim racing,” said Eng in the press release at that time. “This event showed that once again. I think it’s great that customer teams and drivers from the BMW Sports Trophy are also being given the opportunity to collaborate with sim experts.”
 
BMW M4 GT4 livery contest.
In July 2020, BMW Motorsport SIM Racing announced the BMW M4 GT4 Livery Contest with the tagline “THE FUSION OF REAL WORLD AND SIM RACING” – a design competition in which entrants from the sim racing community were able to let their creativity run free, and even have their dream design feature on the real-world racetrack.
 
Chan Wen Bin prevailed over numerous rivals with his suggested design for the BMW M4 GT4 and received a cash prize of 3,000 US dollars and the joy of having his design used on a real racing car. The BMW M customer racing team FK Performance contested the season finale of the DTM Trophy in Hockenheim with the BMW M4 GT4 in the winning design in November 2020.
 


The 27-year-old graphic designer from Malaysia won over not only the top-class jury consisting of multi-media artist and BMW Art Car artist Cao Fei, Michael Scully (Global Automotive Director @Designworks) and BMW works driver Bruno Spengler with his design; BMW Motorsport fans also had the opportunity to vote for their favourites via social media and influence the decision.
 
“With the BMW M4 GT4 Livery Contest we showed that in addition to racing drivers, you can also integrate and speak to other communities, as well as support graphic designers digitally via sim racing and make them more well known,” says Dittrich.
 
BMW SIM Live on 5th December 2020.
BMW SIM Live 2020, which will be broadcast from 4.00 PM CET on 5th December via a livestream on the BMW Motorsport and BMW Esports channels, will include the final races in the BMW SIM 120 Cup and the BMW SIM M2 CS Racing Cup. When the season’s race winners come together they will be competing for a total prize fund in excess of 25,000 euros.
 
BMW Motorsport SIM Racing will use the event framework to present its extensive programme for the upcoming season. This will be expanded significantly in many areas, to do justice to the momentum of the rapidly emerging digital racing sector. Plans include the one-make cup competitions, hardware developments and collaborations. BMW Motorsport SIM Racing will present several spectacular world premieres in these areas at BMW SIM Live 2020.
 
By: BMW

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