After around six months of intensive development work, the BMW M4 GT4 celebrates its virtual premiere on the Sim Racing platform iRacing in June. To ensure that the BMW M customer sports vehicle meets the highest standards of realism, the developers of iRacing work as intensively with the BMW Motorsport engineers as if it were a real racing car.
It will happen in a few days. Then the BMW M4 GT4 celebrates its premiere on the iRacing platform as another current BMW racing car after the BMW M8 GTE. When the users contest their first races in the BMW M4 GT4 in June, there is a phase of intensive cooperation behind the developers of iRacing and the BMW Motorsport engineers. “I can’t wait to get started,” says Kevin Bobbitt, Director of Marketing at iRacing, and emphasizes: “The openness that BMW Motorsport has shown us in this project is fantastic. The coordination paths were very short and you could see from their commitment that the project is really important to them. ”
SIM Racing has been one of the pillars in the BMW Motorsport portfolio for some time. Those responsible recognized the potential of virtual racing before it experienced a boom in real racing during the current break. “BMW Motorsport knows the difference between a normal racing game and a real racing simulation and appreciates their value,” says Bobbitt. “Such a realistic simulation also brings something to the manufacturer, because many more people can test the vehicles and in the best case maybe even buy one.”
As Head of Vehicle Development, Rudolf Dittrich is responsible for the SIM Racing division at BMW Motorsport. It confirms the strong customer focus on which the BMW M4 GT4 project is based. “We want to give our customer teams the opportunity to experience the BMW M4 GT4 virtually,” he says, explaining the advantages: “You can upload and use your own vehicle designs with your own sponsors. Your drivers can also train individually with the vehicle during the current break. And maybe potential new customers will also get a taste of the virtual test and think about driving a BMW M4 GT4 in reality. ”
This is how the collaboration between BMW Motorsport and iRacing works
A prerequisite for maximum authenticity is that the virtual vehicle is as similar as possible to its real counterpart. In the BMW M4 GT4, that was the common aspiration of BMW Motorsport and iRacing. What do you need for this? “We need three things from the vehicle: the laser scans, the CAD data and photos for reference,” explains Brian Simpson, Senior Art Manager at iRacing. “Working with BMW Motorsport was easy in this regard, because we got exactly the data we needed. I did not have to do extensive research myself as with other vehicles, I could simply use the material supplied. ”
Dittrich explains the data transfer process: “It all starts with the license agreement, which forms the basis for the exchange of sensitive data. Then the developers get two data packets of several gigabytes: the CAD data with all specifications of the vehicle parts. This is exactly the same data that a supplier receives from us to manufacture the real component. In addition, iRacing scanned a real vehicle, in this case the BMW M4 GT4 from Turner Motorsport. The second large data package contains all the information on driving dynamics. We use the same data set, for example, to do a lap time simulation or to operate our BMW Motorsport Simulator. These include damper curves, engine performance curves, axle kinematics, weight distribution,
Steve Reiss: “The first feedback is very positive”
The first impression is that this transparency has paid off. “The more real vehicle data we get, the closer we get to real driving dynamics. In the case of our BMW M4 GT4, the first feedback from people who drove the real vehicle is very positive, ”says Steve Reiss, Senior Vehicle Dynamics Engineer at iRacing.
Of course, driving dynamics play a crucial role in user satisfaction. But even the smallest details are crucial for realism. “First of all, our designers disassemble the supplied data and use it to manufacture the basic vehicle. When we have that, the details, such as rotating wheels, displays and much more, are important, ”explains Simpson. “BMW Motorsport is incredible on this point. They even sent us information about the situations in which lamps on the steering wheel are lit and what is shown on the display when. Which buttons does the driver press when and what happens when he does it? I really enjoy working out these ads down to the last detail. ”
First major racing event for the BMW M4 GT4 planned for June 13
At the end of the six-month development period, BMW Motorsport approved the virtual vehicle. This is in no way inferior to reality. “The idea is to take off the virtual vehicle just like a real one,” says Dittrich. “This goes from the external appearance to driving behavior to details such as laying the cables in the interior, light or texture of the dashboard. After all, we are ultimately responsible for ensuring that the virtual BMW M4 GT4 meets all the requirements that we and our customers place on a real racing car. ”
For virtual customers, the H&R 3-hour race of the Digital Nürburgring endurance series powered by VCO on June 13 will be the first major event where they can compete in the BMW M4 GT4. As soon as the vehicle is for sale at iRacing, the Sim Racers – and of course the BMW customer teams involved in Sim Racing – can download it, equip it with their individual designs and test it extensively.