Top 3 Finishers:
- 25 Bruno Spengler, BMW M8 GTE
- 26 Nicky Catsburg, BMW M8 GTE
- 24 Jesse Krohn, BMW M8 GTE
Nicky Catsburg: "It’s so great IMSA is organizing this with iRacing. Now they’ve watched us race. I hope they enjoy it as much as I did. I had a couple days of practice with Bruno and Jesse. BMW has been upping its game when it comes to sim racing. It’s so cool to come back with a 1-2-3.
"To give you a sense how big this was, I just got a message from Jens Marquardt, who is the BMW motorsports director. He was watching. It shows the importance of this event. Maybe it is helping us – and I really enjoyed it."
MODERATOR: How long has sim racing been a topic?
Nicky Catsburg: "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. We have to do so… as some pros are so unbelievably quick. We need to have a serious approach. Look at what they do, it’s like what they do in reality. Analyze a setup, see what competitors are doing, and determine fuel usage. It’s a good thing BMW is taking this as seriously as we do."
Jesse Krohn: "Today I couldn’t match the pace of Bruno and Nicky. I pushed as hard as I could. By the time I found some pace it was too little, too late. It was a great experience. It was good to have this on the mind given what else is happening in the world. This has been good for IMSA fans; the feedback has been super good."
MODERATOR: You opened year with the Rolex 24 At Daytona win… so it has been good year so far both in real and virtual worlds so far.
Jesse Krohn: "It’s a dream start to the season. We’re looking to repeat the result in Sebring. Yes it won’t happen for now, but glad we can do this sim racing, and its great that BMW is pushing so hard. Especially at this time of the situation. It’s the only way we can go racing."
MODERATOR: Congratulations, Bruno on the win, and you noted on the live stream it felt like real life. Your thoughts?
Bruno Spengler: "Yeah definitely. It’s very special, because starting the race event, you feel the pressure building up. Between qualifying and the start, I was nervous! It’s definitely real racing. I was sweating a lot. Nicky was pushing a lot. We have to underline the fact IMSA organized this event with so many incredible cars and drivers at Sebring. It’s safer for everyone to stay home, and do the best we can to entertain and still race. Thanks to all involved for setting this up. Passing start/finish, I had goosebumps. I was almost screaming on the radio!
"But I had my dog and wife sitting next to me as I was racing. Normally they are far away! Thanks to BMW and everyone involved."
Questions from Reporters
Nate Ryan/NBC Sports: For everyone, if they can identify themselves before they speak. Nicky mentioned the practice and that BMW has paid attention to this for a while. Was this done on iRacing, or other platforms?
Bruno Spengler: "I’ll start. So, when you know there’s more events coming up on iRacing, you stick to one platform. Definitely iRacing is the one you want to be in. It’s very close to reality. It’s a lot of fun to drive. It’s the platform that helps you the most as a racing driver. You can’t just go and hope for the best. You have to work hard. What’s nice in sim racing is that it’s the only place you can drive and test as much as you want. Here it’s unlimited. It’s fun."
Jesse Krohn: "Like Bruno said, testing here is unlimited. So the competition is super high. They can really fine tune the driving and get the best out of the car. iRacing is the platform i find so realistic; they laser scan the tracks and have a great job with the cars. The M8 is the same as in real life. It correlates to the real thing as well."
John Dagys/Sportscar365: For Nicky, can you talk about interaction with others to get in this position? Say with other engineers?
Nicky Catsburg: "We have some support from others and some very good sim racers. They’ve helped get us up to pace. We’ve been in contact with them the whole race. We tried to save some fuel. Give us a heads-up if someone spins out. Like in reality.
"Another example, I felt I was a little bit off the pace. We used Motec and that’s a system we use in reality. I’m seeing where he’s faster than me. It’s the same as in reality. We have used their experience, and it has been very good to work with them. You need to take this seriously – the pros in same racing are so good."
Steven Cole Smith/Autoweek among others: Where were you physically during the races?
Bruno Spengler: "I was home – I live in France. I have a room setup for my simulator and fitness training. That’s where I was."
Jesse Krohn: "I was home as well in Finland. I have a gaming room setup."
Nicky Catsburg: "Home as well, in my sim/training room in Belgium. I only use the sim because I don’t do enough training!
Tony DiZinno/Michelin Racing USA: How do you maintain virtual concentration without physical elements on track you are used to, other cars, bumps, etc.?
Bruno Spengler: "It is very difficult to stay focused for an hour and a half without any sort of feedback in G-force, or the bumps. It’s purely mental concentration. You’re sweating quite a lot. It works your concentration very hard, and it’s the best you can do if you can’t race. Probably even more than the racecar."
Nicky Catsburg: "I can copy what Bruno said. I struggle more with concentration on the simulator than in reality. G-forces or other cars around. It’s more hard. I had a couple moments this race, and my mind was somewhere else. I fully agree it’s an amazing practice for us to work to be better in real life."
Nate Ryan/NBC Sports: Bruno, can you confirm your wife’s name, and your dog’s name and type?
Bruno Spengler: "My dogs name is Nala, and my wife name is Julie. It’s a French bulldog."
How close was this to the real thing, and filing the void?
Jesse Krohn: "I use VR, so for me it feels like I’m sitting in the car. I feel in the zone with the VR goggles. It feels like I’m in the car. Some people say it’s a disadvantage because of the refresh rate. But if I can look around the corner, and this helps me concentrate in race situations, it helps give a broader view of the car next to me. It feels more real versus having three screens around me. I like using VR and that’s a good way."
Nicky Catsburg: "I would have obviously loved the real event, and nothing beats the real thing. But in terms in realism – it’s the feel you don’t have. But everything else gets so close to reality. My simulator is now close enough to reality where I can find the weak points and try to improve. These simulators are really cool and close to the real thing. It is a hard time to get adjusted for G-force and fear in reality. But I’d love to see the super pros or "aliens" in sim racing, to see them in the real cars. Some of them are now professional race drivers."
Bruno Spengler: "I have to say one of the first things I miss is the contact with people and atmosphere of a race weekend. I miss the people being there, cheering. They do the show; they come on the starting grid, be in the paddock, and the atmosphere is what I miss. We did have a lot of people watching us.
"Like Nicky I see some similarities in the simulator. I can use this in the real car to get back in the real car. It shows you your concentration and skills, and that’s definitely a positive."
Steven Cole Smith/Autoweek among others: Where would you like the next sim race to be?
Bruno Spengler: "It should be a track I don’t know, which is most of the IMSA tracks! So could be Laguna Seca, Road America… I’m open to any track I don’t know."
Nicky Catsburg: "I’m gonna say Watkins Glen. I really love that place!"
Jesse Krohn: "I’d like the virtual championship to follow the real calendar, so would be great to have Long Beach next."
Nate Ryan/NBC Sports: Had there been any gamers in this race, are they favored over real drivers?
Nicky Catsburg: "This was all IMSA, but Sage Karam has done some professional sim racing as well. We didn’t have any usual suspects that win the races on simulators. If they had been, I don’t think Bruno and I would have been 1-2, and Jesse P3."