- The BS+COMPETITION discuss their triumph in the virtual endurance classic.
- Eng: “I am delighted to enjoy this kind of success at a time like this”.
- Voß: “Philipp did a mega job”.
- Heinrich: “Now, we are the hunted, not the hunters anymore”.
Munich – After a dramatic race, which remained exciting right down to the finish, Philipp Eng, Laurin Heinrich and Alexander Voß took victory in last weekend’s iRacing 24h Nürburgring powered by VCO. In an interview with VCO, the three BS+COMPETITION drivers look back on the race and take stock of their achievement. The three drivers also discuss the key to success, what they have learned as a team from each other, and how they got to know each other at last year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Congratulations on your win last weekend. Now that the dust has settled a little, how do you rate the victory?
Philipp Eng: Very highly. Especially because we, together with our second car, were the only ones with sim amateurs in the team – Bruno and me. Fortunately, we had very good team-mates. Laurin, Alex, Kay and Nils are absolute experts and, as far as I am concerned, are among the best Esports racers in the world at the moment. Despite that, I will definitely immediately add this success to my CV. I am overjoyed to enjoy this kind of success at a time like this.
Laurin Heinrich: When I look back at my Esports racing career so far, I would definitely class it as my biggest success, particularly when you consider that we were up against teams consisting solely of professionals. Having said that, Bruno and Philipp did to a superb job.
Alexander Voß: For me too, that was definitely one of the biggest successes of my career. The race is generally regarded very highly on the Esports racing scene so we can really be very proud of what we achieved. I don’t think we could have had that kind of race without Philipp, nor could our sister car without Bruno. We all pulled together as BS+COMPETITION and performed really well as a team.
In your opinion, was there one certain key to the success?
Voß: One of the keys was clearly the fact that we drove very consistently throughout the whole race and made it through without any major incidents. I think we had a better strategy and were also a little calmer than some competitors in the key moments. At the same time, we were also very well prepared. During the race, we pretty much knew exactly what we had to do out on the track.
Heinrich: I also believe that we consistently put our opponents under pressure and drove with a certain coolness and serenity. That allows you to force mistakes from one or two of your rivals, which can be crucial in the end.
Eng: We simply did not make any mistakes, and that is exactly how you win a 24-hour race. From my experience, and looking at my victories in the 24-hour races at Spa-Francorchamps and Daytona, I can tell you that whenever we won, we had not made any mistakes. It is exactly the same in Esports racing. If you stay error-free, do not make any contact, and avoid getting bogged down in strategy, then you have a very good chance of winning.
You mentioned the strategy. Are you referring to the fact that, unlike other teams, you did two stints on the same set of tyres and, in doing so, saved time in the pit lane?
Eng: Absolutely. However, for that to work, you also need a set-up that allows it. Our set-up was really very good. I believe that the three of us, but particularly Laurin and Alex, did a superb job in terms of tyre management. It is really not easy to consistently drive double stints on those tyres. That is a big challenge, particularly in the final two or three laps of the second stint.
How do you go about deciding on the strategy of a race?
Heinrich: We discuss the strategy together. It is important that everyone agrees on it. That also applies to the way the stints are allocated. In this race, the strategy was actually quite clear. We set ourselves the goal of always driving seven laps. That paid dividends in the end.
One week before this latest success, you again crossed the finish line in first place in round three of the DNLS powered by VCO – however, you were then penalised after the race and relegated to sixth place. To what extent does that make this victory even more satisfying?
Eng: I never actually think about that kind of thing. I always take it one race at a time. Missing out on the win the previous week was obviously frustrating, but we now hope we can repeat the victory this Saturday.
Voß: For me, the iRacing 24h Nürburgring does not have an awful lot to do with the DNLS, and is even more prestigious. Having said that, I think this victory does help you forget the previous week’s race.
Philipp, you were involved in a spectacular battle with the MAHLE RACING TEAM during the race. Did you definitely have a podium finish in mind at that moment, or did you simply not want to let the Audi past?
Eng: I have driven against Agustin Canapino twice. He is not only really quick in a real racing car, but also in a simulator. I knew that I did not quite have his pace, but I obviously still wanted to keep him behind me for as long as possible. Although it was a 24-hour race, I wanted to prevent him from being able to pull clear of us, because Laurin and Alex would have had to take bigger risks to close the gap.
How much did you benefit from your experience of real motor racing?
Eng: In the end, it all comes down to instinct. That is why I hold Esports racing, and particularly the competition on iRacing, in such high regard. The competition is fierce and the opposition is very strong. You really have to fight for every centimetre on the racetrack. That keeps my instincts sharp, and the experience I have gained in real racing cars definitely helped me in that situation. Basically, I did not want to hold the team back because I have less experience. I just wanted to avoid making any mistakes and drive as fast as I am currently able. I actually felt a little bit like a gentleman driver in a Pro-Am car.
What do you mean?
Eng: I have often driven with amateur drivers in the past. Sometimes it went well, sometimes not. At the moment, I do not yet have the same speed as Alex and Laurin, and it will take a while for me to get there so my goal was simply to not make any mistakes.
Voß: I think I have to put that into perspective. Philipp did a mega job – particularly given that, unlike us, he cannot call on years of experience in a simulator. It is impossible to praise highly enough what he did at the weekend.
You took the lead shortly after the crash involving the Redline Ferrari, which was leading up to that point. Did you then feel any extra pressure?
Voß: Not really. Once Laurin had overtaken the MAHLE RACING TEAM Audi, we were gradually able to open up a lead. We were never in any danger of losing first place. For us, it was primarily about not damaging the car, taking care when lapping other cars, and not making any mistakes.
Philipp, after the race you said that you were pretty exhausted. To what extent can the exertions during a virtual 24-hour race be compared to the strain of a similar race in real motorsport?
Eng: I think you can easily compare it with the 24-hour races at Le Mans and Spa-Francorchamps. You only have three drivers there too, so you have a similar sleep-wake rhythm. Although I did not drive as much as Laurin and Alex, I was still pretty drained mentally. The four-hour stint in the morning was particularly tough, as our rivals really kept us on our toes, so from a mental point of view, it is quite similarly demanding to a real 24-hour race. Physically, there is obviously no comparison. After a 24-hour race in real motorsport, you can feel it in your whole body.
Laurin and Alexander, how would you rate and appraise last weekend’s event?
Heinrich: We definitely enjoyed greater attention, which was very nice. Just the fact that there was a livestream throughout the entire race was pretty cool, in my opinion. Having the commentators from Radio Le Mans working on the race was obviously very special.
Voß: The commitment and organisational efforts of VCO are helping the whole scene and the sport as a whole tremendously. Particularly on social networks, you can really feel the push from VCO. They have an awful lot of ideas and huge potential.
Philipp, you said after the race that you have learned an awful lot from Laurin and Alexander during the time that you have been driving with them. Can you also benefit from that in real motorsport?
Eng: Definitely. Particularly as you see certain things from a different point of view and come at things from a different angle. I have learned a lot when it comes to strategy. Laurin, Kay, Nils and Alex are really very good in this regard. You learn to manage the tyres. You also learn something from looking at the vehicle data and telemetry recordings. All that not only really helps me in Esports racing, but also in real motorsport. And my driving obviously benefits too: Esports racing is its own discipline, in which I am not yet as confident as I am in a real race car. The natural instinct to push the car to the absolute limit at all times is different to in real motorsport.
Laurin and Alexander, have you learned anything from Philipp?
Voß: I think it is particularly interesting for me, as I am not as familiar with real motorsport as Laurin. I find the way Philipp approaches the races fascinating. His attitude and approach is different to what we know from Esports racing.
Can you give an example?
Voß: I find it fascinating how, from the word go, Philipp tried to push the car, and to frustrate and intimidate opponents and make their life as difficult as possible. I had not really come across that so much in Esports racing. Here, you focus more on yourself.
Heinrich: I have come across that a bit in real motorsport. When you are driving a real car, you immediately push and try to get the maximum out of it. In Esports racing, you tend to drive first and obviously just give 98% for the first one or two laps. I understand both standpoints and am trying to combine the two a little in the future.
Laurin and Alexander, how is it for you to drive in the same team as a DTM driver and BMW works driver like Philipp Eng?
Heinrich: Driving in the same team as Philipp is obviously very cool. Just one year ago, I was sat in the grandstand at a DTM event, watching him in real motor racing. It is awesome to win a 24-hour race with him now.
Voß: I agree. To be in touch with somebody like Philipp and Bruno on a daily basis is a great honour. That really gives us a boost on many levels.
Can you remember when you met Philipp for the first time?
Voß: We met Philipp last year at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Laurin and I had previously won the ‘BMW 120 at Le Mans’ and, as winners, were invited to Le Mans by BMW. BMW was running a challenge during the race weekend, in which Esports racers went up against real racing drivers. It was through that that we got to know and chat to Philipp and Nick Catsburg. It is crazy to think that we have now – not even a year later – won the iRacing 24h Nürburgring together.
Eng: That is really funny. I drove in a team with Nicky in the aforementioned ‘BMW 120 at Le Mans’. Only a few days ago, I found an old message that I sent to Nicky before that race. It said – obviously with a little wink: “I have a good set-up and we are sure to win this thing.” We then drove a few laps and realised that we were absolutely in no man’s land. I watched the race again afterwards and saw the fireworks that Laurin and Alex produced. It was an extremely cool moment for me to meet them at Le Mans, to chat to them about Esports racing, and to discover their mindset. I think it was a mutual honour to drive together in the virtual 24-hour race at the Nürburgring.
Philipp, you are bound to be in touch with drivers from the world of real motorsport. Do they take notice of this kind of success?
Eng: Absolutely. I have also received an awful lot of positive messages from fans and fellow drivers on social media. I believe the success is regarded very highly. We went up against the best of the best. There may not have been the greatest number of cars in the SP9 class, but that was offset by the fact that it was the highest quality. Plus, my race engineer from the DTM sent me a message and asked why I was so much slower than Laurin and Alex. (laughs)
Looking ahead briefly to the next race: Do you feel any extra pressure after your win?
Voß: For me personally, it is a relief to have shown everyone that we have the necessary speed. Winning this prestigious race has taken the pressure off us a little. I think we will come across some of our rivals from the iRacing 24h Nürburgring again – particularly the MAHLE RACING TEAM. As such, there is naturally an air of anticipation.
Heinrich: After our win last weekend, you can definitely say that now we are the hunted, not the hunters anymore.
The DNLS powered by VCO race calendar
21st MarchRound 1
4th AprilRound 2
18th AprilRound 3
2nd MayRound 4
30th MayRound 5
13th JuneRound 6
15th AugustRound 7
17th OctoberRound 8
14th NovemberRound 9
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