- Team BMW Bank trio reflect on the dramatic victory in race four of the DNLS powered by VCO
- Kaschube: “Nobody wanted to back down”
- Koch: “Bruno is incredibly meticulous and analytical”
- Spengler: “Esports racing is making me a better driver”
Munich – Four races, four different winners: last Saturday’s dramatic finish saw the BS+COMPETITION drivers Kay Kaschube, Nils Koch and Bruno Spengler claim their first victory for Team BMW Bank in round four of the Digital Nürburgring Endurance Series powered by VCO. The previous week, they had finished third in the iRacing 24h Nürburgring powered by VCO. In the VCO Victory Lane Interview, the Team BMW Bank trio discuss the spectacular closing stages of the race, the key to their success, and the standard in the DNLS powered by VCO. Spengler also reveals what he is learning from his two team-mates, and how the simulator is making him a better racing driver.
Congratulations on your victory last weekend. Kay, how did you experience the key scene in the Hohenrain Chicane from the cockpit?
Kay Kaschube: The two laps prior to that were also really special. I had to take some big risks overtaking slower cars to make up time on my teammate Laurin Heinrich. I would have liked to have overtaken them ahead of ‘Mutkurve’ on the final lap to then perhaps open up a bit of a gap. Unfortunately, however, I was not quite close enough at that point. Before we got to Döttinger Höhe, Laurin reached into his bag of tricks and went a little wide at Little Carousel which meant that I overtook him and he was then able to use my slipstream. When we pulled into Hohenrain Chicane, neither of us wanted to take a step back. Everyone knows that you cannot go into that section side by side. I was slightly in front of him in the corner, and he was outside my field of vision. Then there was contact – and I just saw out of the corner of my eye that Laurin had skidded across the grass. Unfortunately, it was too late for me to avoid him. Fortunately, however, I didn’t spin the car and was able to continue immediately. Ultimately, we were both determined to win and nobody wanted to back down.
Nils and Bruno, as team-mates, how much do you go through the wringer at moments like that – particularly when there is nothing you personally can do about it?
Nils Koch: In situations like that, I think your heart beats faster as a spectator than as the driver. I could barely watch. It is really extraordinary for the battle for first and second place to come down to the final corner after three hours of racing.
Bruno Spengler: Even the come-back in the previous half an hour was absolutely insane. Kay’s pace was incredible and he was able to make up a lot of ground. That resulted in this situation, and everyone knew that this was where the race would be decided. It was obviously very tense. I was definitely at least as excited and nervous as I would have been if I had been driving myself. I think the battle for victory was a great spectacle for the spectators, and it obviously turned out very well for us. All the same, I was pretty exhausted afterwards.
How important is this win to you?
Spengler: Very. The standard is really incredibly high on iRacing. Winning such an exciting race is not only great fun, but also stirs up similar emotions to those you feel in real motorsport. A race is a race. You mustn’t forget how much work goes into producing a performance like that. Nils and Kay do all this in their spare time. They come home from work in the evening, and then spend hours working on the set-up, through to midnight to find the perfect configuration. Only if you put in that amount of effort can you win on iRacing, which is why you are just as happy when you end up on the top step of the podium as you are in real motor racing.
Koch: What made the win so special for me was the fact that it was the first for Team BMW Bank and the first victory together with Bruno. It was also the first win for BS+COMPETITION for Kay and me. There is obviously a certain degree of rivalry on the Esports racing scene. You are obviously delighted to beat so many top-class teams, and it automatically awakens a lot of emotions. You mustn’t forget that the DNLS powered by VCO is held in very high regard. When you see the reporting and the organisation, you can tell that this is no normal iRacing series.
Kaschube: I can only agree with what has been said. The victory means an awful lot to me. I think that is also why I did not back down in the final chicane. How often do you get the opportunity to win a race like that alongside Bruno Spengler? It was clear to me that I had to take advantage of that opportunity.
You didn’t have much time to relax or celebrate after the race, did you?
Spengler: No. It was straight back to business. Immediately afterwards, I drove for BMW in THE RACE All-Star Series on rFactor 2, and finished runner-up in race two. In the third race of the day, I drove alongside Kay in the ‘We race Corona’ race. Nils and our teammate Robby Foley took part too. Kay produced a sensational performance in that race and we finished second, just two tenths of a second behind the winners.
How big is the transition when you go from iRacing on the Nürburgring-Nordschleife to a different platform, a different car, and a new circuit?
Spengler: The transition is very big, and sometimes a huge challenge. At the same time, however, it is also very interesting. That kind of thing would never be possible in real motor racing, so I try to learn from such situations. You have to concentrate even harder and develop a feel for the car much quicker. It really is great practice for me.
Kaschube: I find switching between cars particularly challenging. When you first drive a BMW Z4 GT3 and then switch to the BMW M8 GTE, there is a big difference. You do find your rhythm relatively quickly, but it takes a few laps to get the last two tenths of a second out of the car. That can cost you a few grid positions, particularly at a circuit like Daytona on Saturday.
Koch: On top of that, you often find yourself competing against opponents who have had all day to practice and do not have to struggle with the transition. It really does demand a lot of concentration to remember the track and the details. That was not so difficult at Daytona on Saturday as there are quite a lot of straights there.
You are the fourth winning team in four races in the DNLS powered by VCO. What does that say about the standard in this series?
Kaschube: It just shows how high the standard is. In Saturday’s race, just eight seconds separated the first four cars by the time the strategies had sorted themselves out after the final round of pit stops. I find that absolutely fascinating.
Koch: The new regulations are making it even more exciting and add an additional strategic element. It is so close and – unlike in a 24-hour race – you simply cannot afford to lose any time whilst lapping slower cars. If we had dropped a couple of seconds anywhere on the circuit on Saturday, we would not have been in a position to challenge for the win. That is really extreme.
From a spectator’s point of view, it was impossible to predict which teams would be in contention until the very end. Was it a similar experience for you?
Kaschube: Actually, it was often not very easy for us to gauge, as many teams were on different strategies. The MAHLE RACING TEAM, for example, came into the pits very early. To be honest, for a long time it was unclear to me where we would finish in the end. Only after the final pit stop did we have a really clear picture. If you are just up against one team, it is possible to predict where you are going to end up. However, in a race like Saturday’s, where you have five teams battling it out for the win, the spectators are not the only ones who find it tricky to stay on top of things.
In your opinion, was there a key to your success?
Kaschube: You have to say that Bruno drove fantastically. As the start driver, he always has the toughest job. We have been unlucky a few times when we have been involved in crashes early on in the race and then struggled all race with a damaged car. It is obviously difficult to get the maximum out of the race in that situation. It is not easy to get through the first few corners without picking up any damage – particularly in this field which is so evenly matched. This time, it all worked out. Bruno gained some positions in his first stint and also managed to save fuel, which meant we gained time in the pit stop.
Spengler: I think the fantastic way that Nils and Kay did their stuff in traffic was key. They took big risks, and yet the car remained in one piece. That is one of the most important things for me, as even small contact can sometimes be sufficient for the steering to be skewed or the car to lose some top speed. I managed to avoid getting caught up in any incidents at the start and in the early stages, after which Kay and Nils were on full attack mode.
Kay and Nils, that is high praise from a former DTM champion. How does that feel?
Koch: It is obviously a great honour. On the whole, it is just fantastic to be able to share a car with Bruno. I still remember being a big fan of the DTM when I was a young boy, and cheering him on at the Hockenheimring. Now I get to share a car with him. Generally speaking, it is very nice to see so many racing drivers from real motorsport taking part, with great ambition, and having so much fun.
Kaschube: In my view, it is still a little bit surreal. If somebody had told me a few years ago – when we were already taking Esports racing very seriously – that this would happen, then I would not have believed them. For us, it is absolutely mad to be able to work and share a car with Bruno, and obviously Philipp Eng and all the other racing drivers too. The first time we drove together, I immediately phoned my father and proudly told him everything. To receive a compliment like that from Bruno is music to our ears. However, you also have to say that this is our sport, and we have many years more experience than him.
Bruno, when you compare yourself to the other two, which area do you still have room for improvement in?
Spengler: I definitely still have something to learn when it comes to consistency. They can push the car to the limit on every lap, which is not currently the case with me. I think that is mainly down to the fact that I do not yet have such a good feeling for the car or the grip. I definitely need a few more hours in the simulator.
Having said all that, you have not only been successful in the DNLS powered by VCO, but have also tasted success in the IMSA iRacing Pro Series. Kay and Nils, what do you feel makes Bruno so quick in a simulator?
Koch: I think we have seen that a little over the course of this interview. Bruno is incredibly meticulous and analytical in his approach. He has a very steep learning curve, improves very quickly, and takes it very seriously. Many drivers who come from a real motor racing background experience the phenomenon that Bruno just described – that of no longer feeling the car under them. However, very few of them approach this problem as analytically and meticulously as he does. As well as that, he is also incredibly talented. I think he processes the information, which is only received from the screen and the steering wheel, better than others.
Kaschube: I am also very impressed by how committed Bruno is. When you look at the drivers competing in the IMSA iRacing Pro Series, he is definitely one of the ones who trains the most. That obviously pays off in the end. In real motor racing, you possibly don’t have the opportunity to practice so much, but you can in Esports racing – and he really takes advantage of that. If you want to be a crucial tenth faster than your rivals, that is probably what you need to do.
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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