Bruno Spengler thought “everything was lost” after a massive accident at the start of Thursday’s IMSA iRacing Pro Series season finale that put his title chances in jeopardy.
The Canadian was collected in a multi-car crash at the start of the 90-minute race at virtual Watkins Glen International that left Spengler one lap down and out of the fight for the win.
It resulted in a drama-filled ensuing race as the BMW factory driver kept his eye on the leaderboard, knowing that if teammate Nicky Catsburg won, the championship would have swung the Dutchman’s way.
“I was just doing my corner pretty normal and then I think Richard Heistand just lost the car on the curb and then took me out and then I rolled over about ten times,” Spengler said.
“As I was rolling over I was like, ‘OK, that’s it for the championship; that’s over.’
“I was very, very disappointed and very pissed off and thought everything was lost.
“Then at the end, I got the information that if Nicky Catsburg doesn’t win the race I’ll be the champion.
“There were a lot of emotions. I feel I feel very good and I’m very happy now and it’s nice.
“To walk away from a crash like that with no bones broken, I can be happy!”
Spengler’s 14th place result on Thursday was his worst of the season, which was highlighted by two wins, a pair of runner-up finishes and a sixth place result in the No. 7 BMW Team Red entry.
Per IMSA iRacing Pro Series rules, each driver’s lowest result was dropped in the championship results.
“The first [highlight of the season] was my victory in Sebring the first race,” Spengler reflected.
“We didn’t know how long this series would be. Then the break came.
“For IMSA to organize a full iRacing championship series on short notice, we were all so excited. To win the first race was a big highlight.
“Then this last race is also one, because I went from thinking the championship was over, to winning the championship.
“I said to the guys on the team, it’s the same feeling as winning DTM championship. You want to win what you’re doing; [I’m] super happy with it.”
iRacing Experience “Definitely” Helps First Full-Season Campaign
Spengler said he’s looking to carry the momentum from winning IMSA’s first pro virtual championship into real life when the WeatherTech Championship resumes at Daytona International Speedway next month.
He admitted the knowledge gained in the six-race iRacing series will help him as he embarks on his first full season in the GT Le Mans class, piloting the No. 25 BMW M8 GTE with co-driver Connor De Phillippi.
“To have the iRacing simulator at home; all the tracks were amazing to learn,” Spengler said. “[It’s] still a bit of a different story; iRacing is so [close] to reality, to learn the tracks.
“I’m so happy about the championship. I only know Daytona and Sebring [in real life]; all the others are new. That definitely helps me.
“In racing, you can always learn from what you’re doing. I learned from the IMSA iRacing Pro Series. I’m pretty sure I can take championship [title] into the real season starting.
“I’m not stopping racing online. It’s a great way to improve myself as a driver.
“There will be less time, but it will keep me sharp for the races. There’s a test ban so we can’t test, so it’ll be important to stay at home. There is momentum, definitely.”