Hands-on with the new BMW M4 Class1 and Monza in rFactor 2

As revealed in a recent live stream, a new BMW concept racing car has arrived, for free, in PC simulator rFactor 2. It launched alongside the Autodromo Nazionale Monza, so we thought that there’s no better location to test out this new racing thoroughbred than the hallowed Italian turf.

Hands-on with the new BMW M4 Class1 and Monza in rFactor 2

Let’s start with the car. Yes, you read that correct, it’s free for all rFactor 2 players – a gift from Studio 397 and the Munich-based powerhouse.

No, it’s not a BMW M4 road car or even the BMW M4 GT3. It’s something fiercer.

The BMW M4 Class1 is a depiction of what a more hardcore M4 racing car could be. ‘Class1’ referring to something akin to the current Super GT rules in Japan.

 

So, there’s an aggressive aero set-up, including a gooseneck rear wing, a six-speed paddle-operated gearbox and a front-mid mounted four-cylinder 2-litre turbocharged engine, the power of which is translated onto the road via four sticky, slick, Hankook tyres.

This car means business. With the purposeful design of the current M4 working in harmony alongside a bevy of aerodynamic aids and yellow-tinted headlines like a 1980s Parisian taxi. When one powers up behind you into your rear-view mirror, it’s hard not to be bullied off the road.

It’s unadulterated aggression, which translates into the driving experience too.

Out of the box, the gear ratios are shorter than a Hobbit, the torque loves to spin up the rear wheels and the engine loves to rev higher than you may expect. You need to wring its neck to get the most from it.

 

You need to treat it with a unique mix of respect and violence. Respect when you are accelerating out of tight corners, unless you want to spin, and violence to make the most of the downforce through the quick sections.

That’s before we get on to the drag reduction system (DRS), which opens a flap in the rear wing and thus allows air to pass through. With this engaged, your speed down the straight will increase, but if you even think about using it through even a slight corner, you’ll be spinning quicker than a fairground Waltzer.

In one word: savage.

As a sim racer, isn’t that what you’re looking for? A new challenge, something to stick your teeth into. This is a car that you will have to learn, tweak the set-up of and understand its idiosyncrasies. When you do master it, the success is so much sweeter.

Especially if you’re mastering it around Lombardy’s premier racing venue.

 

Steeped in history that I’m sure you’re already well versed in, I’m going to avoid all the stereotypes relating to red cars, rabid fans and pasta. But, as soon as you visit Italy, you realise that these tropes exist for a reason – the country is car mad.

Thanks to the crazed Tifosi and storied history, Monza is seen in many racing video games and simulations. But, somehow, I never get bored of it.

The layout is very basic. Some long straights, three chicane and only three ‘proper’ corners. The asphalt is littered with those annoying sausage kerbs too, which on any Hermann Tilke designed circuit would wind me up something chronic. But somehow, because Monza, because history, because Italy, they are part of the charm here.

Nicking one with just the right balance of tyre to make the car wobble but not crash is more satisfying than a whole bar of Dairy Milk.

 

That highlights why it works so well within rFactor 2.

Racing drivers and far-too-serious sim racers are always talking about 'The Feeling' as if it’s some kind of Marvel superhero.

“Oh, I struggled with ‘The Feeling’ today” they will say post-race, or “I just don’t think ‘The Feeling’ is correct” when they talk about playing with a gamepad in lieu of a wheel peripheral.

‘The Feeling’ has become almost mythical. Something allusive to chase after. Part of virtual racing parlance.

Really, I think what they are trying to say is that the combination of graphics, sound, motion and force feedback that creates the sensation of driving isn’t matching expectations.

 

But trust me when I say that clipping an apex atop of a Monza kerb in rFactor 2, especially when using the BMW M4 Class1, is right up there as one of the very best racing sensations. You may have done a million laps of the venue in other racing titles, but very few have ‘felt’ quite so accurate.

If you’d like to experience this combination for yourself, the BMW M4 CLass1 is available now for free. Monza is a €8.99/£7.72/$10.72 add-on and is also available right away.

shares
comments

Related video

Next Level Racing GT Track cockpit review

Previous article

Next Level Racing GT Track cockpit review

Next article

Keithley and Lohner first 2021 ADAC GT Masters Esports double winners

Keithley and Lohner first 2021 ADAC GT Masters Esports double winners
Load comments
Analysis: How an unlikely tie-up won sim racing's biggest race Plus

Analysis: How an unlikely tie-up won sim racing's biggest race

An unlikely partnership between LMP1 privateer Rebellion Racing and Williams Formula 1's successful sim racing team yielded victory in the inaugural 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual. Here's how it triumphed in the biggest sim race ever staged

Esports
Jun 15, 2020
How poor driving standards ruined IndyCar's golden opportunity Plus

How poor driving standards ruined IndyCar's golden opportunity

The chaotic end to the virtual Indy 175 might be dismissed as "just a game," but the insulting actions of two IndyCar stars may have serious real-life consequences

Esports
May 3, 2020
Why Leclerc's Virtual GP annihilation deserves great credit Plus

Why Leclerc's Virtual GP annihilation deserves great credit

The introduction of Charles Leclerc, Alex Albon, George Russell and Antonio Giovinazzi to Formula 1's Virtual GP last weekend meant it was a step above the franchise's debut two weeks ago. But a dominant performance from Esports newcomer Leclerc stole the show

Esports
Apr 6, 2020
How the hidden side of being fast has been exposed Plus

How the hidden side of being fast has been exposed

'Natural talent' is one of the biggest misnomers going in motorsport, and that is being proven by the way real life racers aren't immediately getting on the pace with the sim racing experts in virtual contests. To change that, they are having to apply the same tools required to be quick in real life

Esports
Apr 2, 2020
Why F1’s pantomime Virtual GP is fun but unsustainable Plus

Why F1’s pantomime Virtual GP is fun but unsustainable

F1 Esports' inaugural Virtual Grand Prix last weekend provided brilliant entertainment to those tuning in to watch a mix of F1 drivers and celebrities battle on track, but was a missed opportunity for marketing its own Esports stars. A change of approach is needed if it is to successfully fill the void until the resumption of proper racing

Esports
Mar 24, 2020
The latest Red Bull exile to return in Esports Plus

The latest Red Bull exile to return in Esports

Since he was ejected from the programme at the end of 2006, the latest Red Bull junior driver brought back into the fold to race in Formula 1 - in a virtual sense for the inaugural Virtual GP - has had quite the career journey. From ADAC GT Masters and Porsche Supercup to Le Mans and the DTM, here's how a works pro got to relive a long-forgotten dream

Esports
Mar 24, 2020
Mercedes can be toppled in F1's other title race Plus

Mercedes can be toppled in F1's other title race

Mercedes has not only set new standards in Formula 1, but it's also created a benchmark in Esports. Now its rivals have scrambled to catch up, there's a chance the Brendon Leigh-fronted Mercedes can be stopped

Esports
Sep 10, 2019
Why World's Fastest Gamer is returning to real-world racing Plus

Why World's Fastest Gamer is returning to real-world racing

World's Fastest Gamer is a spiritual successor to the famous GT Academy. After a successful first year, it's returning to the Nissan programme's roots by targeting the real world of racing

Esports
Jul 31, 2019