It seems like just yesterday, but in fact is was just a little over five years ago that BMW first rolled its M6 GT3 race car out for its first demonstration laps. In that time a lot has changed in the GT3 landscape, and BMW has been struggling to keep up, considering its car is one of the largest in the field (discounting the Bentleys and Nissan GT-Rs). The former Bimmer GT3 is dead, so say hello to the new M4 GT3 race car.
Here in North America, the lone M6 GT3 effort of Turner Motorsport has managed to net six wins from five seasons and a further eight podium places. The field is large and the cost to compete is ballooning beyond the norm. In a recent discussion with a GT3-entered privateer, I learned that the cost to run a season of competition has expanded from around $500,000 in 2015 to over $1.2 million in 2020. As speed increases, so to do the bills.
So, BMW has decided to ditch the large and difficult to performance balance M6 in favor of the more compact M4 with a shorter wheelbase. BMW driver Augusto Farfus took the M4 GT3 on its maiden voyage this weekend, completing some functionality tests at Dingolfing. This new racer won’t be properly fielded until the 2022 season of racing, says BMW. To which I say “What the fuck?”
“It was fantastic and a great honour for me to be able to drive the first few metres in the new BMW M4 GT3,” said Farfus after the rollout. “I have been involved in the development of several BMW race cars and am always particularly pleased to be a part of such an important project. Although our main job during the rollout is to perform functional tests, I had a good feeling in the car from the outset and am already looking forward to the tests scheduled for the coming months.”
This exceedingly weird twitter exchange seems to all but confirm that Turner Motorsport will continue to run the new BMW in its traditional yellow and blue livery. It’s good news that the new car will indeed make its way back into the IMSA GTD category, but to start testing the car now and not run the car in 6 months for the 2021 season seems imprudent?
Well anyway, the new car looks pretty cool in these official factory photos where BMW declines to show us the whole thing. Or tell us any of the specifications. Or give any indication of what powers the damn thing.
It’s great to see that BMW is returning to racing its M3/4 series again. Following the death of the E9X generation GT2 race car in 2012, the company’s most well-known sports car motorsport lineage ended. The M4 nameplate has been used in DTM since then, but sports car racing duties fell to the Z4, then the M6, then the M8. A return to form is exactly what BMW needs to continue building its motorsport heritage long into the future.
I, for one, welcome our new M4 overlords.