BMW M has revealed the prototypes of the new M4 coupe and its GT3 sibling at the Red Bull Ring in the run to the MotoGP on Sunday. Both cars were in a camouflage design expressly created for the event, and still await their official unveiling. However, the latest showing does confirm that the motorsport variant will not diverge from the M4's controversial design - indeed, BMW appears to have doubled down on the effect by emblazoning the GT3's mega-grille in M-badge red.
The road-legal M4 sticks wisely to black. BMW's accompanying press release reiterates what we already know: the coupe will be made available in two variants, the lower priced option getting 480hp and a six speed manual, the Competition earning 510hp and an eight-speed M Steptronic. The covers are due to come off the production car next month.
The GT3 will begin racing in select events next year before it eventually replaces the outgoing M6 GT3 in 2022. Speaking at the event, Markus Flasch, CEO of BMW M GmbH, highlighted the synergy between road and track: "The BMW M4 Coupe and its motorsport counterpart BMW M4 GT3 are the icons of the BMW M GmbH and prime examples of the technology transfer from motorsport to series production - and back again. From the outset, both vehicles were developed parallel to each other, so they both have the same genes."
BMW will replace its M6 GT3 with a racing version of the upcoming M4 in 2021, and next week will see the all-new machine take to the track for the first time. Developed in tandem with the new M4 and M3, codenamed G82 and G80 respectively, the racer will get BMW’s S58 straight-six with a confirmed plus-500hp output – meaning that it will be on par with the recently announced Competition versions of the street machines, at least in terms of firepower.
Beyond the engine bay, however, the M4 GT3 will be substantially altered from the road cars. As we know from recent spy shots, the M4 is due with mostly predictable alterations to its chassis and design, but the GT3 car adds to that with enormous aero pieces on every corner. While we’re not shown the racer’s front end at this stage – so no comments can be made on its grille just yet – the rear shot from the car’s first roll out at Dingolfing shows the high-set rear wing and space for a diffuser.
BMW claims that the engine to power its racer is essentially unchanged from the road car’s, with the same characteristics set to be baked in into the M4 Competition. Although so far, with the first build only having just been completed – the project having suffered from the pandemic’s restrictions, just like everyone else – the GT3 has been restricted to basic function tests. The fast stuff starts next week at BMW Group’s test centre in Miramas, in the south of France.
“It is always an emotional moment when a newly-developed BMW race car takes to the track for the first time,” said BMW’s motorsport director, Jens Marquardt. “This time, however, I am particularly proud. Given the difficult conditions of the past few months, it is quite remarkable that we have managed to implement our development programme as planned, and whilst complying with the BMW Group’s strict safety and hygiene regulations throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, have managed to stick to the date originally envisaged for the rollout of the BMW M4 GT3.”
BMW’s racer is on course to make its competitive debut in 2021, but the season will be devoted to testing ahead of the car’s promotion as the successor of the M6 GT3 – itself a winning successor to the highly prized Z4 GT3 – in 2022. While low-speed functionality testing provides a glimpse of the potential performance of BMW’s new racing machine, Augusto Farfus – who races BMW’s M8 GTE in the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship – seemed optimistic.
He said: “It was fantastic and a great honour for me to be able to drive the first few metres in the new BMW M4 GT3. 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.”
1 / 10