While Ford has debuted its new Shelby GT350R-C this past weekend at Watkins Glen International and Chevrolet has launched the new 2016 Camaro in May, although with no race plans as yet to replace the Z/28.R, BMW looks set to remain status quo with its current product lineup in the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge.
One of the talking points in the paddock this weekend was that GS has the potential to turn into an arms race between the two American giants with their new models.
However, BMW looks set to leave any potential new cars firmly in the hands of its customer teams, according to Victor Leleu, the new manager of BMW North America Motorsport.
Rumors had swirled of an M3 replacement late last year, but there’s been no outward movement from any teams as yet this year.
“Those were private efforts, decided and entirely handled by private teams with so no direct involvement of BMW North America or BMW Motorsport in a development program,” Leleu told Sportscar365.
“Whether a replacement car to the M3 arises in GS is not in our hands.
“However, BMW has been a very important player in the Continental series for years. We’ve had some great success. We want to continue to be represented in the Continental series. We try to provide support to encourage such efforts.”
BMW has contingency programs in place for support, and Leleu expects those to continue for as long as BMW is represented in the championship.
One car that on paper would seem to be a potential entry into the Continental Tire Challenge’s ST class would be the new BMW M235i.
The BMW M235i Racing, along with the new M6 GT3, was featured at the BMW North America display this weekend. It marked both cars’ public debut in North America.
However, Leleu dismissed the car moving into ST – potentially as either a 1-Series or 3-Series replacement – because of the modifications that would be required.
“I think the way we look at the M235 Racing, at this point, is as a track day car,” Leleu said. “It’s also a way for us to start our customer racing operations in the U.S., which is still fairly new to us.
“The way the car has been spec’d doesn’t fit in any of the Continental Tire series rules, either ST or GS, and the effort required to get into either of those categories seems too big to really happen.
“The car’s definition has taken certain liberties, let’s just say. So to consider ST, fitting back in it there seems really complicated.”
BMW scored its first GS class podium of the year last weekend with Trent Hindman and Ashley Freiberg finishing second in the No. 46 Fall-Line Motorsports BMW M3.
The manufacturer has one ST podium this year as well, as David Murry and Ted Giovanis finished third in the No. 64 Team TGM BMW 328i at Daytona.