Despite having faced a challenging inaugural season of TUDOR United SportsCar Championship competition, BMW is planning a return to the GT Le Mans ranks in 2015 with the Z4 GTE car.
“At the moment, that’s the plan,” BMW Motorsport director Jens Marquardt told Sportscar365. “We’re obviously focused on ending the season on a high note, even if it’s very difficult.
“During the off-season we’ll look at everything regarding drivers, setup, etc. In the end, we’ve done quite a good job this year with the package we’ve had. So we’ll have a look at make a [final] decision over the winter.”
The German manufacturer heads into this weekend’s season-ending Petit Le Mans powered by Mazda still searching for its first GTLM class victory of the year, although with an outside, mathematical chance of the drivers, teams and manufacturers’ championships.
While Bill Auberlen and Andy Priaulx sit 4th in the championship, with BMW Team RLL teammates Dirk Mueller and John Edwards one point behind in 5th, the pair of factory Z4s have battled Balance of Performance issues all season, according to Marquardt.
“We have a constant dialogue with [IMSA] and are sharing a lot of our data with them and are trying to be really open and transparent,” he said.
“To us, that’s always worked in all the championships we’re running in. We’re trying to be that open and in a constructive dialogue with the authorities and the rules makers.
“It looks like here this year, somehow other people got better packages together. On what that is based is somehow, for me, not really understandable.
“If you have a package that is already very competitive and you get an increase in engine performance and you’re balancing that with more downforce, you’re just making that package quicker.”
IMSA gave the Z4 GTE a 0.4 mm larger air restrictor for COTA but the GTLM class car was handed with a 25 kg weight increase, which Marquardt said counter-reacted the power increase.
Marquardt, however, is hopeful IMSA will make the necessary changes in the BoP to tighten up the class-wide performance gap for the start of next year, which will be the Z4’s third and final season in factory competition.
“We still feel this platform here [in the TUDOR Championship] is a fantastic premium platform,” he said. “We would love to continue our campaign here but obviously we need to have competitive packages because we want to be in position to be able to win.
“We’ve got some work to do on the technical side, which we do every year. But at the same time, there’s a part that’s not in our hands that needs to be brought into a better and more balanced situation overall.”
Marquardt denied rumors of a new M6-based model being rolled out in the TUDOR Championship next year, although work is already underway for a successor to the Z4 for both the GTE and GT3 platforms in 2016.
“As we had committed to the Z4 through 2015, we’re definitely looking at a successor of the Z4 for 2016,” he said.
“With regards to regulations and GT Convergence, we’re still intensively working on the options but we’re not in a position to communicate what it will be. We’re not clear what the regs will be.”
He said they will likely have a better picture of the 2016 platform by early next year, while BMW’s global 2015 program will be formalized in the coming months and will be announced at the annual Sports Trophy event in Munich in early December.