BMW’s M4 GT3 is slated to make its competition debut in the Nürburgring Langstrecken Serie this summer with additional test races planned in other series, including Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS competition later in the year.
The new-for-2022 GT3 contender, which broke cover last year, has continued an extensive testing and development program and is fresh off a 30-hour endurance test at Almeria in Spain last week with Martin Tomczyk , Jens Klingmann and Nick Yelloly.
Fellow factory drivers Augusto Farfus and Phillip Eng have also gotten extensive mileage in the twin-turbo straight-six-powered BMW, which has completed more than 12,000 kms in testing so far.
According to Mike Krack, the head of race and test engineering for BMW Motorsport, the car is in the “final stages” of development, with production slated to begin in a “couple of months.”
“It’s an exciting and really good car,” Krack told Sportscar365. “We always have a reference car — the M6 — on-site so we don’t get into the trap of making false comparisons or get misled.
“There are still issues to solve but that’s why you go testing.
“With this endurance test, we found issues we didn’t have before. But we’ve developed a lot of cars in the past. It’s normal. There’s no panic.”
Krack said the current plan is to give the car its debut in the fourth round of the NLS season, the Adenauer ADAC Rundstrecken-Trophy on June 26, the first race after the Nürburgring 24.
This would be to provide as much time to work on tire development ahead of the 24-hour enduro next year.
The car would run in the SPX class for un-homologated machinery.
“Nürburgring is one important part because of the tire regulations,” Krack explained. “If we want to have competitive tires in 2022, we have to do some tire testing at the Nürburgring in 2021.
“You cannot just go and rent the Nordschleife for a week.
“Also because you run so much off-line, we need to be robust against marbles and debris, and there’s no better test than going racing on the Nordschleife.
“The plan is to go there after the [Nürburgring] 24.”
Additional test races are planned, including a GTWC Europe outing later in the year.
“We have to a SRO race because otherwise we cannot have a [BoP] for Bathurst [in 2022],” he explained. “We’re targeting to do a GT World Challenge race, possibly Nürburgring, but we don’t know yet.
“Before we’d have to wait until 2023 to go to Bathurst but if you want to do the Intercontinental GT Challenge you have to be in Bathurst. And if you have a new car, you have to show it from the first day.
“You cannot have Bathurst 2022 and the M4 isn’t there.”
Krack said they expect to begin customer deliveries in the fall of this year and will prioritize cars to teams taking part in early-year events such as the 24-hour races in Dubai and Daytona, as well as the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour.
“Our normal customers in GT4 and GT3 are very interested in the car but there’s also some inquiries from others,” he said.
“We’re happy to try and bring more cars than we had with the M6.
“I think the [increased] interest comes from the fact that there are new rules. It’s one of the first cars built to the new rules. Everything that is new is always interesting [for customers].”
“Certain Amount of Fortune” in Timing of M4 GT3 Customer Rollout
Krack said the timing for the debut of the M4 GT3 — coming in the launch year of the new regulations — was partially good planning and good luck.
“There’s a certain amount of fortune that the rules came when the homologation cycle of the M6 finishes at [the end of this year],” he said.
“You do strategic planning but [if] the FIA decided to bring the rules in 2023, then we’d have a problem.
“I would be lying to say it’s our strategic masterpiece. But it all came together.”
When asked if the new regulations work as a good fit for the M4, Krack said they’ve had plenty of experience adapting BMW’s line of production cars to the GT3 and GTE rules in past years.
“At BMW we don’t have super sports cars as a baseline,” he said. “The amount of modifications that we have to do to cars is substantial. This you can only do in dialogue with the FIA.
“With our base cars it’s been slightly more complicated to [make] a competitive GT car out of it. But we’re used to it. The M8 is a big car; the M6 was a huge car.
“From that point of view it works.”