Augusto Farfus says BMW M Motorsport is “on the right path” with its development program for the new M4 GT3 following the car’s recent appearance at the TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa official test days.
Farfus, Marco Wittmann and Nick Yelloly all drove the upcoming M4 racer in its pre-homologation state on Tuesday and Wednesday, giving the vehicle its first run on a track shared with a field of cars from other manufacturers ahead of its global debut next year.
Yelloly ended up setting the fastest lap of the test outright on Wednesday, while Tuesday presented a rare opportunity for the M4 GT3 to undertake full-wet weather running.
Farfus completed most of the mileage on day one, and later described the test as a positive exercise before the car’s first race at the Nürburgring Nordschleife on Saturday.
“It was our first proper wet run with the M4,” Farfus told Sportscar365.
“We have been very lucky because most of our tests have been in good weather. We put the car on track and the feeling was very good. I was impressed and we are on the right path.
“I think the car is capable of winning races from the first weekend. Of course, there is the BoP: to draw conclusions after a test is not easy. But we went home with a smile on our faces and with validation that all of the work we have done over the last few months was correctly executed.
“Now comes the difficult part, because soon we are going to race with the car. When you go racing, there are a lot more issues to cover.
“But it gives us hope that the base car is very good and very drivable. That was our main target.”
He added: “The first time I drove the car at the Nordschleife, we had changing conditions. We decided to not really push because the Nordschleife is always a surprise pot.
“So we never really had a full day of wet like we had in Spa. It was important to validate the car in those conditions.”
Farfus explained that the most recent test saw BMW focus on Spa’s track-specific demands. It also gave a chance to check how certain features worked in wet conditions.
Across two days of running – which included several red flags due to incidents for other cars – the M4 GT3 completed 172 laps equating to just under 749 miles (1,205 km).
“It was more about fine-tuning things like the pit speed limiters, for instance,” said Farfus.
“It’s a small detail but at Spa you’re going downhill [on pit exit]. There are a lot of non-performance-related topics that have to be covered.
“Disengaging the pit speed limiter at the bottom [of Eau Rouge] and then going uphill, how the traction control helps you. Driving with new tires on the wet, ABS… we ticked all those boxes.
“On Tuesday we spent a lot of time fine-tuning the ABS, traction control, making sure the wipers were at the right speed.
“That’s also part of the car’s development: the screen heater needs to be un-fogging the whole window, no water coming through the cockpit. There is a lot of basic stuff that needs to be working in the rain and condensation.
“It was a mixture of performance testing and functionality testing, and I have to say it was literally only fine-tuning. We didn’t face any big problem, despite it being a special track.”
Spa Adds to Extensive Track Test Program
The BMW M4 GT3 is approaching the first anniversary of its initial rollout, which was completed by Farfus at the BMW Group Plant at Dingolfing last July.
Its attendance at Spa added to a long list of circuits visited during the pre-homologation test phase and led to Farfus declaring that the car is now “ready to race anywhere” due to the sheer variety of tracks it has tackled.
Miramas, Slovakiaring, Most, Almeria and the Nordschleife – where it is racing in the NLS this weekend – have been among the sites covered by the development program.
Farfus noted that the car’s initial prototype development assured him of its ability to run a long-distance race even in the early stages of the extensive track testing regime.
“I’ve been involved in all of the latest race cars from BMW and without going into detail, we had a different style of working [on the M4 GT3],” said the double Rolex 24 at Daytona class winner.
“We are a much smaller group of people around the car. There was a lot more interaction and we could be very effective. All of the changes we had to do were happening very quick and were straight to the point.
“We followed the test plan, despite corona, pretty closely. So we could very closely follow the targets we set. There was of course some problems, but if you ask me: already after three or four test sessions, the car could already be ready to race if you wanted.
“It’s normal when you do a project you build your first prototype. Then it comes together, then you realize different issues. After this first round on that car, we did I would say five, six or seven test days. We already started building the first ‘real’ M4 race car.
“Once that model was built, we could cover pretty much 90 percent of the issues we faced on the first prototype. And the car was almost ready to go for a 24-hour race.
“I think the M4 GT3 has been the best project I’ve been involved in during my 16 years of being involved with BMW.”