BMW is “very likely to go in the area” of the M4 for its next GT3 race car, according to its motorsport director Jens Marquardt.
Sportscar365 reported back in February that BMW is working on a successor to the two-time Total 24 Hours of Spa-winning M6 GT3, but Marquardt wouldn’t specify which model was being considered.
The German manufacturer now appears to have narrowed its options, with the upcoming refresh of the M4 emerging as the preferred replacement.
“At the moment, we have the first draft of the regulations, which is obviously what is needed,” Marquardt told Sportscar365.
“It will be in place from 2022 onwards, so we are studying. The 6 Series is no longer available and I think the M8 is too big a car, so I would think that we would go smaller.
“The final decision is not yet there, but I think it would probably, very likely, go into the area of the new M4.”
BMW has been pushing for the next set of GT3 regulations to allow production platforms offering a four-door model, which would make the M4 and associated cars eligible.
The new 4 Series range will be based on BMW’s CLAR platform, currently the underpinnings for several of its models including the 3, 5, 7 and 8 Series, the new Z4 and Toyota Supra, and most of its X-range SUVs.
With the manufacturer ultimately aiming to base all of its cars on one of two platforms, building a GT3 car that doesn’t share a platform with a four-door model is near impossible.
Marquardt said that the rules change has been included on the draft regulations which are being moulded by FIA-held technical working group meetings in Geneva.
“ is when we aim to have the car available to our customers,” he said.
“We are in the late stages of the concept phase now, discussing with the FIA all our concepts to make sure that we don’t encounter problems that we encountered in the past with other models that we have developed.
“With the regulations, as they were done for now, we would not have been able to homologate our car because all our cars are based on platforms that are shared between various ranges.
“You basically have to use [common] platform and toolbox systems. I think you have to find a way to make those cars eligible, or you will only have small numbers of [GT3] cars [on the grid].”
Marquardt said that BMW is “very far away” from starting an on-track test schedule for its next GT3 contender.
“We are really more into the technical studies,” he confirmed.
“From our experience with the M8, you’re better off getting everything agreed preliminarily and discussed openly with the FIA, in that respect.
“We [need to] get everything sorted out in a conceptual state before we actually go into any hardware.
“The end of this year, beginning of next year, is probably when we want to have something rolling on four wheels.”
BMW Not Pursuing Identical GT3, GT4 Cars
Marquardt stressed that BMW plans to continue developing separate GT3 and GT4 platforms, going against recent business models employed by other OEMs such as Audi, Aston Martin and Mercedes-AMG.
While the M4 serves as the manufacturer’s current GT4 product, it will have been replaced by a new model by the time BMW’s next GT3 racer arrives.
When asked about having a convertible GT3/GT4 package, Marquardt said: “I don’t see how they should be linked together.
“I know some have done it like that, but you have to be really careful that you’re not creating a GT4 as a GT3-like car, which can be very expensive,” he explained.
“We all know that GT3 cars have become fairly expensive. I think GT4 should be much more affordable, and therefore I wouldn’t really tie them together.
“We will have to see what would then make sense for a GT4 successor. That could be based on the M4, but it could also be based on the M2. Powertrain-wise, they are very similar.
“I think we have to discuss with our colleagues from M, because those cars are very much supporting the sporty brand, and obviously we want to showcase that model range.”