BMW’s newly announced M4 GT4 could make its race debut prior to 2018, with Motorsport Director Jens Marquardt revealing the car may take part in a VLN race over the course of next year in preparation for a full customer rollout.
“We need to focus on giving customers at the early start in 2018 a very good and reliable race car. That’s the number one focus,” Marquardt told Sportscar365.
“But [a race debut] could be also done through our testing setup, like a VLN race or something.
“First the car has to run, then we have to go through the whole approval [process] and really thorough testing and signing off, and then we’ll decide when it’s ready to go.”
The car, developed by BMW Motorsport in Munich, is expected to begin on-track testing later this year, led by the same development team that put the new-for-2016 BMW M6 GT3 through its paces.
Marquardt said the reaction to the German manufacturer’s decision to build a new-generation GT4 car has been positive
“We’ve already had so many requests about it, that at the end of the day it’s good to see there is response,” he said. “It’s also good to see that there is more manufactures interested in that, because I think it’s a very good platform.
“It just shows, when we launched the 235, we had covered the entry level. The M6 [GT3] covers the top end, and for us at the moment there’s a bit of a vacuum that we want to fill.
“[We want] to have people go from an entry-level BMW driving experience to a 235 through a M4 GT4, to an M6 and really grow their skills as a racer together with the brand.
“That is something that we are very interested in and would like to offer. That’s what we will achieve at the end of next year and I’m really happy about it.”
With Pirelli World Challenge and the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge adopting full GT4 regulations beginning next year, the M4 GT4 will be BMW’s first officially supported car for both classes, after multiple previous self-built variants from customers.
“It was good news for us to understand that IMSA as well as Pirelli World Challenge are going for GT4 also as a class included in their programs,” Marquardt said.
“It’s something that can be run in Europe, in the U.S., in Asia. Again, you do a development once, and then you can sell it to customers all over the world.
“It’s a very efficient way to do things, and therefore we give full support.”
Marquardt said he expects the M4 GT4 to make its formal race debut in the hands of customers at the 24 Hours of Dubai in 2018, followed by the Continental Tire Challenge season-opener at Daytona later that month.