This weekend’s scheduled Hankook 24H of Sebring will serve as the “last tick” in the development of the BMW M4 GT3 prior to its full customer rollout according to Head of BMW M Motorsport Mike Krack.
The new-for-2022 GT3 contender is set for its first long-distance endurance race in Creventic’s around-the-clock event at Sebring International Raceway, in a joint effort run by BMW factory outfits RMG and RLL.
Bill Auberlen, Robby Foley, James Clay and two members of the BMW Junior Team — Neil Verhagen and Max Hesse — will drive the car in its maiden 24-hour race.
Krack explained that it was due to contest the Hankook 24H of Portimao in July, which was canceled and replaced with a 12-hour contest at the Hungaroring that didn’t fit in the German manufacturer’s schedule.
It has since run several Nürburgring Langstrecken-Serie races with the car as well as last month’s Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS Endurance Cup season finale at Barcelona, competing as an unclassified entrant.
“We see this as a test run in racing conditions,” Krack told Sportscar365. “We are really thankful that Creventic allows us to do this because it’s completely different if you test in a race environment or if you go [test] by yourself.
“You have marbles, you have running in traffic, you have contact, you have pit stops. It adds much more life than if you go just by yourself where the tension is a bit less.
“We are doing this also on the Nordschleife regularly towards the end of the season when it’s about tire testing for the year after; there’s nothing better than that.
“It’s not always possible to do it. We had the possibility with SRO [in GTWC Europe] which allowed us to do it. We again have Creventic that has allowed us to do it.
“It always comes with some [compromise] on what you are allowed to do but we have to respect everything these promoters want from us because they give us a unique opportunity.
“It’s a matter of working together.”
While having proven the durability in NLS rounds, Krack admitted Sebring will be a “quite tough” test for the M4 GT3 in its North American race debut.
“A four or six-hour at the Nordschleife is also quite tough. But yes, I think [Sebring] will be really hard,” he said. “It gives us the last tick we have to do.”
Members of Team RLL will get their first experience of the M4 GT3 ahead of its IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship campaign in GTD Pro next year.
Team co-owner Bobby Rahal told Sportscar365: “We’re there in support of RMG for obvious reasons. I’m glad we’re there. It’s not that far away where we’ll be at Daytona [for Rolex 24]. We really appreciate the way Mike has organized this so that we’re involved.
“Hopefully we get through Sebring in decent shape.
“Peugeot — when they didn’t even race in [IMSA] — they would go test at Sebring because if you could make it through 24 hours of Sebring you can go anywhere. It’s a good place to test for the reliability issues that may come up.”
While pushed back a day due to sea-freight shipping delays in the Atlantic Ocean, a Creventic spokesperson told Sportscar365 they are currently targeting to hold the race this Saturday-Sunday instead of the original Friday-Saturday schedule.
BMW “Very Happy” With Customer M4 GT3 Customer Sales
Krack said that he’s been pleased with the number of cars sold so far, which has surpassed initial sales of the M4’s predecessor, the M6 GT3.
“It looks very good,” he said. “At the same time we’re concerned because we need to support them [all]. I would not say I’m super nervous about it but it’s something that turns in my mind because you need to properly support the customers.
“This is very, very important. It’s not just about selling them. This is something we’ll have to be very careful with.
“I think it helps that this is the first car to the new rules. This is for sure helping [the appeal]. Also the car, it’s not only a marketing thing that we say it’s drivable. It’s much, much better for gentlemen drivers. It’s really the truth.
“Everybody who has driven it has confirmed this.
“We had a customer event after Barcelona at Valencia and people were super happy.
“We are happy with how this goes. But at the same time we keep in mind that it’s important that we look after them properly.”