This weekend’s Rolex 24 at Daytona marks the competition debuts for both the BMW M6 GTLM and GT3 cars, marking the start of a new chapter for the German manufacturer with the twin-turbocharged sports sedan in GT competition.
Sportscar365 caught up with BMW Motorsport Director Jens Marquardt to discuss his expectations for Daytona, customer sales of the M6 GT3, as well as the possibility of a future BMW Garage 56 entry at Le Mans.
What are BMW’s targets this weekend at Daytona with the new cars?
“I think we’ve developed a very good package. We’ve proven what we could do with reliability to our content. I think the performance level has been good as well.
“All of the ingredients are there. It’s now a question of 24 hours of staying clean, working on not being unreliable, drivers-wise doing the right decisions at the right time, team-wise doing the right strategy.
“As we all know, it’s a 23-hour race to get through and then an hour to be there for. That’s what we’ll aim for and see where we get to.
“Preparation wise, I think we’ve done everything we could. Always, you could have done with one more test, five more tests or whatever. But race day is on Saturday and we’ll give it our best shot.”
Can you learn a lot from the M6 GTLM and have it translate into the M6 GT3?
“Obviously as we have a special [IMSA] GTLM homologation and not a GTE homologation, the reason behind is that we’ve done a car that’s very closely derived from the GT3 car. So the commonality is pretty big.
“They are both brand-new cars so we will definitely learn from every single lap. Every single test we’ve done, one has benefitted the other.”
Where do customer sales of the BMW M6 GT3 currently stand?
“We’re definitely pleased. We’re basically sold out, so all cars that we produce are sold. Obviously Turner has received the first two cars because [Daytona] is the first big event.
“The rest are, at the moment, being delivered back in Europe. We’ve managed also to spread the cars, more or less, all over the world. Cars are going to Japan, to Asia and we’ve even managed to cover Australia for the first time.
“We’re extremely pleased with the reception and pleased that we are achieving all of our targets that we have set to ourselves with the customer car in regards to cost-efficiency as well as performance.”
How many M6 GT3 cars have been sold?
“I think we’re now up to 24. That was the target we had and the production for the season.
“We’ll continue our plan but delivering cars within a season is always a difficult thing. I think we’ll stay in touch with our customers ad see how we plan everything.
“We’ve achieved the target and are now focused on supporting them and giving them the best we can in that respect as well, so that those first customers are happy customers.”
Is there a chance of seeing more customers in the U.S., whether it be IMSA or Pirelli World Challenge?
“With regards to the programs the customers have, it’s fully up to them. Whoever wants to join here, there’s obviously great platforms. We’ll support them. But really it’s in the customer’s hands.”
Does the SRO’s new Intercontinental GT Challenge interest BMW?
“It’s something that’s in the hands of our customers. If we have someone that wants to run there, we’re interested in that and we’ll support that.
“But we pick the two single events [24H Spa, Nurburgring 24] rather than a championship as [our programs] are customer-based.
“Even for Nurburgring and for Spa, we limit our support to putting our drivers there and giving some engineering support because at the end of the day, it’s customer racing and we’d like to keep it that way.”
Is that the same case for the FIA GT World Cup?
“Yes. But we have to see how the season goes. But obviously GT3 racing is customer racing and we think it’s important to support customers in that respect instead of making it a manufacturer’s platform.”
Where does BMW stand in regards to a possible Garage 56 entry at Le Mans?
“Everything is always on our radar because we need to see where the future goes. We’re celebrating 100 years of BMW but we’re focusing on the next 100 years.
“So we’re focusing on the future and for sure we’re in close contact with everybody at the FIA and ACO in regards to rules and technology for the future.
“We’ll just keep monitoring and figuring out where we fit best with our programs. Currently we’re really happy we have this M6 launched here for the two classes and that’s our focus.
“We’ll figure out everything else after Sunday.”