BMW M Motorsport has called off today’s planned race debut of the new BMW M4 GT3 after the car experienced a crash in practice at the Nürburgring Nordschleife on Friday.
A “technical issue” in the closing stages of the evening session caused the M4 driven by Sheldon van der Linde to leave the track and incur damage that resulted in overnight repairs.
The German manufacturer declared on Saturday morning that it would not be taking part in the four-hour NLS race, which was to be the first for the non-homologated car before its global customer rollout in GT3 next year.
BMW took the M4 GT3 to the TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa official test days on Tuesday and Wednesday, before turning its attention to the Nürburgring where it planned to gather mileage in race conditions.
The car was due to compete in the SP-X category for vehicles without a homologation.
“It is a great shame that our test week with the BMW M4 GT3, which had been very successful up until that point, ended prematurely – and that we have had to postpone the car’s race debut, to which we were all very much looking forward,” said BMW M Motorsport boss Mike Krack.
“The impact caused damage to the car and so we decided to withdraw from the NLS race on Saturday.
“We did not take this decision lightly. However, our priority now is to find out exactly what caused the crash.
“It is not uncommon to have a technical issue in the development phase of a new car.
“That is precisely what these intensive tests are for: to identify potential weaknesses during the development phase, and to eliminate these for the future. That is what we will do now.”
BMW tested the M4 GT3 at the Nordschleife in April prior to its now-postponed race debut at the German track. An alternative maiden competition outing for the car has not been announced, although there are five other NLS races on the 2021 schedule.
Sheldon van der Linde was due to team up with fellow factory driver Jens Klingmann in Saturday’s event.
“Friday was our second outing with the BMW M4 GT3 on the Nordschleife, and I felt very comfortable in the car from the first lap,” said Klingmann.
“It definitely confirmed the positive impression I got last time, and the further development since then has certainly made the car even better. Clear progress has been made with the BMW M4 GT3 in the sections, in which the BMW M6 GT3 was weaker.
“At the same time, it has retained the strengths of the M6. I am feeling very positive: the car feels good and gives you a lot of confidence from the first lap.”
The grid for the Adenauer Trophy race, which gets underway at 12 p.m. CEST, includes a 16-car entry in the top SP9 category for GT3 cars.
Among the teams taking part is Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS Endurance Cup front-runner and reigning 6 Hours of the Nürburgring winner Dinamic Motorsport, which is making its Nordschleife debut with a Porsche 911 GT3 R.
The first NLS round since the Nürburgring 24 earlier this month has a smaller top-level grid than usual, with a handful of notable SP9 teams including Manthey Racing, Falken Motorsports, Octane 126 and Haupt Racing Team opting to skip the race.