The new BMW M4 GT3 “ran like clockwork” on its competition debut in Saturday’s NLS round at the Nürburgring, according to head of BMW M Motorsport Mike Krack.
This was despite Augusto Farfus and Philipp Eng’s car being classified as a retirement at the end of the ADAC Ruhr Cup six-hour race after it ran out of fuel just before the finish.
According to BMW, running the fuel tank down to empty was “part of the planning”.
The No. 55 BMW was circulating in 10th overall when it rolled to a halt at pit entry on the final lap, having progressed from 17th on the grid.
Farfus and Eng were giving the new M4 GT3 its maiden race outing as part of the car’s development program ahead of a global customer team rollout starting next year.
The vehicle’s debut as a non-homologated SPX-class entry had been delayed by nine weeks, after damage from a crash during practice for the last NLS round in June prevented Sheldon van der Linde and Jens Klingmann from making the grid.
“Our new BMW M4 GT3 enjoyed a successful race debut,” reflected Krack.
“The car ran like clockwork and we had no problems at all during testing or in qualifying and the race.
“Augusto and Philipp were delighted with the performance of the BMW M4 GT3 and confirmed how great the BMW M4 GT3 drives on the Nordschleife. Overall, we are very pleased with this NLS Saturday.”
The BMW M4 GT3, which will replace the current M6 GT3 model, had previously visited the Nürburgring Nordschleife as one of the stops on an extensive testing tour.
Both Farfus and Eng were pleased with how the car performed on its own and in the mixed traffic of the NLS field which includes several classes for cars slower than GT3.
Farfus took six places in the first stint before Eng came on board for a pair of eight-lappers. Farfus then returned to the cockpit for the run towards the closing stages.
“It was a very emotional day because I remember my first rollout in Dingolfing and after so many months, we come to the Nordschleife and I did the first race start with the new BMW M4 GT3,” said Farfus.
“It was just great. Thanks to BMW who did an amazing job, the car ran trouble-free.
“We could experience and measure the speed of the car against the competition so it was a great lesson today. The car feels very, very good and I can’t wait to be back at the Nordschleife with the car.”
Eng added: “That was so much fun. It was an honor for me to complete the debut race for the BMW M4 GT3 together with Augusto.
“The car drives extremely well. If you compare it with the BMW M6 GT3, it is even easier to drive but the performance is even better.
“The Nordschleife was a busy place again today and I had a few situations with other cars but it helped that you can overtake off-line with the BMW M4 GT3 too, without getting yourself into trouble right away. Overall, I feel that it went great.
“The race was smooth and I would be happy to start the 24-hour race with this car right away.”
The BMW M4 GT3 is expected to make its customer race debut in January, following orders from teams including American outfits ST Racing and RHC Jorgensen/Strom which are hoping to run the car in the Hankook 24 Hours of Dubai.
Manthey Porsche Wins from BMW Junior Team
Kevin Estre and Michael Christensen won Saturday’s six-hour NLS race driving a Manthey Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R.
The Nürburgring 24 winners ended a three-race NLS win streak for BMW by beating the Junior Team trio of Max Hesse, Dan Harper and Neil Verhagen by 19.6 seconds.
Estre was one of two drivers to make a lightning start, as the Frenchman surged from sixth to second behind Mattia Drudi who muscled his Pro-Am Car Collection Motorsport Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo past the two Falken Motorsports Porsches at the first corner.
Drudi led the opening laps from Estre, who briefly lost two positions to Walkenhorst’s David Pittard and GetSpeed Performance’s Moritz Kranz on the Dottinger Hohe straight before reclaiming them early in the Grand Prix section.
The Porsche factory driver then reduced Drudi’s lead and drafted past the Italian after 25 minutes.
Falken’s No. 3 Porsche emerged in front after the first round of pit stops, but Estre managed to reel in and pass Dennis Olsen with a similar move on the Dottinger Hohe.
Christensen took the reins of the Manthey Porsche at the car’s second pit stop and maintained the lead throughout his middle double stint, while Estre’s trouble-free double at the end of the race secured the No. 911 car’s second victory of the NLS season.
The BMW Junior Team took second after drawing clear of the other podium challengers including the Falken Porsches and Phoenix Racing’s No. 5 Audi.
Porsches ended up taking four of the top-five positions as the Falken pairings of Alessio Picariello/Martin Ragginger and Olsen/Tobias Mueller took third and fourth, ahead of the Pirelli-shod Dinamic Motorsport car shared by Matteo Cairoli and Romain Dumas.
The Phoenix Audi was eliminated from the battle when Frank Stippler rotated hard into the left-side barriers along the Dottinger Hohe after contact with another car.
RESULTS: ADAC Ruhr Cup