Last month marked the end of the 2018 MotoGP season, which means BMW has been working with organizer Dorna Sports for twenty years now. Through those two decades, the partnership has yielded some incredibly cool safety cars, all of which have been specially prepared and built by BMW M, with various modifications in place.The cooperation produced its most potent unit yet this year with an F90 M5 Competition used as the underlying basis, but we would be remiss if we didn’t pay a bit of attention to revisiting some of the models that have graced the global circuits of MotoGP.
For the 2002 season, a specialized Z8 was used, with a permanently mounted hardtop, integrated roll cage and a rather large light bar fitted up top. Although not an M car per se like the others, the bespoke nature and striking, 507-influenced visuals of the Z8 are said to have made it a natural choice, along with its M drivetrain, which uses the E39 M5’s S62B50 V8 and Getrag six-speed.
2007 saw the introduction of a modified Z4 M coupe, which also sported a large, upright light bar mounted to the roof that is hard to miss. BMW specifically notes a sharp silhouette, compact dimensions and the high-revving S54 engines as innate qualifiers for the Z4 M coupe, and today the rare model along with its roadster stablemate remain highly sought after.
A 1M was released for the only model year they were available, 2011. Along with a wide stance and what’s referred to as outstanding on-track performance, other elements that made it a sound choice included a drivetrain that used a high-torque twin-turbocharged straight-six engine and a conventional six-speed manual, along with respectably low weight.
BMW’s current performance flagship debuted as a MotoGP safety car for its initial model year, 2015. It’s no ordinary M4 though, as it’s had almost the entire M Performance parts catalog thrown at it, while BMW M Motorsport stripes were used in their most recognizable layout yet. The M4 safety car is also technologically impressive beneath the skin, with an early version of the M4 GTS water-injected S55 engine providing motivation, while carbon ceramic brakes are also visible.
In 2016, the next year, the M2 replaced the M4. Also sporting what appears to be a nearly complete array of M Performance parts, large changes like the light bar and fixed wing seem to mirror the setup used on earlier cars like the M4 or 1M. The M2 took things a step further though, using large carbon ceramic brakes in place of the factory steel setup, while wheels are a staggered set of BMW M Performance style 763M’s wearing a frozen gold finish, which just became available through the M Performance parts offerings for the M2 Competition. Other parts like the roll cage and much more are finished in a matching color scheme.
For 2018, the new F90 M5 Competition replaced the previous F90 M5, the first M car to use xDrive. BMW says the design of the newest M5 safety car was based on that of the M8 GTE race car, while the interior benefits from bucket seats courtesy of the M4 GTS. M Performance parts make yet another appearance as well, in the form of various aero pieces and other modifications. Wheels continue the gold theme from before but in a much more reserved state, while brakes are carbon ceramic once again.
Check out the video below from the BMW M YouTube Channel for a closer look at each one.—Alex Tock
[Photos and video courtesy BMW AG.]