The new M4 GT3 set the fastest lap time in the June 21–22 SRO test days for the 24 Hours of Spa. After Spa, the team moved to the Nürburgring for more testing and a race debut in the NLS enduro, but a practice accident kept it out of the race.
Nick Yelloly, Augusto Farfus, and Marco Wittmann drove the car at Spa, where it was able to run in both wet and dry conditions. Yelloly, who set the fastest lap, said “We did a lot of driving in the rain on day one, while the second day was dry. That gave us the opportunity to complete a lot of laps with the BMW M4 GT3 in all conditions. The car felt fantastic, ran like clockwork, and the balance is outstanding. We completed a lot of test work in a wide range of areas at Spa-Francorchamps. The fact that we set the fastest time was obviously a nice bonus.”
After the Spa test, the car was taken to the Nürburgring for further testing and a race debut in the four-hour NLS race on June 26. Jens Klingmann and Sheldon van der Linde drove the car at the Ring. All was going well on Friday until an unspecified technical issue led van der Linde to lose control and crash into a barrier. As a result of the incident BMW, elected not to run the race.
BMW M Motorsport manager Mike Crack said, “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. 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.”
Klingmann said, “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. 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.”—Brian Morgan
[Photo courtesy BMW Motorsport.]