BMW Motorsport continues to move forward with preparing for the 2022 season and the racing debut of the new M4 GT3. The car will race at Sebring on the weekend of November 11–12 for testing purposes, with the first official races coming up in the 24-hour race in Dubai in mid-January, followed by the Rolex 24 at Daytona in late January.
Potential buyers and drivers were recently invited to a test of the M4 GT3 at the Valencia circuit in Spain, with works drivers Augusto Farfus and Jens Klingmann on hand to provide briefings and instruction on the car. Both Farfus and Klingmann have been very involved in the development of the M4 GT3, with Farfus recently competing in the car in the GT World Challenge Endurance Cup finale at Barcelona.
The feedback from the teams and drivers at the Valencia test was very positive, and one of the team owners on hand that also got to drive the car was BMW racing icon Roberto Ravaglia. Ravaglia won multiple championships for BMW Motorsport with the legendary E30 M3 in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, and won the Nürburgring 24-hour race twice with BMW. He also competed in the BMW-powered McLaren F1 GTR at Le Mans in 1997.
Ravaglia ran the ROAL Motorsport racing team for many years with BMW in various European racing championships and is now the team manager of Ceccato Racing, an organization owned by Gianfranco Ceccato that competed this year in the Italian GT championship with both the M6 GT3 and the M4 GT4. The team will race the M4 GT3 next year after the M6 GT3 is retired, and Ravaglia was there to check it out. “Congratulations to BMW M Motorsport on the development of this car,” he said. “It was a fantastic experience being allowed to take it for a spin for a couple of laps. After my first few laps in the BMW M3 E30—the most successful touring car of all time—back in the 1980s, I could tell it was going to be a winning car. And I had the same feeling today. The BMW M4 GT3 is a winning car.”
Samantha Tan was also at Valencia to test the M4 GT3, as the Samantha Tan Racing team is set to field a two-car effort in the 24H series, with the first race coming up in Dubai in mid-January. It was her first time in a GT3 car and her first time at the Valencia circuit. “I definitely had to take a session to take everything in, how the car reacts to power, where the buttons were, etc.,” she said. “They set the traction control pretty high initially as a safety measure but we were allowed to play with it as the day went on. Coming from GT4, I am used to being a bit more progressive on throttle due to induced oversteer, however in GT3, you can just rely on the technology. You’re supposed to just turn in, get the car pointed and then full throttle out. I also wasn’t used to having downforce. The next session, I just threw the car into the corners until it started understeering and tried to be more aggressive on throttle. It was incredible how planted the car was on track.”
Tan is looking forward to getting to know the M4 GT3 better, and she’ll certainly get to know it well as they compete in the long endurance races in the 24H Series. “The car is incredible and a pleasure to drive,” she said. “I expected it to be difficult to adapt to, judging by the longer wheelbase and extra technology and buttons, but I actually picked it up quickly. There was much more visibility and the ergonomics were well thought out. The new traction control capabilities were amazing as I could adjust and fine tune them to my personal driving style. To say that I am very excited to hop back into the car would be an understatement. It is an absolutely beautiful piece of machinery and I’m beyond elated to call it my new office!”—David Haueter
[Photos courtesy BMW Motorsport, Samantha Tan Racing.]