The first competitive race for the new M4 GT3 took place this past weekend, in the 24H Dubai race in the United Arab Emirates. There were no M4 GT3s on the podium, but all three of them finished in a strong first outing in race conditions, and they even made it through a sandstorm on Sunday morning, as well as multiple caution periods.
ST Racing entered two M4 GT3s, with one in the top GT3 class and another in Pro-Am. A third M4 GT3 was entered by Schubert Motorsport. The #1 ST Racing M4 GT3 driven by Samantha Tan, Anthony Lazzaro, Bryson Morris, Harry Gottsacker, and Tyler Maxson had the best finish of all three, taking fifth-place in the Pro-Am class. The car was actually in position for a podium finish before a technical issue cost some laps.
The #28 ST Racing M4 GT3 finished in the top ten in the GT3 class with a ninth-place finish for drivers Jon Miller, Nick Wittmer, Chandler Hull, and Louis-Philippe Montour. The #30 Schubert Motorsport M4 GT3 driven by Nick Yelloly, Jordan Witt, Marcel Lenerz, and Jens Liebhauser also competed in the top class, but fell back early in the race after being hit by another car. The race was won overall by the Team WRT Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo.
Even though none of the M4 GT3s finished on the podium, the teams that ran it at Dubai were very encouraged. “The BMW M4 GT3 is potentially very competitive,” said ST Racing Team Principal Kenneth Tan. “We saw it in the early stages of the race; we were in the top five for quite a while and in the first half of the race we always were up in the overall top ten, so we know that the BMW M4 GT3 has the potential. At the moment, our car is still not there obviously. We just got the car straight from the factory and started working with it here at the track. We have a long list of things we want to do to develop it further for the next race at Mugello and I am very excited about that because I know where we can get this car to. It would have been nice to be on the podium but we always knew that it’s a new car and that there are so many unknowns at the beginning. We finished the race and that’s amazing. I am very happy.”
Some of the other BMW teams competing in other classes also had strong finishes at Dubai. The RHC Jorgensen-Strom by Century team reached third place in the GT4 class with the #450 BMW M4 GT4. The #429 M4 GT4 of Century Motorsport and the #451 M4 GT4 from Team AVIA Sorg Rennsport were right behind them in fourth and fifth. In the TCX category, the Cogemo/TLRT team finished second with the #255 BMW M2 CS Racing, followed by the #208 Yeeti Racing BMW M2 CS Racing in third.
The next event in the 24H Series is the twelve-hour race at Mugello in Italy, which is scheduled for late March.—David Haueter
[Photos courtesy BMW Motorsport.]