Nobody really expected the new M4 GT3 to be contending for a win in the 2022 Rolex 24 at Daytona. The car has been through extensive testing over the last year and had already been through one 24-hour race in Dubai in January, but it’s still a new race car. As Augusto Farfus said before the Rolex 24 in a Sportscar365 interview: “When you have a new car, you come here and are leaning how to get the car going. We do this because we want to win, but we also have to be realistic. There is a maturation period where you must learn and accept things. You cannot buy experience with the car.”
The 2022 Rolex 24 at Daytona will have to be chalked up as a learning experience for BMW Team RLL and Turner Motorsport as they look ahead to the toughest endurance race of the year in mid-March, the 12 Hours of Sebring. All three of the M4 GT3s were off the pace from the time they arrived at Daytona, and they didn’t perform well in the 100-minute qualifying race the week before the actual race, which determined the starting grid. The pair of BMW Team RLL M4 GT3s started the race in twelfth and thirteenth out of thirteen cars in the GTD Pro class, and the #96 Turner Motorsport car started in twentieth in GTD after being involved in an accident in the qualifying race.
A lot can happen in a 24-hour race, and you can make up for a lack of pace with strategy and pit stop performance, but all three M4 GT3s suffered with issues and accidents in the race as well. Both BMW Team RLL cars had issues with the rear diffuser coming loose, which cost time early on in the pits, ensuring they were never a factor. The Turner Motorsport M4 GT3 had good pace and managed to get into the top five before an accident in the overnight hours led to retirement of the car.
“That was a tough race,” said Mike Krack, Head of BMW M Motorsport (who was attending his last race with BMW before heading to the Aston Martin Formula 1 team). “We wanted to keep the number of mistakes to a minimum and, if possible, to get all the BMW M4 GT3s through the race without any incidents. Unfortunately, we did not quite manage that. The GTD car run by Turner Motorsport was unable to finish the race after contact, and both of BMW M Team RLL’s cars encountered problems and ended the race in seventh and ninth place. Although we did a lot of test kilometres during the development phase, this showed that an outing under race conditions poses additional challenges.”
With roughly six weeks to go before the cars race at Sebring, both BMW teams have a lot of work to get ready, as Sebring is a much tougher race and harder on the cars than Daytona. The BoP will also play a major factor in the pace of the BMWs, as IMSA typically adjusts BoP separately for Daytona and Sebring, since the tracks are so much different.
Aside from the poor showing from the BMWs, the GTD Pro race at Daytona ended up being one of the best battles in recent memory, as two Porsches with factory drivers went at it hammer and tongs in the final hour of the race, trading paint and dicing with each other as if their careers depended on the outcome. The Pfaff Motorsport Porsche (which won the GTD class championship last year) ended up being the victor with Mathieu Jaminet at the wheel. It’s worth watching the last hour when the replay shows up on YouTube. The GTD class was also won by Porsche, with the Wright Motorsport team getting the victory.—David Haueter
[Photos courtesy Jon Van Woerden.]