The new flagship from BMW M Motorsport has passed the endurance test in the desert. Following test races last season and successful FIA homologation, the 24H Dubai (UAE) from Friday to Saturday marked the first race appearance for the new BMW M4 GT3 in the hands of BMW M Motorsport teams. ST Racing and Schubert Motorsport competed with a total of three BMW M4 GT3s at the season-opener in the 24H Series. After 24 hours of racing featuring numerous Code 60 periods and a sandstorm on Saturday morning, all three cars reached the finish line on their racing debut.
ST Racing secured ninth place with the #28 BMW M4 GT3 in the top category, the GT3 class. The car was driven by Jon Miller (USA), Nick Wittmer (CAN), Louis-Philippe Montour (CAN) and Chandler Hull (USA). Schubert Motorsport suffered a setback early in the race when the #30 BMW M4 GT3 was damaged after contact from another competitor. The subsequent long repair break saw the #30 fall way back. After 24 hours, BMW M works driver Nick Yelloly (GBR), Jordan Witt (GBR), Marcel Lenerz (GER) and Jens Liebhauser (GER) crossed the line tenth in the GT3 class.
The #1 car from ST Racing, competing in the Pro-Am class, was the best-placed BMW M4 GT3 in the field for a large part of the race and was on course for a podium in its class. However, a technical problem then cost the car positions, although it was possible to carry out repairs. The #1, driven by Samantha Tan (CAN), Bryson Morris, Anthony Lazzaro, Harry Gottsacker and Tyler Maxson (all USA), then finished fifth in the Pro-Am class.
The next highlight for the BMW M4 GT3 is scheduled to take place in two weeks in North America. At the season-opener in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship (IMSA series), the legendary 24 Hours of Daytona (USA), BMW M Team RLL and Turner Motorsport will be competing with the new GT car.
BMW M Motorsport teams were also competing in Dubai with the BMW M4 GT4 and the BMW M2 CS Racing. They secured multiple podium finishes in their categories. The RHC Jorgensen-Strom by Century team reached third place on the rostrum with the #450 BMW M4 GT4 in the GT4 class. The #429 of Century Motorsport and the #451 from Team AVIA Sorg Rennsport were right behind in fourth and fifth positions. In the TCX category, Cogemo/TLRT finished second with the #255 BMW M2 CS Racing, ahead of Yeeti Racing with the #208 BMW M2 CS Racing in third position. Schubert Motorsport claimed sixth place in the same class with the #200 BMW M2 CS Racing.
Reactions to the 24H Dubai.
Achim Klein, BMW M Motorsport Project Lead BMW M4 GT3: “Those were some exciting days for us here in Dubai. The first official racing appearance for a new car is always something special, and even though the turbulent events during the race meant that the final results did not entirely meet our expectations, we can draw some positive conclusions. Two of the three competing BMW M4 GT3s were brought to Dubai straight from production, where they were received by the BMW M Motorsport teams. We also gathered plenty of valuable knowledge in Dubai, which will help us as we continue to work on the new car in its debut season. ST Racing and Schubert Motorsport provided crucial input for this. Now we are looking forward to the next highlight with the new BMW M4 GT3, the 24 Hours of Daytona in two weeks.”
Kenneth Tan, ST Racing Team Principal: “The BMW M4 GT3 is potentially very competitive. 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. The other part is of course our team. It has expanded and we needed to work together in a GT3 setting and we did that. We worked really well. We achieved the objectives we came here for. 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.”
Torsten Schubert, Schubert Motorsport Team Principal: “We knew that the first race would be a challenge. We began testing on Tuesday here in Dubai. It was important for us to work with the car under racing conditions. That is better than any rollout where you are working alone out on the track. We have learned a lot. Unfortunately, there was an accident when we were hit by a competitor. A top ten finish in the overall standings would otherwise have been possible, and I could hardly have wished for a better result than that. The BMW M4 GT3 is a very balanced car. Apart from a few minor issues, which you always get with a new car, we had no problems. I am particularly pleased with our performance with our BMW M2 CS Racing. This was the first time that I had driven in a 24-hour race with my two sons as a three-driver line-up. We are happy that we made it through to the finish with virtually no hiccups”
Nick Wittmer, #28 BMW M4 GT3, ST Racing: “This was my first time driving a GT3 and for a team that wants to buy a GT3 this car is very user-friendly. It did not take me much time to look around at all the buttons. It is very easy to learn and I really like the functions on the BMW M4 GT3. A lot of functions were new to me so they were things I had to learn. Despite not having the GT3 experience it was very fun and easy to drive the BMW M4 GT3 on track. For sure we need to develop the set-ups and all that by tracks and learn more about the car. I did a lot of track-time out there, I learnt a lot throughout the week and improved a lot. Overall, we just need to fine-tune a little bit and we will be up there for sure. We have a very strong car.”
Samantha Tan, #1 BMW M4 GT3, ST Racing: “It was incredible to be one of the first drivers to race this car officially in the world. It was quite overwhelming to switch from the GT4 to the GT3 but with the focus on us teams I feel that I adapted very quickly to the BMW M4 GT3. The biggest difference for me was all the technology, how much we could really fine-tune all the different settings for the drivers. Obviously there were still a lot of things that I needed to learn this weekend but overall it was great. I think that I ran a very great pace throughout the night. The car has a lot of potential. We just need to put in more work and more development on our side and I will think we will have a great car for the next race at Mugello.”
Nick Yelloly, #30 BMW M4 GT3, Schubert Motorsport: “We take some positives with us moving to Daytona. We know that the car can work very well; all the development and testing that we did over the past 18 months paid off well so I am very happy about that. Now it is just about fine-tuning everything with the new car and I am sure that it will be a multiple race and championship winner in the years to come. Even if the final result was a bit frustrating considering the pace that we could show, especially at the end, I am pretty happy. The team did a fantastic job. Only one small roll-out and then straight away finishing a 24-hour race is a great achievement.”