The first 2016 BMW M6 GT3 car to land in Australia has been unveiled in Melbourne, accompanied by confirmation the factory-supported team behind it, will take part in every Australian GT and Australian Endurance Championship round in 2016.
Now confirmed to begin its local racing resume at next month’s Adelaide Clipsal 500, the 2016 BMW M6 GT3 will participate in all six ‘sprint’ rounds of the Australian GT Championship, as well as all four Australian Endurance Championship (AEC) rounds.
Racing under the BMW Team SRM (Steven Richards Motorsport) banner, the privately-owned entry will be headed, and driven, by Australian motorsport legend and four-time (1998, 1999, 2013, 2015) Bathurst 1000 winner Steve Richards (below right).
The son of local motorsport icon, and seven-time Bathurst 1000 winner, Jim Richards, Steve Richards said the process to get to this point, from initial introductions and discussions with BMW to signing an agreement, has all happened in six to seven weeks.
“As you see the car here, it’s virtually, with another spanner check, ready to go testing.
“We can’t wait to get out there and have a hoon around in what’s going to be a pretty exciting time for BMW coming back into Australian motorsport and Steven Richards Motorsport.”
Speaking about the car, which arrived in Melbourne from Munich on February 16 and is one of only 20 built globally, Richards said, “I’ve got to say, I’ve seen a few good looking race cars in my time, but the first time I saw it… it was incredible.”
“We had an allocation of two cars potentially to come to Australia, and there’s real interest from customers in that second car.”
Powered by a GT3-specification version of the road-going BMW M6’s standard 423kW/680Nm twin-turbocharged 4.4-litre V8, the 380,000 euro ($592,700) M6 race car outputs up to 430kW – though this can be adjusted via a real-time-accessible boost controller, according to mandated balance of performance (BoP) class regulations.
Helping the M6-based GT3 racer not only look the part but also perform to the necessary competition standards, are ultra wide guards, a wider track, significant aerodynamics, Pirelli P Zero racing slicks, and AP Racing brakes on all four corners.
Speaking at the Melbourne unveiling, BMW Australia CEO Marc Werner, said the local event commences “another chapter of BMW motorsport in Australia”.
“It’s the first motorsport program we’ve implemented since we exited Formula One in 2009,” Werner said.
“And it just feels right to be back in motorsport.
“Our partnership with Steven Richards Motorsport provides a unique customer racing program, with benchmark driving talent and expertise, full technical support and a great parts supply.
“The initial response to this program from the general public has been sensational. And again, clearly confirms that BMW customers are performance fans willing to invest in their passion, to the point where we have several inquiries from customers wanting to switch from other brands.
“And I’ll tell you that we use this unique opportunity not only as a pure brand exercise, but we will use it show our dear friends from Stuttgart [Porsche] and Ingolstadt [Audi], how real performance cars can drive.”
Werner said BMW had been taking note of the increasing global interest in customer racing, and in particular the GT championship, saying, “In our opinion, [GT racing is] the ideal platform to get customers on board and being part of a very exciting motorsport series.”
“And that’s why we decided that this is the right arena for BMW to re-enter the motorsport arena.”
On the topic of just how quickly he, and the team at SRM, managed to lock down the M6 GT3’s 2016 Australian GT campaign, the local head said it was all a matter of timing.
“First of all, we were launching that car on a worldwide level. We launched the car in the US, we launched the car in Europe, we’re going to launch it in Japan and now we are launching it here in Australia. So it’s a global approach.
“And with a global approach there comes significant support from headquarters. And if you have significant support from headquarters, then things usually work quite well.
“We are committed to motorsport – I’m personally very, very much committed to motorsport. We’re passionate about this.
“Whatever BMW does in terms of motorsport, we’ve always shown that we are highly committed and usually quite successful. How successful we are going to be, that remains to be seen, however, I’m very confident that with the setup that we’ve chosen, we have the right support program, in particular, for our customers in place. And that is actually the most important thing. It’s about the customer. GT racing is really about the customer.”
With rounds from the two local GT championships combined, the new BMW M6 GT3 will appear at Melbourne’s Albert Park for the 2016 Australian Formula One Grand Prix, at Perth’s Barbagallo Raceway, Victoria’s Phillip Island, the Townsville 400 in Queensland, Sydney Motorsport Park, and New Zealand’s Highlands Park and Hampton Downs – along with its debut round in Adelaide.
Neither BMW or SRM would confirm the car’s entry into next year’s 2017 Bathurst 12 Hour, however, Richards did say, “Clearly we want to have a couple – maybe two, maybe three cars – running at the 12 Hour.”
In a bonus for BMW, and for fans of the marque equalling celebrating the group’s centenary year, Richards’ M6 GT3 will carry the number #100 for the 2016 season. And for keen trainspotters, the car will be on track at Winton Raceway for its inaugural Australian shakedown on Monday, February 22.