Speaking to the media at a special event in Melbourne today, BMW Australia boss, Marc Werner, said the manufacturer-backed BMW team would be a unique entry into the championship and an ideal fit for the BMW brand.
“It’s a well-known fact that Australians love performance vehicles, and the BMW group designs and produces some of the world’s best performance vehicles – it’s simply in our DNA.” Werner said.
“Vehicles such as our remarkable BMW M6 GT3 are born to race, so why wouldn’t we go racing? It makes perfect sense – it’s part of our brand’s performance heritage.”
The team in charge will be Steve Richards Motorsport (SRM), with Richards behind the wheel. It will be known as SRM Team BMW.
Steve Richards is a four-time Bathurst winner and the son of Jim Richards, a seven-time Bathurst winner as well as four-time Australian Touring Car Champion.
The concept behind BMW’s move is to create a factory-supported GT3 car for those that wish to enter the championship with the confidence of a manufacturer’s expertise locally at hand.
SRM and BMW will offer other BMW M6 GT3 owners on- and off-track support for their own racing programs, and Richards says they will have access to his team’s “experience to help reach their full potential driving the car”.
The BMW M6 GT3 car is the replacement for the Z4 GT3, and BMW claims that it will be significantly cheaper to run, with Richards (who also competes in the Porsche Carrera Cup) telling CarAdvice that “providing you don’t have an accident, it’s not much more than the Carrera [to run for a race season]”.
The M6 GT3 uses the same 4.4-litre V8 engine with M TwinPower Turbo technology as the standard road car. But, as per GT regulations, it weighs significantly less at just under 1300kg and comes equipped with a sequential six-speed racing gearbox and optimised body aerodynamics.
An initial batch of 20 M6 GT3s will be built in Germany, of which two are heading to Australia. BMW says the car is currently being tested at Daytona.
Due to the car’s longer wheelbase, the M6 GT3 will be a much easier car to drive fast than the Z4 GT3, BMW claims. And, given it uses a considerably larger number of shared parts with its road-going car, repair costs and durability is also improved.
The car is priced at 379,000 euro, which equates to around $570,000 on today’s exchange rate. Being a pure race-car, it does not incur luxury car tax or other forms of stamp duty applied to road-registrable vehicles, so its European price plus freight should be a close reflection of its local pricing (though that remains unconfirmed for now).
According to Werner, being in the GT championship will help the M performance brand sell more cars.
“At the end of the day the intention is to always sell more cars, that’s why we do these kinds of activities," he said.
We believe it’s perfect for our BMW M brand and if you look at what is happening next year we’ve already announced that we are launching the M2, the M4 GTS and the M6 competition package so it makes perfect sense to give the BMW M brand the right arena when it comes to motorsport and on the back of that we would consider to sell a lot more BMW M cars.”
The BMW M6 GT3 race-car will make its debut at the second round of the Sprint program, the Australian Grand Prix event in Melbourne from March 17 to March 20, 2016.