February 13, 2013

Meet BMW's new ALMS fighter

New car, new tires, same hotel rooms. BMW will field their Z4 GTE for the first time in North America this year, the final season of ALMS racing.
If you follow international endurance,  it's a car you are familiar with and in this, its latest incarnation and with its insane widebody, it makes entries from Ferrari, Porsche and Aston Martin seem faily stock in comparison.  Those flares look like something straight out of the wicked Deutsche Rennsport Meisterschaft era, except the aero actually works!

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing will be fielding two cars, now on Michelin rubber and with Crowne Plaza returning as title sponsor.  Drivers will be BMW pillar Bill Auberlen  teamed with Belgian Maxime Martin and Dirk Mueller will share the second car with Joey Hand and John Edwards.   For Sebring, Uwe Alzen and Jörg Mueller will fill out the crews.

The debut is set for the Sebring 12 Hour on March 15th. where Uwe Alzen and Jörg Mueller will fill the crews.

You will find more pictures and car specs on the BMW press release after the jump

Daytona (US), 12th February 2013. BMW is embarking on a new chapter of its motorsport commitment in North America: after four successful years with the BMW M3 GT, the new BMW Z4 GTE will take over at the head of the manufacturer’s campaign in the 2013 American Le Mans Series (ALMS). On Tuesday, BMW Motorsport and BMW Team RLL presented the car and drivers for the new season at the “Daytona International Speedway” (US).

Supported by Premium Partner Crowne Plaza Hotels & Resorts, guests from around the world were given the opportunity to inspect the BMW Z4 GTE at close hand, talk to those responsible for the team, and experience the iconic racetrack in Florida from the cockpit, courtesy of taxi rides with the BMW ALMS drivers.

“As we approach the start of the ALMS season in mid-March, so the anticipation is gradually rising,” said BMW Motorsport Director Jens Marquardt. “All of us at BMW Motorsport and BMW Team RLL are very curious to see how the first few races pan out with the new BMW Z4 GTE. We are setting out on a development year, but are very confident we have once again developed a car that has the potential to win races and titles in the form of the BMW Z4 GTE. Seeing our drivers at this event, you could tell how much they are looking forward to the first race in Sebring. I would also like to say a big thank you to our Premium Partner Crowne Plaza Hotels & Resorts for its fantastic support here in Daytona.”

Team Principal Bobby Rahal added: “Obviously I am very excited to enter this new year with the BMW Z4 GTE. There is a lot of enthusiasm in the team for the new car. Certainly there will be a development period involved but ultimately I see no reason why we can’t be competitive with the great competition that exists in the GT category in the ALMS. Although this might be a development year in many respects, the level of driver talent we have on the team – including the two new exciting additions with Maxime Martin and John Edwards – I think that ultimately we can have success and do much as we did in 2009, the first year of the BMW M3 GT, and work hard toward achieving maximum results in its first year. One aspect of the launch that is very exciting is not just the introduction of the BMW Z4 GTE and our drivers, but also the collection of historic cars that were the cars that began the success story of BMW in North American racing.”

The guests had travelled to Orlando (US) on Monday, and were welcomed that evening at a dinner in the Crowne Plaza Universal Orlando by Jens Marquardt, Ludwig Willisch, President and CEO of BMW of North America, BMW Team RLL Team Principal Bobby Rahal and BMW NA Motorsport Manager Gordon McDonnell. On Tuesday, the ALMS drivers took them on a series of taxi rides in historic BMW racing cars. This was followed by the unveiling of the BMW Z4 GTE.

BMW Motorsport also announced the driving pairs for the coming season. Car number 55 will be driven by Bill Auberlen (US) and ALMS rookie Maxime Martin (BE). Dirk Müller (DE) will contest all the races in the number 56 car. Joey Hand (US) and John Edwards (US) will alternate as the two-time ALMS GT champion’s driving partner. Edwards will stand in for Hand when he is unavailable due to his parallel commitment in the DTM. Jörg Müller (DE, #55) and Uwe Alzen (DE, #56) will bolster the squad at the endurance races at Sebring (US) and Road Atlanta (US).

The BMW Z4 GTE will contest its first season in 2013. In July 2012, BMW Motorsport engineers in Munich (DE) began work on developing a GTE version of the BMW Z4 GT3, which would comply with ACO regulations. The BMW Z4 GT3 itself has enjoyed many years of success in high-class GT series around the world. The regulations stipulate that electronic aids that may be used on the BMW Z4 GT3, such as ABS and DSC, are not permitted on a GTE car.

The BMW Z4 GTE is considerably more compact than its successful predecessor, the BMW M3 GT. All the dimensions of the BMW Z4 GTE have been modified to comply with ACO regulations. The new car took to the racetrack for its maiden test outing in the second half of January. BMW Team RLL was integrated in the process throughout the entire development period. Engineers from the USA travelled to Munich in December to play their part in the assembly of the BMW Z4 GTE.

The car is not the only important new thing BMW Team RLL can look forward to in the coming season: Michelin is the new Tyre Partner of BMW Motorsport in the ALMS. In contrast, Premium Partner Crowne Plaza Hotels & Resorts is something of a constant. The successful cooperation will continue in 2013. Crowne Plaza Hotels & Resorts belongs to the InterContinental Hotels Group. IHG maintains, runs and owns over 4,400 hotels and more than 658,000 rooms in approaching 100 countries.

Technical Specifications BMW Z4 GT3.

Length: 4,395mm (excl. rear wing)
Width: 2,010mm
Height: 1,205mm (depending on set-up)
Weight: 1,245kg (according to ACO regulations)
Tank capacity: 110 litres (according to IMSA classification)

Chassis/body: Steel body with welded safety cell

Transmission: six-speed sequential sport transmission, operated via shifting paddles mounted on the steering wheel, multiple ZF Sachs clutch

Front axle: McPherson axle with pushrods and wishbone, additionally with adjustable shock absorbers, H&R coil springs

Rear axle: Longitudinal links with wishbone, adjustable shock absorbers, H&R coil springs

Brake system: hydraulic dual circuit brake; monobloc multi-piston light alloy brake callipers, innver-vented steel brake discs, seamless brake balance adjustment (front and rear) by the driver

Wheels: BBS forged aluminum wheels, front axle: 12,5x18“, rear axle: 13x18“)

Tyres: Michelin, front axle: 300-680-18, rear axle: 310-710-18

Engine type: Eight-cylinder, V-configuration, four valves per cylindre, mandatory air restrictor (2x29.4mm)

Capacity: 4,400cc
Max. output: approx. 480bhp (with mandatory air restrictor)
Max. torque: approx. 480Nm

Cylinder block: Aluminum cylinder block construction

Engine management: BMW Motorsport ECU 408, without fuses, central display


  1. ALMS is diluting their production based racing intent by allowing a non Z4 production engine to be permitted in place of the production based block. A V8 engine configuration is not offered on production models. In order for ALMS to maintain the interest of production based racing fans such as myself I believe the cars should be a fundamental representation of the road going variant. This means: production based blocks, production suspension configurations, and production based bodies with necessary wheel flares. I fear that deviating from this formula with ALMS' decision to allow BMW to use a non-production engine block and configuration compromises the series integrity and leads down a very slippery slope. Though, this is not the first accommodation the racing series has made to enable BMW to run cars which would have otherwise been uncompetitive if derived from their road going configuration.

    1. A valid point perhaps but cows left that barn long ago and were not branded just with roundels.

  2. PETE

    If you want to watch stock cars race on track, watch the Grand AM GS and ST cars.

    Corvette used direct injection and a non production engine block, GM has not had direct injection in production cars till this years new Corvette.

    1. Are you referring to the series that allowed a rear drive, tube frame, V8 Pontiac Grand-Am(Pontiac's low cost front drive offering) race car to compete in a "production based” series?

      My comment was not intended to spark a brand debate but instead an ALMS rules debate. I believe changing the engine configuration for the purpose of racing means these race cars are no longer fundamental representation of the road going variant. If Corvette used a non-production 10 cylinder, or Porsche used an 8 cylinder, I would be equally offended.

      Direct injection is available for use by all teams and brands regardless of the production version's fuel delivery as a way to level the field, much like how air restrictors and paddle shifters are employed. This I believe is tolerable.

      Re: C6-R's "non-production block":

      "Where the C6.R and ZR1 differ significantly are in situations where GT rules actually prohibit the use of the more sophisticated ZR1 components. For example, the ZR1 is equipped with carbon-composite brake rotors, while GT regulations require ferrous (steel) brake discs. And, where the ZR1 utilizes a 6.2-liter supercharged V-8, the C6.R uses a naturally aspirated, production-based 5.5-liter small-block V-8.

      The Corvette C6.Rs' engines are developed, built and maintained by GM. Designated LS5.5R, the naturally aspirated powerplant is based on the Corvette Z06's 7.0-liter LS7 engine (which in turn was developed with the 7.0-liter race engine used in the C6.R GT1 cars), and is built with a production cast-aluminum cylinder block.

      The reduction in displacement to meet the GT class regulations was achieved by shortening the crankshaft stroke and reducing the cylinder bore diameter....."

      Source: http://corvetteracing.com/2012-technology-transfer.shtml

      As a side note, that Z4 is beautiful.

      Psssstttt! Pete, your ignorence is showing

  3. "their production based racing" says it all. It's production based racing, not showroom stock racing. Also I'm not sure how it compromises the series integrity? I do agree that BMW should make 300 V8 Z4's. Would be baller !!!

  4. It's certainly nothing new. Take the outgoing M3. It had maybe what, the tail lights in common with the production car? :). It had a different suspension, the engine moved back 2' and down one. It had the gearbox in the back. I don't think votvettees had leaf springs either and I'm sure Porsche "cheated" too Still way better than Gramd Am

    1. The Vettes do actually use the transverse leaves (?), the frame is pulled off the assembly line, it uses an A/C pump off the Volt, and the motors are built in the same factory as the production car engines and shares the block. I'm not sure any other manufacturer, with the exception of maybe Viper that uses more actual stock car parts or ones derived directly from factory made parts.

  5. Can we please stop calling them "steel" brake dics? It must be a shitty translation from German, cause Porsche did it too. Though I guess Corvette Racing has no excuse...

    Myth #2:

    1. So a man that has been dead for 10 years knows that race teams aren't using steel brake discs and are instead using cast iron ones and dressing them up as being made from steel? Yeah. Okay.

    2. I would love to be proven wrong on this, I just haven't been able to find anything to the contrary. In car applications (motorcycles and go karts DO use steel discs sometimes), it's either cast iron, reinforced carbon or carbon ceramics.


  6. Wonder how many wins the ALMS are going to hand BMW this season. Pretty bullshit that they get to run a car with an engine that isn't available in the road car. Oh well, gotta make the rules up as they go along so BMW can get their wins.


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