Why Wait? BMW Z4 GTE is Already a Winner

June 28, 2013

Why Wait? BMW Z4 GTE is Already a Winner

June 28, 2013

BMWIntroducing a new car to a major race series, especially one as closely competitive as the American Le Mans Series GT class, is not the work of a moment.

The design, engineering, construction and pre-season testing devour thousands of man-hours and success is typically fleeting until after a full season of testing, refinements and real world racing.

It simply takes time and miles to identify the areas for improvement required to deliver the speed, consistency and reliability required to win against competitors with tens of thousands of miles of development in their current race cars.

That certainly was the view when the new BMW Z4 GTE hit the track for the first time on February 12th, barely four weeks before the 2013 ALMS season opener, the Twelve Hours of Sebring.

Back then, BMW Motorsport Director Jens Marquardt said, “all of us at BMW and BMW Team RLL are very curious to see how the first few races pan out with the new BMW Z4 GTE.”

A ‘wait and see’ approach made sense considering that the cars were just being completed and testing was limited.

In addition, a switch to Michelin meant gaining experience with the new tires and establishing new baseline set-ups.

Perhaps the rest of Jens Marquardt’s comment should have gained more attention.

“We are setting out on a development year, but we are very confident we have once again developed a car that has the potential to win races and titles in the form of the new BMW Z4 GTE.”

The results of the first three races suggest that the folks at BMW and BMW Team RLL didn’t subscribe to the ‘write-off a year for development’ theory. Consider:

  • A BMW 1-2 finish at just the second race of the season, the Long Beach Grand Prix ,won by Bill Auberlen and Maxime Martin with Dirk Müller and Joey Hand taking second.
  • Dirk Müller currently leads the ALMS GT driver championship over defending champions – Corvette‘s Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner.
  • BMW Team RLL trails Corvette Racing by just 4 points in the GT Team championship.
  • BMW trails Chevrolet by just seven points in the GT Manufacturer championship.

In hindsight, there were plenty of reasons why BMW’s confidence was not misplaced.  BMW and BMW Team RLL had won the 2010 ALMS GT Manufacturer and Team championships while Joey Hand and Dirk Müller added the GT driver title in 2011.

While the BMW Z4 GTEs are new, the level of preparation, drivers and race strategies remains high.

Following the team’s 1-2 finish at Long Beach, BMW Team RLL leader Bobby Rahal said, “We were able to run more than one stint on the MICHELINs and that was crucial to making our strategies work.”

Taking his first Long Beach victory, driver Bill Auberlen said, “the MICHELIN tires were an absolute pleasure to drive on all day.”

And with that came the realization that the 2013 ALMS Championship battle with the defending champions and 2013 Sebring winning Corvette Racing team was fully joined.

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