It’s here, like it or not: BMW’s newest GTE entry the Z4, has been unveiled.
Some might object that it has a 4.4-liter V8 while the production models come with inline fours or sixes; some might object to the number of rules waivers needed to get the car to fit the class.
All of that is moot, now. BMW unveiled the car at Daytona International Speedway Tuesday, and in March, the car will take the green flag at the American Le Mans Series season opener, the Twelve Hours of Sebring.
“As we approach the start of the ALMS season in mid-March, so the anticipation is gradually rising,” said BMW Motorsport Director Jens Marquardt in a BWM press release. “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.
The car will be campaigned by BMW’s de facto North American factory team, Rahal Letterman Lanigan, the team which earned BMW two team and two manufacturer titles and one driver’s title in four seasons with the old M3 coupe.
Team Principal Bobby Rahal spoke at the unveiling. “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, with 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.”
BMW Team RLL will field a pair of the new Z4GTEs in ALMS. The #55 car will be driven by Bill Auberlen, who drives BMWs for RLL and also Turner Motorsports in Grand Am, paired with ALMS rookie Maxime Martin, who had been driving the GT3 version of the Z4 in the Blancpain Endurance Series.The #56 car will go to RLL veterans Dirk Müller and Joey Hand, with newcomer John Edwards filling in when Hand has to drive for BMW in Germany’s DTM series. Edwards has had success in open-wheel racing and for the past few seasons in Grand Am driving Camaros for Stevenson Motorsports.
BMW factory drivers Jörg Müller in the #55 and Uwe Alzen in the #56 will fill out the squads for the two longest races, Sebring and Road Atlanta,
Tickets for the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring can be purchased online through the Sebring Raceway website.
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