BMW will have a factory-backed M4 GT4 race car in the country later this year ahead of a full assault on the 2018 racing season.
Australian outfit BMW Team SRM, run by second-generation racer and motorsport veteran Steven Richards, will receive one of the first BMW M4 GT4s to be built, which is expected to arrive within the next two months.
The M4 GT4 was revealed earlier this year, and is a stripped-out racer sitting a class below the bewinged M6 GT3 race car.
The M4 GT4 will make its Aussie debut at the Bathurst 12 Hour in February.
Based on the production M4, the GT4 version comes with the usual racing additions of beefed up suspension, brakes, wheels, and slick rubber, along with a stripped-out interior and rollcage. A 3.0-litre turbocharged straight-six engine sends over 321kW (depending on Balance of Performance specification) to the rear wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch paddle-shift transmission.
GT4 is billed as a more cost-effective and accessible category to accompany GT3 – where some cars can cost over half a million dollars to purchase.
“The M4 GT4 programme is something we’ve had our eyes on since it was first announced,” said Richards.
“From a BMW Team SRM perspective, what it will do is bring a lot of guys from state-level motorsport or even the lower ranks of national categories, and give them an opportunity to go and compete at some of the big circuits and big race meetings in cars that still have very low operating costs.
“GT4 is going to create a whole new demographic of motor racing for the next 10 years.
“Competitors will literally be able to change the oil, change the brake pads, and go and do another test day. It will mean drivers can afford to spend time behind the wheel, testing and practicing to hone and improve their skills. And then they can race at some really cool events, including some of the region’s best long distance events.”
Australian GT is owned by pet food and chocolate magnate Tony Quinn (who also owns the only Aston Martin Vulcan in the southern hemisphere, the Aussie Racing Cars series, and two New Zealand race tracks)
Quinn reached an in-principal agreement earlier this month for the local GT championship to be run by Supercars (which owns 50 percent of the Bathurst 12 Hour) from next year.
Wheels understand the category could be rebranded as SuperGT. Japan’s premier sportscar series uses the same name.
The BMW Team SRM M4 GT4 is intended to attract more racers to the fledgling category, with Richards intending to provide opportunity for potential customers to get a taste behind the wheel.
“We want to use this first car to give people the opportunity to come and have a drive, to experience what the car is like, with the view of having more cars here in Australia in the next six months,” he explained.
“It’s still very early days for the GT4 market here in Australia, particularly compared to Europe, but having this first M4 here in the country will be a great way to get people in the car and getting them excited about what GT4 is and what it means for cost-effective GT racing.”