We’ve just been sent a snap shot of what looks to be the 2011 BMW M3 GT entrant for the American Le Mans Series. Earlier today, a fan posted the picture below on their Facebook page of what we believe is the 2011 M3 GT in testing prior to the start of the ALMS season. This picture seems to affirm what we’d heard from various sources earlier this month that private tests were being conducted in late January prior to the pre-season testing held at the Sebring track in Central Florida with many of the other teams.
What’s seen in this photo is quite obviously the beautiful bare carbon look of the M3 GT – which will again be raced by BMW Team RLR and continue the strong cooperation with BMW Team Schnitzer across the Atlantic competing in the European series.
For the 2011 season, Tommy Milner has left for Corvette and in his place BMW works driver Dirk Werner will step in to partner with Bill Auberlen in the #92 M3. Auberlen and Werner should already be well-acquainted with both the M3 and each other’s approach to racing as they’ve shared the E92 M3 GT at both the 12 Hours of Sebring and the Petit Le Mans last season – contributing to BMW’s overall win of the Constructor’s Championship in only their second season participating in the ALMS. Their strategy of strong reliability combined with consistency in both the drivers and the teams paid dividends in the 2010 season.
As for the pair of M3′s being prepped for the 2011 season, our sources indicate that two entirely new cars have been constructed and will be the cars to beat this season. Competition will come from the usual suspects of the Porsche GT3′s from Flying Lizard and the Corvette teams. Rumor has it Risi Competizione has a brand-spanking-new 458 GT on order and on the way over from Italy to kick off the new season. Many will remember that at the final race of the 2010 season, a Risi F430GT ran out of fuel on the last lap at Road Atlanta – giving BMW the #92 a high enough placement to take the 2010 Constructors Championship. However, the question remains if the 458 will be reliable enough and sorted to pose a substantial threat to the M3 GT.
In looking at this photo of the 2011 M3 GT from BMW Team RLR a few minor changes stand out over the 2010 M3 GT. First off, in an effort to likely increase aerodynamic efficiency and visibility across the nose of the car, the lower front fascia has been revised slightly to integrate the fog lamps into the bumper with an inverted triangular fixture – moving away from the prior model’s small, circular protruding lamps embedded just inside the front of the air dam and then flush circular lamps seen at the end of the season.
Other revisions reveal some possible tweaks to the winglets on either side of the front fascia as a likely revised aerodynamics package for this season. A revised aero package, though very similar to the 2010 kit, could be used to create better front-end grip along with a means of channeling air to the brakes – useful for especially longer races like the 12 Hours of Sebring. From looking at this photo we cannot see any other large departures from the 2010 M3 GT – the rear air ducts over the blistered rear arches appear to be the same as last year as well. We will work to confirm what sort of changes may have been made to the 2011 car over the 2010 iteration.
On a personal note, I have to say that I love the bare carbon fiber look of the M3 GT. It’s a stark departure from the typically white and blue factory schemes we’ve seen the last two seasons and does an excellent job of providing the M3 GT a menacing look that it deserves based on reputation alone. Come on BMW – run a bare carbon M3 GT – Audi’s new R18 LMP car sure looks good naked!
Watch this space for more on BMW’s presence in the 2011 season of the American Le Mans Series as we will continue to provide coverage as the season progresses.
Hat tip to MTechnik @ TeamSpeed for the photo!
Photo by James Boone – Flickr