BMW Z4 GT3, M3 DTM Track Test by Motor Trend

Racing | February 12th, 2014 by 2
2013 BMW Motorsport Media Track Day BMW M3 DTM front three quarter static 04 750x500 BMW Z4 GT3, M3 DTM Track Test by Motor Trend

Motor Trend’s FIA-licensed driver Randy Pobst went to Circuito Monteblanco in Spain to test track the BMW Z4 GT3 and the M3 DTM. Here is …

Motor Trend’s FIA-licensed driver Randy Pobst went to Circuito Monteblanco in Spain to test track the BMW Z4 GT3 and the M3 DTM.

Here is a summary of the excellent report:

BMW Z4 GT3

First up: the Z4 GT3. My car was very similar to the Team Rahal Letterman Lanigan cars here in the American Le Mans GT (now Tudor) series, but ran in FIA’s GT3. A short, squat, flared, winged track weapon with a rockin’ 4.4-liter V-8 squeezed under the long carbon-fiber hood. No-lift paddle shifters, 8500-rpm redline, 515 horsepower – whoa. At 2750 pounds, it was more than 400 pounds lighter than my K-PAX Volvo S60. This Euro version had ABS and traction and stability control.

BMW Motorsport Media Track Day BMW Z4 GT3 front three quarter in motion 03 750x498 BMW Z4 GT3, M3 DTM Track Test by Motor Trend

Dirk was not sure if the stability was on, and I’d say not much if any, because I got it pretty sideways when the Dunlop tires were cold. He warned me it would take some work to get them sticky with the 48-degree ambient temperature. The tire grip got better with each lap, and so did the handling behavior. As a racing driver, I focus on the negatives in a car and prioritize the issues, always looking to improve the speed. My first “negative” was that BMW had a very safe setup in the chassis, making the Z4 understeer a lot in the slow corners. This also could have been due to a tight differential.

Second was the high-rpm engine power: I could feel the restrictors doing their thing above eight grand — what a glorious bellow — but it was better to shift a little early, as this was a midrange (5000-8000 rpm) motor. Thus, the Z4 was not picky about gear choice. It had lots of lower-rev oomph, which also made it really good accelerating off the corner. Better than a Porsche, but not quite with our turbo Volvo, though with zero lag.

BMW M3 DTM

2013 BMW Motorsport Media Track Day BMW M3 DTM front end static 750x498 BMW Z4 GT3, M3 DTM Track Test by Motor Trend

The uber-M3 immediately feels light, and stiff. Impressive power-to-weight to a GT guy. First hairpin after pit exit, crack the yoke right, and ZOW, right in there! The poor Z4 GT3 suddenly fades away — in contrast, what a whale. Steering response redefined, one corner down, 11 laps to go. Touch inside rumble strip, twang, bonka-bonka-bonka — yikes, the setup is rock-hard. Better avoid curbs. First gear, pushhhh, pushy-push, then squeeze throttle and SNAP, out comes the tail. This girl does not like to dance slow. Up through the six sequential gears — pow-pow-pow with a fingertip — the V-8 loves to rev, with a power curve that does not stop.
All my race-car instincts are cranked — it’s the real thing, baby. She rips, but not unlike some other nice pieces I’ve been in, until we get to turn six, the fast one. Now we’re in our downforce element. The very Hand of God shoves us into the asphalt, and the M3 DTM is glued, nailed, stuck. Bump? Who cares? We’re pinned, fused. Braking, too — later, harder, later harder. My inner ear struggles to comprehend. It’s a totally different car at speed — like all your prayers are answered. Off-the-record whispers say it might drive on the ceiling at top speed, implying a couple thousand pounds of downforce. Hand of God, indeed.

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