Can A BMW M235i Drift For 5 Hours?

2 Series | September 18th, 2014 by 3
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BMW paired up with four-times dirt-track world champion Karl Maier and his speedway bike to show us how a BMW M235i can drift for five …

BMW paired up with four-times dirt-track world champion Karl Maier and his speedway bike to show us how a BMW M235i can drift for five straight hours.

On the Monday morning after Germany had won the football World Cup final against Argentina, the Landshut/Ellermühle speedway stadium at the AC Landshut club witnessed one of sport’s more unusual match-ups. It was the first time a representative of a leading German car magazine took a BMW M235i with M Performance Parts onto the almost 400-metre-long track to compete in a drifting contest against Maier.

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The respective starting points for the driver and rider could not have been more different. The BMW M235i M Performance is powered by a 3.0-litre BMW TwinPower Turbo petrol engine developing 326 hp and 450 Nm (332 lb-ft), has a DIN vehicle weight of 1,470 kilograms and measures almost four-and-a-half metres in length. The speedway motorcycle, meanwhile, has an air-cooled 500 cc single-cylinder engine, weighs 80 kg (as per speedway regulations), makes do with just a single gear and has no brakes. The specially designed methanol-fuelled machine produces up to 80 hp and has been built exclusively for speedway track use.

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Equipped with original M Performance Parts, the BMW M235i provided the perfect recipe for consistent drifts through the approximately 12-metre-wide corners of the Landshut track, just as it does on the road. The driving dynamics for which BMW is renowned are the result of 50:50 weight distribution, a low centre of gravity, BMW M Performance sports suspension (lowered by 20 mm compared to standard specification), a mechanical limited-slip differential at the rear axle and forged 19-inch light-alloy wheels. In June 2014 the car’s BMW TwinPower Turbo six-cylinder engine was crowned “Engine of the Year”. With peak torque of 450 Nm (332 lb-ft) on tap from 1,300 – 4,500 rpm, it offers consistent power delivery across the entire rev range to complement the car’s finely balanced chassis.

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Despite the vastly different profiles of their machines, both driver and rider succeeded in fulfilling a common goal: five hours of “sheer drifting pleasure” on the tightest of tracks. Its first ever meeting with the speedway bike gave the BMW M235i M Performance the chance to demonstrate its dynamic performance capability for the first time on dirt rather than asphalt.

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Five hours of uninterrupted sideways action had failed to sate Karl Maier’s appetite, so the former world champion rounded off the day with a few laps of the track on a specially modified BMW S1000 RR with studded tyres. The RR weighs a shade over 200 kg with a full tank of fuel on board and develops output of 193 hp. But the directional stability, outstanding handling and communicative responses of the super-sports machine allowed Maier to drift his way smoothly over the speedway track, setting the seal on what was dynamically a quite extraordinary day.

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