BMW's new M4 puts on a racing suit and heads for GT3 endurance events

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BMW's second-generation M4 is less than a year old, yet it's already geared up to go racing. The Munich-based firm introduced a track-only evolution of its latest coupe built to replace the M6 in GT3 races around the world.

Low, wide, quick and loud, the M4 GT3 is a serious, purpose-designed race car that shares little more than a name and a handful of defining styling cues with its street-legal sibling. Its kidney grilles are the same ones found on the standard M4, but the interior surfaces are bigger to channel more cooling air into the engine bay. The rear lights also look like the production car's, but they're integrated into a redesigned fascia that's around six inches wider.

One peek at the cabin reveals how far the M4 GT3 is from the M4 rolling into showrooms. Pilots face a quick-release steering wheel that can also be used on a driving simulator. It features buttons used to control the radio, the ABS, the wipers, and the drink system, among other functions. It's all racing, all the time, but some concessions were made in the name of comfort. The air conditioning system is twice as powerful as the M6 GT3's, for example.

While the M6 used a turbocharged, 4.4-liter V8, the M4 is powered by a track-only version of the street car's turbocharged, 3.0-liter straight-six called P58 internally and tuned to develop up to 590 horsepower and 516 lb-ft of torque. It's about 80 pounds lighter than the V8, and this reduction makes a significant difference because it improves the coupe's weight distribution by removing mass from the front axle. BMW explained taking the six racing required changing its mounting angle, developing a dry-sump lubrication system, and fitting engine-mounted oil tanks with an integrated oil-water exchanger, among other FIA-approved modifications. The crankcase, the cylinder head, the crankshaft drive, the crankshaft, and, somewhat surprisingly, the connecting rods are all stock.

Power travels to the rear wheels via a six-speed sequential transmission provided by Xtrac. It's a straight-tooth unit related to the M8 that competes in GTE events, and it features a paddle-operated electro-hydraulic clutch.

BMW's M4 GT3 is scheduled to make its debut June 26 at round four of the Nürburgring Endurance Series (NLS), and it will start racing in 2022. It will be able to compete at other events in Europe, too. On our side of the pond, it's eligible to enter the GT Daytona and GT Daytona Pro classes of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and the GT class of the SRO Fanatec GT World Challenge and the SRO GT America.

Pricing for the 2022 BMW M4 GT3 starts at $530,000 before an unspecified destination charge gets added to the bottom line. Racers can order the Competition package, which bundles additional headlights, backlit door numbers, a tire pressure monitoring system with eight sensors, spring and brake pedal travel measurement systems, a Bosch rear-view camera radar system, an additional set of rims, and a day of training on a simulator, for $55,000.

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