BMW postpones M4 GT3's race debut after crash in practice
BMW has indefinitely postponed the race debut of its new M4 GT3 challenger following a crash in Friday practice at the Nurburgring Nordschleife.
The German manufacturer’s next-generation GT3 car was due to compete in the fourth round of the NLS (formerly VLN) this weekend as part of a limited race programme in 2021, ahead of being made available to customers around the world next year.
But DTM race winner Sheldon van der Linde lost control of the M4 shortly before the end of practice on Friday and slammed into the barriers, with BMW reporting later that the incident was caused by a technical issue.
With limited time to repair the car overnight, BMW has made a decision to call off the Nurburgring race outing and will use the extra time to analyse the crash in more detail.
The younger of the van der Linde brothers was due to share the car with GT3 regular Jens Klingmann.
“It is a great shame that our test week with the BMW M4 GT3, which had been very successful up until that point, ended prematurely – and that we have had to postpone the car’s race debut, to which we were all very much looking forward,” said Mike Krack, Head of BMW M Motorsport.
“The impact caused damage to the car and so we decided to withdraw from the NLS race on Saturday. We did not take this decision lightly. However, our priority now is to find out exactly what caused the crash.
“It is not uncommon to have a technical issue in the development phase of a new car. That is precisely what these intensive tests are for: to identify potential weaknesses during the development phase, and to eliminate these for the future. That is what we will do now.”
Earlier this week, BMW took part in the two-day Spa 24 Hours test with the M4 GT3, which has yet to be homologated by the FIA.
Nurburgring 24 Hours winner Nick Yelloly, who was sharing driving duties with two-time DTM champion Marco Wittmann and Augusto Farfus, set the unofficial fastest lap with a time of 2m17.986s.
He led the Walkenhorst-run BMW M6 GT3 of Timo Glock by seven tenths of a second.
“We did a lot of driving in the rain on day one, while the second day was dry,” said the British driver. “That gave us the opportunity to complete a lot of laps with the BMW M4 GT3 in all conditions.
“The car felt fantastic, ran like clockwork, and the balance is outstanding. We completed a lot of test work in a wide range of areas at Spa-Francorchamps. The fact that we set the fastest time was obviously a nice bonus.”