The Speedweeks at Daytona International Speedway are a month of racing and reveals, with the season's metal going for the flag at races like the Rolex 24 at Daytona and other cars being introduced to the public. In the latter category is the BMW Z4 GTE (click the image above to enlarge) joining the American Le Mans Series GT class this year with BMW Team RLL (Rahal, Letterman and Lanigan). This machine replaces the M3 GT that completed four years of service and won the class title in 2010 and 2011. Naturally, the team is tempering expectations for the Z4 GTE by repeating the fact that it sees this season as a development year.

BMW Team RLL drivers for its two cars will be Bill Auberlen and series rookie Maxime Martin in the No. 55, aided by Jörg Müller for the endurance races at Sebring and Road Atlanta. The No. 56 car gets Dirk Müller on a full-time basis, Joey Hand when he's not competing in the DTM series, and John Edwards when Hand isn't available. Uwe Alzen will help out with driving duties in the No. 56 at endurance races.

Want to know more? Scroll down below for the complete press release.
Show full PR text
The start of a new era.

BMW is embarking on a new chapter of its motorsport commitment in North America: after four successful years with the BMW M3 GT, the new BMW Z4 GTE will take over at the head of the manufacturer's campaign in the 2013 American Le Mans Series (ALMS).

On Tuesday, BMW Motorsport and BMW Team RLL presented the car and drivers for the new season at the "Daytona International Speedway".

Supported by Premium Partner Crowne Plaza Hotels & Resorts, guests from around the world were given the opportunity to inspect the BMW Z4 GTE at close hand, talk to those responsible for the team, and experience the iconic racetrack in Florida from the cockpit, courtesy of taxi rides with the BMW ALMS drivers.

"As we approach the start of the ALMS season in mid-March, so the anticipation is gradually rising," said BMW Motorsport Director Jens Marquardt. "All of us at BMW Motorsport and BMW Team RLL are very curious to see how the first few races pan out with the new BMW Z4 GTE. We are setting out on a development year, but are very confident we have once again developed a car that has the potential to win races and titles in the form of the BMW Z4 GTE. Seeing our drivers at this event, you could tell how much they are looking forward to the first race in Sebring. I would also like to say a big thank you to our Premium Partner Crowne Plaza Hotels & Resorts for its fantastic support here in Daytona."

Team Principal Bobby Rahal added: "Obviously I am very excited to enter this new year with the BMW Z4 GTE. There is a lot of enthusiasm in the team for the new car. Certainly there will be a development period involved but ultimately I see no reason why we can't be competitive with the great competition that exists in the GT category in the ALMS. Although this might be a development year in many respects, with the level of driver talent we have on the team – including the two new exciting additions with Maxime Martin and John Edwards – I think that ultimately we can have success and do much as we did in 2009, the first year of the BMW M3 GT, and work hard toward achieving maximum results in its first year. One aspect of the launch that is very exciting is not just the introduction of the BMW Z4 GTE and our drivers, but also the collection of historic cars that were the cars that began the success story of BMW in North American racing."

The guests had travelled to Orlando on Monday, and were welcomed that evening at a dinner in the Crowne Plaza Universal Orlando by Jens Marquardt, Ludwig Willisch, President and CEO of BMW of North America, BMW Team RLL Team Principal Bobby Rahal and BMW NA Motorsport Manager Gordon McDonnell. On Tuesday, the ALMS drivers took them on a series of taxi rides in historic BMW racing cars. This was followed by the unveiling of the BMW Z4 GTE.

BMW Motorsport also announced the driving pairs for the coming season. Car number 55 will be driven by Bill Auberlen and ALMS rookie Maxime Martin. Dirk Müller will contest all the races in the number 56 car. Joey Hand and John Edwards will alternate as the two-time ALMS GT champion's driving partner. Edwards will stand in for Hand when he is unavailable due to his parallel commitment in the DTM. Jörg Müller (#55) and Uwe Alzen (#56) will bolster the squad at the endurance races at Sebring and Road Atlanta.

The BMW Z4 GTE will contest its first season in 2013. In July 2012, BMW Motorsport engineers in Munich began work on developing a GTE version of the BMW Z4 GT3, which would comply with ACO regulations. The BMW Z4 GT3 itself has enjoyed many years of success in high-class GT series around the world. The regulations stipulate that electronic aids that may be used on the BMW Z4 GT3, such as ABS and DSC, are not permitted on a GTE car.

The BMW Z4 GTE is considerably more compact than its successful predecessor, the BMW M3 GT. All the dimensions of the BMW Z4 GTE have been modified to comply with ACO regulations. The new car took to the racetrack for its maiden test outing in the second half of January. BMW Team RLL was integrated in the process throughout the entire development period. Engineers from the USA travelled to Munich in December to play their part in the assembly of the BMW Z4 GTE.

The car is not the only important new thing BMW Team RLL can look forward to in the coming season: Michelin is the new Tyre Partner of BMW Motorsport in the ALMS. In contrast, Premium Partner Crowne Plaza Hotels & Resorts is something of a constant. The successful cooperation will continue in 2013. Crowne Plaza Hotels & Resorts belongs to the InterContinental Hotels Group. IHG maintains, runs and owns over 4,400 hotels and more than 658,000 rooms in approaching 100 countries.


I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.


    • 1 Second Ago
  • 13 Comments
      ksrcm
      • 1 Year Ago
      This is lame. ///M on a current Z4? Not even a small thingy on the top of the front fender, it occupies the whole side. Might as well put ///M on a Honda Civic. Maybe they wanted to push BMW to release a Z4M?
        Jaymes
        • 1 Year Ago
        @ksrcm
        you do realize BMW already makes a Z4M right?
      mbukukanyau
      • 1 Year Ago
      The enemy, corvette is skimming and plotting. So is Porsche and Ferarri. Viper is also out for blood this year. My guess, BMW will fold tail and run. I wonder when Mercedes will throw in their hat into the ring.
        rsxvue
        • 1 Year Ago
        @mbukukanyau
        Well if BMW was able to convert this GT3 into a GT2 car then I'm sure Mercedes can do it with the SLS GT3. Also since ALMS and Grand Am are joining forces next year, I wouldn't be surprised to see Audi competing as well since they already compete in Grand Am. The GT Class is going to be hotly competitive.
      Jonathan Arena
      • 1 Year Ago
      ALMS needs to get a handle on the amount you can widen a car's stock body... this and the 911 RSR are starting to look ridiculous.
      • 1 Year Ago
      [blocked]
      hebertd106
      • 1 Year Ago
      The Z4 GTE looks way better than the M3 GT & It did well in the GT1 world seriers last year so it doesn't need to be built from the ground up. Plus this will give them time until the new M4 race car comes out.
      Bud
      • 1 Year Ago
      Now this looks like a serious race car - as would be expected from BMW that take there motor racing seriously as a natural extension of there production/sales/marketing business model. This separates the view of motor-sports-sports from America who see motor-sports to be left up to amateurs to take a product and modify it, either professionally of not. Unlike in Europe a performance vehicle is always viewed in its production design with a view to it being entered into competition.
        Jared East
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Bud
        This is BMW USAs car and will not race anywhere else, it's a modified GT3 car.
      karlInSanDiego
      • 1 Year Ago
      Here's a video http://youtu.be/lWFepW_Muk0 I watched a GT Masters race on Speed (?? or Velocity??) and two Z4s (GT3) were cleaning up against the pack of Ford GTs, Audi R8s, Lamborghini Gallardos, etc. I didn't realize that Z4 development was going on, but it makes more sense than campaigning the M3, which starts life at 3700 lbs. I believe this is qualifying http://youtu.be/Oo-Vu9Sy6Jo
      chrismcfreely
      • 1 Year Ago
      If only the regular one had a hardtop like that. (Retractable doesn\'t count)
      Devin Baker
      • 1 Year Ago
      Fap.
    • Load More Comments