Continuing the rich vein of form, the McLaren 650S GT3 has won a further brace of championship titles in one weekend. Customer teams Darrell Lea and Tekno Autosports claimed the CAMS Australian GT Championship and the Australian Endurance Championship respectively, marking the ninth and tenth titles won by McLaren to date during the 2016 GT season.
The season-ending race weekend for the two series took place at Highlands Motorsport Park in New Zealand. The Australian GT Championship double-header title decider, followed by the Australian Endurance Championship finale – the Highlands 101.
Klark Quinn, driving for customer team Darrell Lea, arrived at the final races of the season leading the championship, and his third Australian GT title was secured with a podium finish in the second race. It was a dramatic way to end the season, as Quinn retired from Race 1 after a last lap collision with his title rival while leading.
With his title hopes recharged after a penalty to the Race 1 winner just before the start of Race 2, Quinn made a good start in the #37 650S GT3, and took the lead after the round of pit stops. As the race progressed, and the championship well within his grasp, he did not risk his chances of losing out on the championship and crossed the line to take P3. Having started P6, fellow McLaren drivers Nathan Antunes and Elliot Barber in the #61 Tekno Autosports 650S GT3 secured the overall race win after a dominant performance in the closing stages of the race.
Success for McLaren and the 650S GT3 continued the following day as Tekno Autosports pairing of Grant Denyer and Nathan Morcom finished the Highlands 101 endurance race with a solid top 10 finish. Despite a mechanical issue during the race, the pair brought the #59 650S GT3 home in P8 to secure the inaugural Australian Endurance Championship.
Both Morcom and Denyer battled through the problem, but a lack of pace in the closing stages of the 101-lap race forced Morcom to pit with five laps remaining to ensure the car made the finish. The heroic effort capped an extremely strong season for the duo, who won the opening round of the championship and scored a further three solid points finishes to keep them in the title hunt until the final round. The result marks the tenth championship title for McLaren during the 2016 season; the most successful campaign for McLaren in GT racing to date.
McLaren GT Factory Drivers Rob Bell, Côme Ledogar, Shane van Gisbergen and Alvaro Parente claimed victories in Europe and North America as the 650S GT3 enjoyed a strong weekend. The race-focused version of Super Series model secured a dramatic win at the opening round of the 2016 Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup in Monza, Italy, a double podium in the Pirelli World Challenge at Barber Motorsports Park in the USA and pole position and a win at the first weekend of the International GT Open championship in Estoril, Portugal.
In the all-Factory Driver line-up #58 McLaren 650S GT3 of customer team Garage 59, Bell started the three-hour race P16 alongside the all-McLaren GT Academy Driver trio of Alex Fontana, Struan Moore and Andrew Watson in P15. The experienced Brit quickly fought through the pack, climbing as high as P3 during his stint, before a quick pit stop by the team vaulted the car into the lead with Ledogar aboard. Frenchman Ledogar – making his competitive debut as a Factory Driver with McLaren GT – drove faultlessly through traffic and retained the lead against one of the most competitive GT grids, before van Gisbergen took over for one of the most exciting and closest finishes the championship has ever seen.
During the final stint of the race, the rapid van Gisbergen defended the lead as he negotiated back-markers around the historic 3.6-mile Italian circuit. As the chequered flag fell after 96 hard-fought laps and three hours of racing, the New Zealand-born driver brought the #58 650S GT3 home to secure the top step of the podium with a winning margin of just 0.341s, and score the team its first win in the Championship.
In the United States, fellow Factory Driver Alvaro Parente enjoyed a successful weekend at the wheel of the 650S GT3. Parente, driving for customer team K-PAX Racing, won Round 6 of the Pirelli World Challenge, and finished second the following morning in Round 7 at the challenging Barber Motorsports Park circuit in Alabama. The results place Parente firmly in the running for the Drivers’ Title.
A third win for the 650S GT3 was secured at the opening weekend of the International GT Open, as customer team Garage 59 enjoyed further success in the second race at Estoril in Portugal. Kevin Estre and Alexander West secured pole position in the #88 650S GT3, and the French-Swedish pair looked set for a convincing victory until a misjudged overtake by a competitor ended the charge on the final lap. Charging to the line, the #59 650S GT3 of Michael Benham and Duncan Tappy reacted quickly to the incident with the British pair taking the lead in another dramatic race finish.
Commenting on the result at Monza, McLaren GT Factory Driver Côme Ledogar explained: ’It is a dream come true to win on my debut for McLaren as a Factory Driver, and even more so at a place as special as Monza. Garage 59 did a fantastic job all weekend and didn’t put a foot wrong through the race. The work by the pitcrew which saw us jump the leaders was a key moment for us, so credit must go to them. I’m also really thankful for the job my teammates did during the race – Rob (Bell) made a great start, fighting through the pack, and Shane put on a stunning display of defensive driving at the end. The car was perfect and in my stint I just had to keep it clean. I can’t wait to visit Silverstone next month and continue our title challenge.’
The first BMW M6 GT3 has touched down in Australia, with BMW Team SRM having now officially taken delivery of the brand new twin-turbo V8-powered racing car. The new-generation GT3 car is the first of its kind to land in Australia, and will compete as a factory-supported entry in GT racing under the BMW Team SRM banner this season. The running of the BMW M6 GT3 program in Australia has been entrusted to motorsport legend Steve Richards, the reigning Bathurst 1000 winner. His SRM squad will also provide on-track support and parts supply when other M6 GT3s join the Australian GT field in the future.
According to Richards, this is the most exciting new car delivery he’s ever been involved in. “I don’t think I’ve ever been this excited,” said Richards.
“I’ve had a few new race cars in my time, but this one takes the cake. “We’re really lucky to have this program up and running with BMW Group Australia, and to be involved in the Australian GT Championship with something that is so new. I’m really looking forward to sinking my teeth into it. These GT3 cars have the same technical innovations as modern road cars, so to have things like anti-lock braking and traction control, not to mention the aerodynamics – that makes them as exciting to drive as you can get. “I just can’t wait to drive it.”
Marc Werner, CEO of BMW Group Australia, agreed that the arrival of the BMW M6 GT3 is an exciting moment. “The arrival of the first BMW M6 GT3 in Australia is a major milestone in the development of this brand new program,” said Werner. “To have the car here, and see it in the flesh, is incredibly exciting. Welcoming the BMW M6 GT3 to the BMW family here in Australia is the perfect way to kick-start celebrations for our 100th year, and we can’t wait for the new car to hit the track for the first time.”
Richards will have his first taste of the BMW Team SRM M6 GT3 at the car’s debut test session at Winton next week. The all-new BMW M6 GT3 is powered by a BMW 4.4-litre V8 engine with M TwinPower turbo technology, and replaces the successful BMW Z4 GT3 as the brand’s top-level GT3-specification racer.
The new model made its international racing debut at the gruelling 24 Hours of Daytona recently, Michael Marsal, Markus Palttala, Maxime Martin, and Jesse Krohn teaming up to finish an impressive sixth in the GTD class.
To coincide with the 2016 Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour, Mercedes-AMG is presenting its very latest racing car: the new Mercedes-AMG GT3 for the first time in Australia. Motorsport and Mercedes-AMG are inseparable entities: competition on the racetrack is deeply ingrained in the DNA of AMG, and constantly drives the team in Affalterbach on to achieve top-class performance. In no other customer race series in the world is there so much variety as in those held according to the FIA's GT3 rules. They attract the entire international sports car elite to the starting line. The mixture of demanding sprint races and legendary endurance classics around the globe constantly confronts the teams with new challenges.
"We are entering a hotly contested and strongly occupied competitive environment with the new Mercedes-AMG GT3. The high technological level and fair race rules motivate us to be right up in the front rank with our new customer racing car," says Tobias Moers, Chairman of Mercedes-AMG GmbH. "Our standard version of the AMG GT is already aimed specifically at the fiercely contested sports car segment. We are now systematically continuing this strategy on the racetrack as well. Only those who win against the best can substantiate a claim to leadership."
The spectacular design and cutting-edge technology of the Mercedes-AMG GT3 will make their mark in customer sport, and the high racetrack performance of the standard GT already provides the best possible basis for this. The development team also had the benefit of the experience gained from the successes of the SLS AMG GT3. This first customer sport racing car from AMG, which celebrated its debut in 2010, has had an impeccable career with 187 victories, and was able to win the "Grand Slam" in 2013: the four endurance classics in Dubai, Bathurst, at the Nürburgring and in Spa-Francorchamps.
The design lines of the new Mercedes-AMG GT3 say everything about the character and ambitions of this racer: make way for a car that is primed for the attack, and wants only one thing, namely to win. Its matte paintwork in designo selenite grey magno covers the muscular contours like a second skin. As an alluring contrast, yellow exterior highlights create sophisticated effects in counter lighting. From whatever the viewing angle: this racing car from Affalterbach already makes a mighty impression at standstill, and embodies sheer power.
The widened body, the large air inlets, the diffuser and the enormous rear aerofoil – numerous features from motorsport give the Mercedes-AMG GT3 a decidedly dynamic appearance. At the same time it avoids any sign of unnecessary showmanship: all modifications to the body are in the interests of maximum downforce and aerodynamic efficiency, for best results on the racetrack. The specially incorporated features also improve the effective cooling of components subject to high thermal loads.
The new "Panamericana" radiator grille is particularly noticeable when viewed from the front. Its design with vertical chrome struts is reminiscent of the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL racing sports car. In 1952 this won the famous "Carrera Panamericana" endurance race across Mexico. With this modern reinterpretation of a classic design, Mercedes-AMG is paying respectful homage to its illustrious racing antecedent. Its victories are both a powerful incentive and an obligation to strive for peak position once again.
The three-dimensionally formed Panamericana radiator grille is more convex at the top than at the bottom – designers refer to these proportions as a "shark nose". It is particularly recognisable from the side, and gives the Mercedes-AMG GT3 a combative demeanour. The shape of the Panamericana radiator grille opens out downwards, suggesting the stylised "A" that is typical of the front end in AMG cars. The lower air inlet above the large front diffuser is likewise A-shaped. The carbon-fibre front diffuser transitions into a smooth underbody to produce hefty downforce together with the rear diffuser and rear aerofoil. Special cooling ducts in the front apron ensure efficient cooling of the front brakes, which are particularly subject to high thermal loads when racing.
To keep the vehicle weight as low as possible, the body is mainly of carbon-fibre: the bonnet, doors, front wings, front and rear aprons, side walls, side skirts, diffuser, boot lid and rear aerofoil are made from this particularly lightweight yet extremely strong material. As in the road going version, the vehicle structure of the GT3 consists of a likewise extremely lightweight yet rigid aluminium spaceframe. With numerous detailed improvements, systematic implementation of the "AMG Lightweight Performance" strategy has resulted in an even lower kerb weight than that of the SLS AMG GT3.
Flics mounted on the sides of the front apron generate downforce at the front axle, as do the so-called "louvres", the wheel arch air vents at the top of the front wings. On each side, the wider body compared with the standard version of the AMG GT3 creates space for the wide track of the double wishbone axles and 45.7 cm (18-inch) light-alloy wheels with centre locks. An air inlet on the left and right shoulders ahead of each rear wheel conducts the necessary cooling air to the transmission at the rear axle. The standardised connection for the fast-fuelling system is located in the C-pillar, where it is ergonomically ideal for the pit crew.
A large, central aperture in the bonnet has the appearance of a gaping mouth. Its purpose is to expel large volumes of air warmed by the cooling module. Behind the front wheels there are noticeable wheel arch air vents which likewise conduct away warm air. Air inlets ahead of the rear wheels assist cooling of the rear brakes. Directly in front of each one is an exhaust tailpipe – it is from these scarcely muffled "sidepipes" that the typical AMG eight- cylinder sound thunders. Music to the ears, not only of hard rock enthusiasts. Below the side skirts, the smooth underbody ensures an efficient airflow beneath the vehicle.
Extremely wide and sporting its large rear aerofoil, the Mercedes-AMG GT3 also cuts an impressive figure from the rear. Maximum downforce at the rear axle and high aerodynamic performance are ensured by the multiply adjustable rear aerofoil and the prominent diffuser. Large apertures in the rear apron expel the warm air from the rear wheels.
The AMG 6.3-litre V8 engine, with additional improvements for the new racing car, ensures the fulminating power already familiar from the SLS AMG GT3. Low operating costs, long service intervals, the user-friendly technology and, not least, the great reliability of this naturally aspirated, high-revving AMG engine were the reasons for staying with this concept for the customer sports segment. Dry sump lubrication obviates the need for an oil sump, allowing the V8 engine to be installed low down in the chassis and well behind the front axle.
As is usual for the standard production engines, the racing engine also has an AMG engine badge bearing the signature of the technician who assembled it: Production of the V8 engine is a manual operation following the traditional "one man, one engine" principle applied in the AMG engine shop in Affalterbach. Naturally these AMG engine specialists are particularly proud to be assembling engines that are used to compete on legendary race circuits.
The sequential six-speed racing transmission of the Mercedes-AMG GT3 is mounted at the rear axle (transaxle concept), and connected to the engine by a torsionally rigid torque tube. A drive shaft rotates at the engine speed inside the torque tube. Both components are of lightweight carbon-fibre. A multi-disc locking differential integrated into the transmission acts together with the adjustable traction control to ensure that the engine power is optimally transferred to the racetrack during acceleration. The driver shifts the six gears using two steering wheel shift paddles. Gearshifts are performed by pneumatic actuators which are likewise integrated into the transmission.
Like the road going version, the GT3 has a double wishbone suspension made almost completely of aluminium. This solution once again demonstrates how closely regular production and racing technology are linked at AMG. The same applies to the vehicle concept, with a low centre of gravity, perfect weight distribution, long wheelbase and wide track. This layout guarantees precise self-steering characteristics, high lateral acceleration, first-class agility, high traction and low inertia during fast changes in direction. On the different race circuits, all of these attributes give the driver the advantages necessary to achieve top placements.
For their individual, circuit-specific setup, customer teams are able to precisely set the springs and dampers, stabilisers, suspension height, track and camber. The servo-assisted, direct ratio rack-and-pinion steering likewise contributes to agile handling. The development team paid particular attention to the vehicle's predictable handling and good controllability at the critical limits. In these respects the SLS AMG GT3 has already scored top marks from racing drivers all over the world.
Neither did the AMG engineers accept any compromises when it came to the brakes: Good deceleration is ensured by a fade-resistant and very effective steel racing braking system with composite technology and adjustable racing ABS. Rapidly replaceable brake linings reduce idle time during endurance races. The pneumatic jacking system with four plungers integrated into the underbody allows fast pit stops and tyre-changes.
Functionality and safety are dominant features in the cockpit of the new Mercedes-AMG GT3. In addition to high passive safety standards, ergonomics was very high up in the list of development specifications. A clearly laid-out interior, ergonomic access to the controls and good ventilation to ease driver stress are very important aspects during sprints and endurance races.
The cockpit layout is basically the same as that of the road going sports car: the low, sloping dashboard resembles a powerful wing, and emphasises the width of the car. Numerous controls are arranged in the prominent centre console, whose shape is reminiscent of an NACA air intake, e.g. the main switch, the switch activating the ignition and the starter button for the V8 engine. A manual brake balance adjustment is located next to the rotary switch for traction control and ABS. Reverse gear and the fire extinguishing system can also be activated on the centre console.
The quick-release racing steering wheel eases access and egress. Like that of the pedal cluster, its position is adjustable within a wide range for rapid adaptation to different sizes of driver. As only the steering wheel and pedals are adjusted, but not the seat shell, the car's centre of gravity and therefore the wheel load distribution always remain the same. This safeguards the setup during endurance races, where up to four different drivers often take the wheel. It also ensures that each driver is seated in the safest position within the confines of the rollover cage. Ergonomically arranged shift paddles allow gear changes without the driver's hands leaving the wheel – a further safety aspect. The driver is able to activate the two-way radio, headlamp flasher or drink function using keys on the steering wheel.
The central display is optimally positioned in the driver's field of vision. The so-called DDU (Digital Display Unit) provides all relevant information such as road speed, engine speed, operating temperatures, lap times, current gear and upshift indicator. A function key on the steering wheel is also used to switch between the information shown by the colour display.
The safety concept of the Mercedes-AMG GT3 translates the exemplary safety level of the road going GT to the racetrack. The development focus was on the greatest possible driver safety. One of the central elements of this philosophy is the carbon-fibre seat shell for the driver, which has a specially developed structure providing much greater protection than a conventional racing seat. The already well-proven concept of the SLS AMG GT3 was further optimised and adapted to the current FIA requirements.
Thanks to its special shape, the safety cell bolted to the rollover cage and aluminium spaceframe provides a high level of protection for the driver's shoulders, pelvis and legs, and it is also compatible with the HANS system (Head and Neck Support). The HANS system helps to prevent serious head, neck and spinal injuries, and is mandatory in many race series. The seat shell is individually foam-padded for every driver, features a six-point seat belt with reinforced anchorage points and provides an outstanding level of occupant protection.
Additional protection is ensured by the rollover cage of high-strength steel, which is bolted to the aluminium spaceframe and helps to rigidify this even further. It too was optimised for easier access and egress by the driver. An escape hatch is integrated into the roof, so that the driver can be rapidly rescued in an emergency if e.g. no access is possible via the doors. For reasons of balance, the carbon-fibre safety fuel tank is located directly behind the passenger cell and features an inner sac of elastic rubber.
Production is in close cooperation between Mercedes-AMG GmbH and HWA AG, at the Affalterbach plant. A long-standing motor racing partner of Mercedes-Benz, HWA AG is one of the most successful teams in international motor sport: in total, the team won ten driver's titles (DTM and ITC) and three team titles for Mercedes-Benz and as such is the most successful team in the history of the DTM.
BMW has set a course for the future in GT racing with the presentation of the newly developed BMW M6 GT3 at the 66th IAA Cars 2015 in Frankfurt am Main (DE). The racing version of the BMW M6 Coupe will be sent into action by numerous private teams from the 2016 season in a host of championships and renowned race events around the world as part of the BMW Sports Trophy.
BMW Motorsport has channelled its vast well of experience amassed since 2010 with the BMW M6 GT3’s successful predecessor, the BMW Z4 GT3, into the development of the new car. Indeed, the new GT3 racer boasts a raft of improvements, particularly in the areas of drivability and economy. One example is the use of a series-produced engine with M TwinPower Turbo technology, which develops higher output and an increase in torque. Moreover, with its centrallypositioned driver’s seat and long wheelbase, the BMW M6 GT3 offers a driving feeling unparalleled on the racing scene. The net price of the car is 379,000 Euros.
The BMW M6 GT3 weighs less than 1,300 kilograms, and the transaxle drive concept, sequential six-speed racing gearbox and body aerodynamics optimised in the BMW wind tunnel also highlight the imminent arrival of a full-blooded racer from BMW Motorsport in 2016. The reliability, efficiency and ease of maintenance of the BMW M6 GT3 will likewise be tuned to master the demands of endurance racing, and its longer wheelbase promises to deliver significantly improved handling characteristics compared with the BMW Z4 GT3. As well as the car itself, BMW M6 GT3 customers will also benefit from the service laid on by BMW Motorsport support engineers and a trackside supply of parts.
In May 2015, ahead of the 24-hour race at the Nürburgring-Nordschleife circuit in Germany, BMW Motorsport customers from around the world were treated to an exclusive first glimpse of the BMW M6 GT3 – not to mention a detailed presentation of the car by drivers and engineers – at a “closed room” event at the BMW M Testcenter Nürburg. The GT racing car was subsequently introduced to fans of “the most powerful letter in the world” at the traditional M Night event on the Friday before the classic endurance race in the “Green Hell”. Customer teams in North America were able to feast their eyes on the BMW M6 GT3 for the first time at the United SportsCar Championship (USCC) in Watkins Glen (US), where the racing car was given its first public appearance on the other side of the Atlantic in late June.The BMW M6 GT3 was then revealed to teams, drivers and fans at the Spa-Francorchamps 24-hour race in Belgium – the most important GT race in the world. And now, the car has appeared in BMW Motorsport racing livery for the first time at the IAA.
The BMW M6 GT3 has undergone an extensive programme of testing on a variety of circuits over the course of 2015. This has allowed the experienced BMW works drivers to amass many valuable kilometres at the wheel of the BMW M6 GT3 and to carry out important work on the baseline set-up of the new GT and endurance racing challenger. This new poster car for customer racing is now undergoing a final round of fine-tuning prior to its race debut in the coming year.
Mercedes-AMG will ring in the 2015 motorsport season at the beginning of March with the sonorous sound of the V8 engine: the new Mercedes-AMG GT3, with which the Mercedes-Benz sports car and high-performance brand is systematically expanding its motorsports presence, will be making its debut appearance at the Geneva Motor Show. Developed to comply with the FIA's GT3 race rules, the racing car will compete in the world's most hotly contested customer race series. Cutting-edge racing technology and spectacular design predestine the new challenger for victories. The new GT3 is based on the Mercedes-AMG GT, which is being launched in just a few days' time. Following an intensive test phase, the new AMG racing car will be shipped to the first customer teams at the end of 2015.
The Mercedes-AMG GT3 will blaze new trails in customer sports with its intelligent vehicle concept. The excellent racetrack performance of the standard GT already provides the best possible basis for this. "We are entering a hard-fought and hotly contested competitive environment with the new Mercedes-AMG GT3. The high technological standard and fair race rules are spurring us on to push to take pole position with our new customer racing car. You can only give credible proof of your ambition to lead if you're beating the very best in the game," commented Tobias Moers, Chairman of the Board of Management of Mercedes-AMG GmbH.
The standard Mercedes-AMG GT already provides the ideal prerequisites for the GT3 racing model, with its low centre of gravity, perfect distribution of weight and wide track width. For this layout guarantees precise cornering properties, high lateral acceleration, first-class agility, a high level of traction and low inertia when having to change direction fast. On the different race circuits, all of these attributes give the driver the advantages necessary to achieve top placements.
Even at a standstill, the new Mercedes-AMG GT3 is the embodiment of undiluted power. Its matt paintwork in designo selenite grey magno covers the muscular contours like a second skin. The widened vehicle body, the large air intakes, the diffuser and the huge rear aerofoil all signalise a desire to attack. Every modification to the bodywork has been made for the purpose of maximising power output and aerodynamic performance.
As in the roadgoing version, the vehicle structure of the GT3 consists of a very lightweight yet extremely rigid aluminium spaceframe, offering outstanding protection for the driver. The driver is further protected by the resilient carbon-fibre seat pan and an integral roll-over cage made from high-tensile steel. In order to reduce the vehicle weight further still, the engine cover, doors, front wing, front and rear aprons, sidewalls, side skirts, diffuser, boot lid and rear aerofoil are all made from particularly lightweight yet high-strength carbon-fibre.
Powerful acceleration is ensured by the seasoned and now further enhanced AMG 6.3-litre V8 engine taken from the SLS AMG GT3. User-friendly technology, excellent reliability, long maintenance intervals and the high-revving naturally aspirated engine with low running costs made it the engine of choice for the new AMG customer sports model. The six-speed sequential racing gearbox for the GT3 is - as is the case in the standard GT - mounted in a transaxle configuration on the rear axle, thereby facilitating optimum weight distribution. They also have double-wishbone suspension - made almost entirely from aluminium - in common. These solutions once again demonstrate how closely linked regular production technology and racing technology are at AMG.
Nissan announced a partnership with Always Evolving (AE) to campaign two GT Academy Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 racing cars for the 2015 Pirelli World Challenge season. Nissan GT Academy North America 2011 winner Bryan Heitkotter will drive one of the team cars, while Australian open-wheel and GT star James Davison will pilot the second car. Featuring logos from the GT Academy program, the two cars will be co-sponsored by Replay XD and NISMO. AE will utilise AIM Autosport for much of the car preparation and on-track support during the season. AIM won the 2012 IMSA GTD team, driver and manufacturer championships, as well as the 2013 manufacturer title, while campaigning a Ferrari. “Nissan couldn’t be happier to have Always Evolving and AIM as Nissan’s partners to campaign the first GT3 spec GT-Rs in the U.S. in Pirelli World Challenge,” said Rick Kulach, Nissan North America Motorsports Manager.
“This partnership is a great opportunity to showcase Bryan’s talents alongside James, who is a rising star in motorsports. It’s exciting to have a GT Academy champion in a great car racing at this level.” Based in Los Angeles, Always Evolving Racing was founded in 2013 by Erik Davis and Roger Rodas to combine the friends’ passion for cars with their desire to support their favourite charities. Following a tragic automobile accident late in 2013 that took Rodas’ life, Davis elected to continue with Always Evolving in his friend’s honour. “We are extremely excited to partner with Nissan in Pirelli World Challenge,” said Erik Davis, Chairman of AE. “Our two brands have had a distant relationship for many years, and to be able to now officially launch an effort together bringing the Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 to North America is humbling to say the least. We look forward to showcasing the team, our drivers, the GT Academy and our sponsors in a very competitive platform.”
Heitkotter, 34, won North America’s first gamer-to-racer GT Academy competition in 2011. In 2012 and 2013 while driving a Nissan 370Z NISMO for Doran Racing, Heitkotter earned three pole positions, two second qualifying spots, four top 10 finishes and a podium. In 2014, Bryan switched to a Nissan Altima for the CA Sports team. There, he earned three podiums and four top five finishes in the Pirelli World Challenge Touring Car (TC) category in six events. Most recently, behind the wheel of the Doran #41 370Z NISMO, Heitkotter and GT Academy teammate Nick McMillen finished sixth overall in the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Series (CTSCC) race at Daytona International Speedway in January 2015. “I have been watching the Pirelli World Challenge gain momentum over the past couple years, and I’m absolutely thrilled to help represent Nissan in this highly competitive series,” said Heitkotter. “The GT-R has proven to be a spectacular racing car, and I can’t wait to see what we can all accomplish together.” Davison, 28, was born in Melbourne, Australia and moved to the United States when he was 18 years of age to develop his skills in open-wheel racing. His career highlights include a 2005 victory in Formula BMW at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, a runner-up finish in the 2007 Star Mazda Championship, and second spot in the 2009 Indy Lights Championship.
Davison ran up front during the 2014 Indianapolis 500 driving for Always Evolving KV Racing Technology, finishing the race in 16th position. In his limited time in sports cars he has always been at the front, driving for the TRG-Aston Martin team in IMSA competition. Davison has recorded five consecutive poles in IMSA including pole position at the 2015 Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway. “We have great confidence in Erik (Davis)’s vision and ability to campaign a competitive car at a high level every race,” added Kulach. “James Davison is not only a talented young race driver, but he’s also a great sportsman and will be an outstanding representative for the Nissan brand.”
The first Pirelli World Challenge Race for 2015 will be at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas March 2015. Television broadcast times have not yet been announced and the series will be webcast via www.world-challengetv.com
BMW’s new figurehead for the GT racing scene has been given its first run: last Saturday, the test track on the premises of the BMW factory in Dingolfing (DE) provided the stage for the roll-out of the BMW M6 GT3, with which BMW teams will compete in national and international series, as well as at iconic endurance races, from 2016 onwards. The car left the garage for the first time at precisely 14:00 with Jörg Müller (DE) at the wheel. This gave the BMW works driver the honour of creating the next milestone in the development of the BMW M6 GT3. “This is a big moment for everyone who has worked so intensely and passionately on the development of the BMW M6 GT3 in recent months,” said BMW Motorsport Director Jens Marquardt. “This car incorporates all the experience we have gained in recent years on the endurance and GT racing circuits. We are well on schedule with the development, and are confident we will be able to take to the track in 2016 with a package that is competitive from the outset. We still have a lot of work ahead of us, but I would like to take this opportunity to say a big thank you to everyone who has been involved with this fantastic project.”
Müller was thrilled with his outing in Dingolfing: “It is a fantastic moment when you walk into the garage and see this stunningly beautiful car. I am very proud to have taken it out for its first few kilometres. A roll-out is obviously just an initial performance test but, on the whole, everything was very good and we had no problems. The engine really impressed me. It is powerful and has good torque, which is important for a car like this. I am confident that BMW Motorsport will provide its customers with a fantastic racing car, in the BMW M6 GT3.” The development of the BMW M6 GT3 is progressing according to plan. It is powered by a 4.4-litre V8 M TwinPower Turbo production engine, which has been the subject of modifications for its use on the racetrack. It has dry sump lubrication and generates over 500 hp, with a total car weight of less than 1,300 kilograms.
Further features of the BMW M6 GT3 include the transaxle drive concept, a sixspeed sequential racing transmission, and powerful motorsport electronics. The chassis’ aerodynamic properties were optimised in the BMW wind tunnel. The BMW M6 Coupé provides an ideal basis, on which the BMW Motorsport engineers have worked meticulously to hone the BMW M6 GT3 for use in motor racing. Priority was given to ensuring the drivers are as safe as physically possible. To offer the drivers of the BMW M6 GT3 as much protection as possible against injury, BMW Motorsport itself developed and produced the FIA-approved safety cell, which complies with the very latest safety standards. The engineers also placed great emphasis on efficiency, ease of maintenance and reliability, which is particularly crucial at the 24-hour classics.
Nissan global motorsport and performance division Nismo will head to Mount Panorama with one of the strongest driver line-ups in the field for next month’s Bathurst 12 Hour. The Nissan GT-R will return to race at Bathurst, Australia next month with a strong squad of Nismo Global Exchange drivers, namely Rick Kelly, Wolfgang Reip, Katsumasa Chiyo and Alex Buncombe. Competing under the ‘Nismo Athlete Global Team’ banner, the quartet will be part of history as the GT-R returns to Mount Panorama – 22 years after its last race at the famous circuit. As previously announced, Australian Nissan V8 Supercars driver Rick Kelly will be the entry’s local representative. Kelly needs no introduction on Australian shores, having been one of the leading V8 Supercars drivers over the past decade. He is a former V8 Supercars Champion and winner of the Bathurst 1000 in 2003 and 2004.
Wolfgang Reip won GT Academy Europe in 2012, beating 830,000 gamers to the top prize. He is well-accustomed to racing the GT-R after taking podium finishes in the Blancpain Endurance and FIA GT Series in 2013, his first season of racing. Katsumasa Chiyo is a young driver from Nissan’s driver development programme in Japan. His career has followed the traditional route of karting and single-seaters – where he was Japanese F3 Champion (N Class) in 2011. He now competes in Super GT for Nissan.
Alex Buncombe has been an integral part of GT Academy since the programme was launched in 2008. He plays a vital role as team-mate to the recent graduates. “We have wanted to return to Bathurst with a factory Nissan GT-R for a long time,” said Nissan’s Director of Global Motorsport, Darren Cox. “It’s great that we can field a team that shows the international nature of our driving talent and once again promote a Nismo version of the Nissan GT-R. The Nismo Global Driver Exchange continues to provide priceless opportunities to our global drivers. They are competing with history at Bathurst. Last time we were there with ‘Godzilla’, Jim Richards and Mark Skaife scored back-to-back Bathurst 1000 wins in 1991 and 1992.”
The 2014 Bathurst 12 Hour will be held on February 7-9.