Introduced for the 2013 American Le Mans Series (ALMS), the Z4 GTE replaced the successful M3 GT, which brought BMW the team and manufacturers’ championships in 2010 and 2011. Compared to the Z4 GT3 it is based on, the GTE sports a less sophisticated aerodynamic kit, with simpler rear wing and diffuser, although it is significantly wider. The modifications were to make the Z4 suitable for the ALMS, which merged with the Grand-Am Sports Car Series to form the United SportsCar Championship (USCC) in 2014.

Following a competitive maiden season in 2013, the Z4 race car received a chassis update in 2014 and went on to score six podium finishes in the GTLM class of the USCC with Team RLL. BMW placed fourth in the manufacturer’s standing, below Porsche, Dodge and Chevrolet, but above Ferrari. Having received a slightly revised aero package for 2015, the Z4 finished the 24 Hours of Daytona second in the GTLM class and fifth overall. With the 12 Hours of Sebring just around the corner, BMW unveiled a special livery for one of the two cars, to celebrate 40 years since winning the famed endurance race for the first time.

The car in question will hit the track March 21st with Bill Auberlen, Dirk Werner, Augusto Farfus and Bruno Spengler behind the wheel.

Continue reading to learn more about the BMW Z4 GTLM.

  • 2015 BMW Z4 GTLM
  • Year:
    2015
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • 0-60 time:
    4.5 sec. (Est.)
  • Top Speed:
    155 mph (Est.)
  • Price:
    100000 (Est.)
  • car segment:
  • body style:

Exterior

2015 BMW Z4 GTLM High Resolution Exterior
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2015 BMW Z4 GTLM High Resolution Exterior
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2015 BMW Z4 GTLM High Resolution Exterior
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The tribute livery is not only exciting to look at, but the fact that it mimics the CLS' makes it that much more spectacular.

Spotting the new livery around Sebring will be easy as pie, as the new paint job is rather conspicuous. The No. 25 car will be adorned by the same blue, purple and red stripes of the M division set on a white backgrounds, but the layout is completely different now, making the car stand out. BMW and classic racing enthusiasts will instantly recognize the livery as being identical to the one BMW of North America used when it won the 12 Hours of Le Mans for the first time in 1975.

The stripe pattern has been transferred from the iconic 3.0 CSL race car front to rear, adorning just about every body panel, including the roof, the front bumper and the side skirts. The tribute livery is not only exciting to look at, but the fact that it mimics the CLS’ makes it that much more spectacular. This Bimmer will be one of the main attractions at this year’s 12 Hours of Sebring.

Interior

Inside, the No. 25 car is a carryover from 2014. The cockpit includes the list of race-spec equipment required by GTLM, such as an FIA-homologated racing seat with harness, a fire extinguisher, a full roll cage, and a radio system. Although it retains some of the features found in the production car as required by the sanctioning body, the GTLM is mostly stripped of any creature comforts available in the standard Z4.

Drivetrain

2015 BMW Z4 GTLM High Resolution Exterior
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Much like the interior and the outer shell, the drivetrain remained unaltered for the 2015 season. The Z4 GTLM employs the same turbocharged, 4.4-liter V-8 engine and six-speed sequential sport transmission, lapping race tracks across the U.S. with about 490 horsepower and 354 pound-feet of torque at its disposal. Tipping the scales at only 2,711 pounds, the Z4 GTLM likely needs less than four seconds to hit 60 mph from a standing start.

Competition

Porsche 911 RSR

2013 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR High Resolution Exterior
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With two cars fielded by Porsche North America and one driven by the folks at Team Falken Tire, the 911 RSR took three wins and four podiums to claim the manufacturer’s championship in the 2014 USCC. Powered by a 4.0-liter, inline-six engine rated at nearly 500 horsepower, the current 911 RSR was unveiled in 2013 as a lighter and more-powerful version of its predecessor. With most of its body made from carbon fiber and its center of gravity significantly lower than that of its forerunner, the new racer is not only quicker around the track, but also easier to maintain and repair.

For 2015, the 911 returns mostly unchanged to the United SportsCar Championship, with the same teams gunning to clinch the trophy against competition from Chevrolet, BMW, Ferrari and Aston Martin.

Chevrolet Corvette C7.R

2014 Chevrolet Corvette C7.R High Resolution Exterior
- image 538159

Launched at the 2014 Detroit Auto Show, the Corvette C7.R is GM’s latest and most spectacular endurance racer. Developed alongside the road-going Corvette Z06 to replace the Le Mans-winning C6.R, the C7.R borrows most of its design cues from the C7-generation ’Vette, while making use of an updated, 5.5-liter V-8 engine. The standard output is around 500 horsepower, but the C7.R’s mill can be easily tweaked to develop close to 1,000, according to Chevy.

The new race car made its debut on the track in early 2014 and raced a full season in the United SportsCar Championship. The two cars fielded by Corvette Racing scored four wins and one additional podium in the GTLM class, finishing the season in second place, behind Viper-powered SRT Motorsport, in the teams championship. In the manufacturer standings, Chevrolet only managed a third position, behind Porsche and Dodge, but above BMW and Ferrari.

Ferrari 458 Italia GT2

2011 Ferrari 458 Italia GT2 High Resolution Exterior
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Based on the mighty 458 Italia, the GT2 employs aerodynamic enhancements specific to the class and takes on the track with the same 4.5-liter V-8 engine under the hood. The mid-mounted mill churns out nearly 500 horsepower, and the car has won several events since its introduction in 2011.

So far, the Italia GT2 won the 2012 and 2014 24 Hours of Le Mans and the 2012 12 Hours of Sebring in the GTE Pro class, as well as two editions of the Petit Le Mans. The Italian racer also took several manufacturer and team titles in its class, including the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup, the Le Mans Series, the International GT Open, the FIA World Endurance Championship, and the European Le Mans Series.

In the 2014 United SportsCar Championship, the Ferrari fielded by Risi Competizione scored two wins and a third place. Although that wasn’t enough to help Ferrari from finishing last in the manufacturer’s championship, the performance was nevertheless impressive considering Porsche, Dodge, Chevy and BMW each had at least two cars in the series.

Conclusion

2015 BMW Z4 GTLM Exterior
- image 621494

Granted, this Sebring car sports nothing new except for the CSL-inspired livery, but the new suit is what makes it special. Very few manufacturers can brag about having won the famed endurance race four decades ago while still going strong in the 21st century, and seeing the Z4 GTLM bringing this iconic livery back into the spotlight should put smiles on a lot of faces at the 2015 12 Hours of Sebring. I know I’ll be watching the race to catch a glimpse of the No. 25 car.

  • Leave it
    • * Very few updates for 2015
    • * Stiff competition

Press Release

On 21st March, BMW Team RLL will contest the 63rd staging of the legendary 12-hour race of Sebring (US) in the US state of Florida. The endurance classic is also the second race of the 2015 United SportsCar Championship (USCC). BMW Motorsport and BMW of North America celebrate a special anniversary on their return to Sebring this season: 40 years ago, BMW Motorsport got its first Sebring victory, with the BMW 3.0 CSL.

2015 BMW Z4 GTLM High Resolution Exterior
- image 621491

In honour of that success, the two BMW Z4 GTLMs of BMW Team RLL will sport special designs as they compete on the “Sebring International Raceway”. Car number 25 will carry the colours of the winning BMW 3.0 CSL of 1975. At an unveiling ceremony, which was part of the “Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance” in northern Florida, BMW of North America presented the anniversary design of the vehicles to the public for the first time.

Many of the successful heroes of that time took the opportunity to attend the presentation. Forty years after the historic victory, then winners Brian Redman (US), Sam Posey (US) and Hans-Joachim Stuck (DE) were reunited on Amelia Island. Jochen Neerpasch, the first managing director of BMW Motorsport GmbH, and BMW Motorsport Director Jens Marquardt were also among the guests. They all had front row seats as current BMW Team RLL driver Bill Auberlen (US) completed the first presentation laps in the BMW Z4 GTLM with the anniversary design.

2015 BMW Z4 GTLM High Resolution Exterior
- image 621492

1975 was a significant year in the history of BMW in North America: BMW of North America was founded, and just a few days later came the historic first victory with the BMW 3.0 CSL in Sebring. After finishing second and fourth in the GTLM class at the season opener in Daytona (US), BMW Team RLL is hoping to add another chapter to the BMW success story at this year’s classic.

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