There is some sort of racing for just about everything that has a motor. And while there might be a limited number of governing bodies for riding lawnmower racing, car racing has a dizzying number of organizations, each with its own set of rules. And that means that even though BMW has already built a version of the M6 to conform to the FIA’s GT3 regulations, a new car will have to be built in order to compete in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. This is a fairly new Championship, with its inaugural season having just happened in 2014. The Championship is actually just the result of the merging of the American Le Man Series and the Rolex Sports Car Series.

Since the series has its roots in the American Le Mans Series, the “LM” that you see in the name of the car stands for “Le Mans,” and the whole GTLM class is really just a copy of ACO’s GTE class for Le Mans and Le Mans series racing. The M6 GTLM is based heavily on the M6 GT3, but it is not as similar as the old Z4 GT3 was to the Z4 GTLM.

Updated 01/282016: BMW Team RLL today revealed two commemorative 100th anniversary liveries for the new M6 GTLM race cars. The new livery pays tribute to the iconic BMW 3.0 CSL which claimed the first victory at Daytona.

Continue reading to learn more about the 2016 BMW M6 GTLM.

  • 2016 BMW M6 GTLM
  • Year:
    2016
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • 0-60 time:
    4 sec. (Est.)
  • Top Speed:
    186 mph (Est.)
  • car segment:
  • body style:

Exterior

2016 BMW M6 GTLM High Resolution Exterior
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The GTE class that GTLM is based on started out as being essentially the same as the FIA’s GT3 class, and the same cars that participated in GT3 events could race at Le Mans or in an ACO races without making changes to the car. But for the 2016 season, the GTE class will be moving away from the GT3 model a bit. The changes are mostly to give teams more free reign when it comes to aerodynamics, so what changes there are from the M6 GT3 will all be on the outside of the car.

Whether these changes will really be visible or not is a different question altogether, since BMW didn’t release any photos of the new machine. But the GT3 car, which is the one actually pictured in this article, is already a great looking machine. The car is obviously based heavily on the production M6, but it is given a number of aerodynamic enhancements and BMW racing livery. It would be safe to assume that the M6 GTLM will look basically the same as the M6 GT3, if not identical.

100th Anniversary Livery

2016 BMW M6 GTLM High Resolution Exterior
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During the 2016 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship (IWSC), BMW Team RLL races a No. 25 car sporting the historic blue, purple, and red colors of the M division. This combination was chosen to pay homage to the iconic BMW 3.0 CSL, which contested its first season of racing in North America back in 1975 and claimed the first victory at Daytona in the same livery and wearing the same number.

However, the team’s second car has received a brand-new, bespoke outfit that will be showcased at the 24 Hours of Daytona to mark BMW’s 100th anniversary. The coupe features a lattice design that creates a new type of 3D effect with reflective vinyl applied to the white body. It’s not exactly striking when compared to the M-liveried car, but it’s definitely unique. The anniversary car will wear No. 100.

Interior

Like with most race cars, the M6 GTLM will have a completely stripped-out interior with just one racing bucket, a roll cage, and some select gauges and controls. The seat is bolted to the floor and the pedals and steering wheel are adjusted to fit the driver instead. If the GT3 car is any indicator, the weight saving on the race car trims off about 1,200 pounds from the road-going version of the M6.

Drivetrain

2016 BMW M6 GTLM High Resolution Exterior
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BMW did not go into any detail about the drivetrain for the M6 GTLM, saying only that it carried a “lightly modified version of the V-8 production engine.” This is the same thing that BMW said about GT3 car, although BMW revealed the all-important detail about the engine producing 592 horsepower instead of the production car’s 560. It’s possible that the same will be true of the GTLM car, but there is a small problem with that. GTE regulations cap engine displacement for turbo/supercharged cars at four liters and the production and GT3 versions of the M6 have 4.4-liter engines.

That said, most governing bodies are more interested in power, and it is very possible that so long as BMW keeps it the same as the GT3 car, the IMSA will be willing to give the car a waiver. BMW could also de-stroke the engine to bring displacement down to four liters, but that isn’t the sort of thing that you’d describe as “lightly modified.”

Competition

Porsche 911 RSR

2013 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR High Resolution Exterior
- image 499730

The 911 RSR is a staple of basically every GT racing series in the world, but it is here in the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship where it grabbed what is arguably its most significant win. At the 2015 season-closing Petit Le Mans, a 911 RSR (a racing version of the 911 GT3 road car) took the overall win, beating the many purpose-built prototype racers also participating in the race. That’s an incredibly rare thing for a GT car to do, and it shows why the 911 RSR is such a popular car for racing.

Read more about the Porsche 911 RSR here.

Chevrolet Corvette C7.R

2014 Chevrolet Corvette C7.R High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
- image 538160

Though other cars might be more popular worldwide, in this series, the Corvettes are actually more numerous. This is perhaps because the Corvette is built specifically for the GTLM and GTE classes, while most other cars that take place in these events are modified from GT3-spec racers. The 5.5-liter V-8 is the biggest allowable for naturally aspirated engines, and Chevrolet is able to draw on an impressive history of GTE class wins for experience.

Read more about the Chevrolet Corvette C7.R here.

Conclusion

2016 BMW M6 GTLM High Resolution Exterior
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Since the American Le Mans Series turned into the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, BMW has yet to rack up any wins. But so far, BMW has only used the old Z4 GTLM. The M6 GTLM is a more powerful (presumably, based on the GT3) car, and this may be what pushes BMW into contention with Porsche and Chevrolet. But even if the M6 GTLM turns out to be a lot better than the Z4-based car that it replaces, it is in a fiercely competitive class, and going up some of the heaviest hitters in the world of racing. It is a car that has its work cut out for it. Although this does mean that if it wins, we will know that it is a truly incredible car.

  • Leave it
    • * Sounds like an exciting new race car, but is basically just a GT3
    • * Potentially needs a waiver in order to race
    • * Will have a hell of a time competing with more established models

Updated History

Updated 11/17/2015: The new M6 GTLM recently completed its first US test at Sebring International Raceway and will make its U.S. debut on Nov. 17-18 IMSA test at Daytona International Speedway. Its first race will be the 2016 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, January 30-31.

Press Release

While the BMW M6 GT3 will contest race events and series with FIA GT3 regulations as of next season, BMW Motorsport is also working on a new challenger for the elite class of North American GT racing: the BMW M6 GTLM. The plan is to field the newly developed racing car in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in 2016. BMW Team RLL will be responsible for running the BMW M6 GTLM.

2016 BMW M6 GTLM High Resolution Exterior
- image 655814

“Using the basis of our new BMW M6 GT3 to develop a car for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship was a logical step,” said BMW Motorsport Director Jens Marquardt. “The BMW M6 GTLM has all the essential ingredients to thrill fans in the USA and Canada. We are keen to continue our works commitment on the other side of the Atlantic at the highest level since the WeatherTech Championship is a fantastic stage with a high quality field and legendary venues. We feel right at home there.”

Ludwig Willisch, Chairman and CEO of BMW of North America, LLC, added: “Success in motor racing helped us prove The Ultimate Driving Machine claim in North America forty years ago and continues to be a part of the BMW marketing strategy to this day. As the largest market for BMW M in the world we are eager to delight our fans with the BMW M6 GTLM in the 2016 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.”

BMW Motorsport engineers derived the BMW M6 GTLM from the BMW M6 GT3, and the BMW M6 GTLM took part in the official “Balance of Performance” tests performed by the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) for GTLM homologation alongside GT3 testing by the FIA and ACO in Ladoux (FR). Subject to final approvals by IMSA, based in North America, the BMW M6 GTLM is expected to race in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in 2016. Like the GT3 version, the car is powered by a lightly modified version of the V8 production engine with M TwinPower Turbo Technology from the BMW M6 Coupé.

2016 BMW M6 GTLM High Resolution Exterior
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In the previous three seasons, BMW Team RLL contested the American Le Mans Series and the United SportsCar Championship with the BMW Z4 GTLM and celebrated five victories and an additional 15 podiums to date. Further milestones in the recent GT history of BMW in North America include winning the title in the American Le Mans Series in 2001 with the BMW M3 GTR (Drivers’, Team and Manufacturer titles), as well as with the BMW M3 GT in 2010 (Team and Manufacturer titles) and 2011 (Drivers’, Team and Manufacturer titles).

The 2016 season of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship opens with the 24 Hours of Daytona (US) on 30th/31st January. This is followed by a further ten events for the GTLM teams, which will take them to some of the most iconic racetracks in North America. As is tradition, the “Petit Le Mans” in Road Atlanta (US) will provide the spectacular stage for the season finale on 1st October.

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