The tight and twisty confines of the Nuremberg street circuit exposed the weaknesses of the BMW M6 GT3 last year, with the best of the Bavarian brand's four factory-supported cars placing a distant 15th out of 19 entries in second qualifying.
The M6’s race pace wasn't much better around the short 2.3km circuit, ending any hopes of Marco Wittmann scoring a third title in the season finale from eventual champion Maximilian Gotz.
Much of the development of the new M4 GT3, which entered service at the start of 2022, was focused on making it as versatile as possible to tackle a wide number of GT3 championships around the world.
The M4 still remains a large car compared to its rivals and actually has a longer wheelbase than its predecessor, but Klingmann is upbeat about how the car will perform in its first appearance at the Norisring this weekend.
“I don’t think you have to go there with a headache,” he told Motorsport.com's sister title Motorsport-Total.com. “It’s still a BMW, but the concept of the car is quite different.
“Of course, the BMW is still not as agile around a first-gear corner as a Porsche, because physically you can’t do that. But fortunately we have made a real quantum leap.
“At the beginning I also thought, 'will it be that good'? Because a Porsche simply has a small wheelbase, or an Audi is a small car.
“But a Mercedes is also a huge car – and it works on almost all tracks. So the basic concept that we have a bigger car should not be an excuse. And it’s not, because the car is much more agile."
Sheldon van der Linde, Schubert Motorsport BMW M4 GT3
Photo by: Andreas Beil
Klingmann also cited BMW's GT Daytona class victory in the Long Beach round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in April as proof that the German manufacturer has overcome the shortcoming of the M6 with its new GT3 racer.
“The biggest weakness [of the M6] was the slower the speed and the tighter the corner, the harder we found it to rotate the car," explained Klingmann. "The car always seemed very sluggish, even though it is the same size as the M4. On top of that, we had very high tyre wear on the rear axle.
"The M6 GT3 was quite difficult there [at Long Beach] because it is so tight and angled. We had the biggest problems there. And if [the M4] works there, then it will also work at the Norisring."
The M4 GT3 has a wheelbase measuring 2.917m, which is 16mm more than its predecessor. By contrast, the Porsche 911 GT3 R has a much shorter wheelbase at 2.463m, offering a theoretical advantage in tight corners.
However, project manager Achim Klein feels a longer wheelbase has its benefits and there were other reasons why the M6 struggled with handling on street circuits.
"I believe that the conclusion that the special handling of the M6 is linked to the wheelbase is simply wrong,” Klein told Motorsport.com. “We did have problems in tight corners but that wasn’t because of the wheelbase.
“For me, a car with a long wheelbase is always preferable to one with a short wheelbase. That creates a certain stability.
“I think a longer wheelbase always helps if you get the overall car set-up right.”
BMW leads both the drivers’ and the teams’ standings heading to the Norisring, largely due to Sheldon van der Linde’s impressive double win at the Lausitzring in May.
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