It’s a typically Melbourne rainy June morning, the phone rings and Andrew leads with “I know it’s late notice, but…” The answer is emphatic “Is a Bimmer Bavarian?” Plans are cancelled and soon after our new M4 Competition is pointed south on Eastlink, a camera and one very keen enthusiast its contents.
An evening at the workshop of BMW Team SRM with the M6GT3 hosted by Stephen Richards himself is too good an opportunity to pass up. The BMW Car Club of Victoria invited 50 members for the evening, a number that was very quickly over-subscribed.
Arriving early to get some shots, Steve greets me with a smile and a warm handshake. The workshop is an enthusiasts dream. It’s sparse, but what happens here is clearly serious stuff. Hoists line the perimeter, with race cars sitting standby. Steve’s massive transporter is inside, resplendent in its M tricolour livery, packed and ready for his exploits in Darwin in the coming week.
The M6GT3 is the showpiece, dominating the middle of the workshop. Its wheels aren’t fitted and its sitting up on boards and casters making it easy to manoeuvre while dormant. Despite its elevated setting it still exudes menace – something easily attributed to its sheer width. The M6 is a big race car, something that works in its favour, the massive floor adding always-appreciated downforce without creating un-appreciated drag.
Steve is a great host, engaging the club members and offering his insights and vast experience. The level of access is unprecedented. He lifts off the engine cover to reveal an almost completely standard engine as fitted to the M5, M6 and X5/X6 M road cars. It actually makes less power in the M6GT3 due to a complex set of rules called the ‘Balance of Performance’ that even out the field. To the members delight, he fires up the engine. With minimal exhaust to the side-mounted exits it sounds tremendous, almost maniacal.
A few lucky members are offered the opportunity to “try it on” – Steve’s words, not mine. The left hand driving position is a long way back compared to the road car and it’s low. Even at 6’5″, I feel like I am peeking over the bonnet and looking through a letterbox. “Is it hard to place on the track?” I ask, “You’re not meant to look over the bonnet” says Steve, “you’re looking well ahead, so it’s really easy.” Point taken.
I asked a few in the gathering their verdict on the M6GT3, the answer is fairly unanimous. It’s epic.
Authors note: This is another unpublished article from the now-defunct Doncaster BMW Evolution magazine. The photography is poor at best, a function of not staying in practice with my SLR and being blissfully ignorant of such.