2014 BMW Z4 sDrive35is and BMW Z4 GTE race car at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca

And what is the Z4 GTE like to drive? Veteran BMW pilot Bill Auberlen figures, “It is the best GT car they’ve built, handling-wise. I didn’t think it was possible because of how short it is, but they somehow engineered it with downforce, track width, and the suspension . . . the car is absolutely a joy to drive. It points in like a knife and then you expect the rear to let loose because you are going in so sharp on the nose, but the rear just keeps making grip the whole time.” Compared to the M3, the driver sits rearward in the Z4 and Auberlen points out, “If you sit far forward and the car slides in the back, you don’t feel the movement. Now you’re right over the axle so one or two inches of lateral movement goes to your brain and makes you think you’re really sliding a lot, but you get used to that quickly.”

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While the M3 needed a season of racing before winning the GT team and manufacturer championships in 2010 and 2011, the Z4 nailed a one-two class finish in its second outing, Long Beach. At Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, the leaders of the GT field staged a four-hour nose-to-tail bar fight, with the top half-dozen runners covered by a few seconds. Dirk Müller and John Edwards put one Z4 GTE in third place and the second Z4 suffered a broken differential—the RLL team’s first ALMS mechanical failure since 2009.

2014 BMW Z4 sDrive35is and Z4 GTE Race Car photo gallery

By John Lamm