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Motorsport and Series Production Go Hand in Hand

One of the driving forces behind BMW’s involvement in international motorsport is the transfer of technology between the motor racing department and series production. BMW customers benefit from the knowledge gained on the race track. At the same time, the BMW Motorsport engineers access the know-how of their colleagues from series production to constantly improve upon the competitiveness of BMW racing cars in a time- and cost-efficient manner. Speed is of the essence, whether it’s a matter of tuning, development work or production processes. At the end of 2005, BMW Motorsport moved into the new complex which boasts state-of-the-art test rigs and laboratories.

The BMW Research and Innovation Centre (FIZ), the technical heart of the BMW Group, plays a key role in creating synergies between motorsport and series production. Located close to the Munich plant, the research complex is one of the most sophisticated development centers for the automobile industry in the world. Approximately 7,000 engineers, modelers, computer specialists and scientists from various research fields develop the vehicles and technologies of the future for the BMW Group here.

A diverse range of fundamental technological principles, manufacturing procedures and materials were derived from motor racing for the development of the BMW M3. This becomes most obvious in the case of the new BMW M3 GTS model. It is largely hand-built by the most skilled craftsmen at BMW M GmbH and can also be used for club racing events. For the BMW M3 GTS, the engine capacity was increased to 4.4 liters and the performance to about 450 bhp.

The car uses the M double clutch gearbox with Drivelogic, which is also available as an option for series models, for its transmission. The seven-speed M DKG Drivelogic works in line with a principle that was also developed in motorsport and allows gear changes without a loss of tractive power. Through its race-oriented modifications enhancing both performance and safety, the BMW M3 GTS is ready to go on the track and comes with the option for homologation on the road. Motor racing and series production can hardly be any closer to each other.

Barely another body component reflects the advanced technology of the BMW M3 series model as strikingly as the roof. Made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP) and with only a clear coat covering its high-tech surface, it openly displays the fibrous structure. Using CFRP reduces weight and increases agility, thanks to the car’s low center of gravity.

The use of CFRP is widespread in racing. Virtually every complete body component of the BMW M3 GT2 is made of this ultra-light and rigid material. The CFRP knowledge gained in the Formula One project was integrated into the development process, as were the years of experience possessed by the engineers at the Landshut Innovation and Technology Center (LITZ). The experts there have been working with CFRP components since 1999. Among other things, the technology for the series production of the CFRP roof, which was first used on the BMW M3 CSL in 2003, was developed here.

The performance and durability of the engine block, cylinder head and gearbox depend crucially on the quality of the casting. This is where the BMW foundry in Landshut, an integral part of the BMW Group production network, comes into its own. The components manufactured here are supplied to engine and car plants around the world and are used in virtually all vehicles – from BMW motorcycles and BMW series cars to the BMW M3 GT2 racing car. For the production of cylinder heads and crankcases, the specialists at the Landshut sand-casting center of technology have developed the recognized sand-casting processes.

A new idea, the conception stage, the construction process, the production of necessary tools, the manufacturing of the new part, the test phase – this is the cost and time-intensive process for innovations. Because motorsport demands extremely fast reaction times for progress and problem solving, time-saving processes are paramount. This is where BMW Motorsport can turn to the FIZ, and specifically to the Rapid Prototyping/Tooling Technology department.

As soon as the required parts have been designed on a CAD system, machines controlled by computers use laser beams or three-dimensional printing technology to produce scale models from resin, plastic powder, acrylate, wax or metal. This makes it possible to quickly simulate installation situations and interactions in order to be able to make modifications before the final manufacturing process.

The close connection between racing development and series production brings benefits for both sides: The BMW Motorsport engineers can use the resources and competence of their colleagues to make the BMW racing cars even faster, while using time and money efficiently. At the same time, customers directly benefit from the experiences gained by BMW in the technology booster motor racing.

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