During the ALMS off season there have been a significant number of changes to the Manufacturer’s Championship winning BMW M3s. The changes began when it was announced that Tommy Milner was being replaced by up and coming German driving star Dirk Werner. Joey Hand, Bill Auberlin and Dirk Müller will remain.
During the same time Rahal Letterman Racing, was joined by former Indy Car owner Mike Lanigan. As Lanigan is now a co-owner the team is known as Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (RLL). Changes have not just been made to personnel and naming, there have been changes made to the cars as well.
The most notable changes to the former 90 and 92 cars are the addition of BMW ///Motorsport stripes and now being numbered 55 and 56. We have been quite outspoken on the lack of stripes on the cars since their inaugural season and are very pleased to see them return along with BMW’s winning ways.
As is typical with a BMW Life Cycle Impulse or “refresh” the changes are more than skin deep.
At the end of last season both cars were set out to pasture, destined for a life of museum displays and VIP rides at BMW sponsored events. The retiring of the winning cars allowed the engineers to essentially start from the ground up with new tubs and chassis.
They started by upgrading the aerodynamics to create greater down force while being more efficient, this is the thrid generation kit. Beneath the exterior is where the larger changes occurred. Gone is the famous large golf ball stick shifter, replaced by flappy paddles on the steering wheel that are much like the street cars DCT paddles. This will allow drivers to keep both hands on the wheel and improve the time it takes to activate the shift.
Significant suspension and chassis changes were made to allow the ///M3s to race within the rules of both ALMS and Le Mans (ACO). Additional tweaks were made to accept the hardware required for the new shift system. It is unclear if any improvements were made to the already well proven engine as BMW has always kept that information close to the vest.
We can expect a formal release in the coming weeks as Sebring and the start of the race season is less than a month away. As always we will be following the team and provide exclusive coverage of the season.