There was plenty of overtaking and enough for a BMW fan to cheer at, even if the Roundel was not first over the line in the headline Australian GT race.
To make the weekend even more special, one of our attendees, Sam O’Neil scored a hot lap with Steve Richards in the GT4 M4, courtesy of BMW Australia.
Sam collected his pass from BMW Australia’s headquarters in Mulgrave on the Friday in his E30 convertible, which attracted the attention of several staff members. “Cool E30” was the remark. Despite the inclement weather they had him line the car up in front of the corporate signage for a photo or two!
He described his hot lap as awesome. “WOW, that thing flies, the sheer force when Steven braked, I thought I would hit the screen. And the way it was gripping around the bends and hitting the apex, the car just does not slide at all. Half way around the track Steven did the thumbs up just to check if I was still with him, and boy was I ever!”
Needless to say he was very happy.
The great thing about racing at this level is you can go into the pits and chat with the drivers and the crew, as long as they are not too busy or just getting ready to send the car out.
The Steve Richards Motorsport (SRM) pit was not only welcoming, but professionally kitted out with nice white wall with a count down timer and TV screen, floor matting and all the gear you could need neatly stowed - almost F1 level.
Sadly the results on the track do not match the dedication of the team, stuck as they are with the rigid “balance of performance” settings, which are applied worldwide in GT3 racing.
Basically all the GT3 cars from all the manufacturers are adjusted to give identical lap times on a FIA designated circuit with a FIA designated driver. Those settings result in quite a variation in performance at any given track.
The BMW M6 does well at Bathurst, especially over the top of the mountain, at Phillip Island and The Bend, where SRM finished third in Round 1.
Sandown does not suit the M6 as well, but it is fearsome under brakes.
Starting race 1 on Sunday in seventh spot, Steve had made up one place before the compulsory pit stops.
Here is another form of handicapping unique to Australia - all drivers are graded. Grade 1 drivers have to have a driver swap and a longer pit stop.
Steve is a Grade 1 driver so the car resumed with Ricky Capo in the drivers seat in tenth. Unfortunately he had a spin and finished the race in 13th.
This meant a starting position of 13th for race 2. Steve managed to work his way up to tenth before the pit stop. Ricky then finished in tenth, not far behind ninth, being the fastest car on track in clear air.
For the M6 overtaking at Sandown is tricky with the best spots being under brakes at the end of the back straight, or through the S bend to the start of the front straight.
To make easier for spectators each car carries a digital display, just above the race number in the windscreen, which shows their race position in class or how long the car has been stopped in the pits (minimum pit stop times apply).
The other race featuring BMWs was the Production Car race which was won by BMW in all four starts over the weekend. BMWs 1st and 2nd in the final race and 3 or 4 in the top 10 in each race.
Sadly, due to the weekend being on Mother's Day, the crowds were low. However we proudly showed our BMWs to the few who were there.
The next round of the Shannons Nationals is at Phillip Island June 1 – 3.
The Committee | BMW Drivers Club Melbourne
The Ultimate Driving Club