2012 Bmw 1-Series M Coupe will be the pace car at the 49th Rolex 24 At Daytona

Article by Christian Andrei, on January 25, 2011

The BMW 1 Series M Coupe will be a pace car alongside an M3 at the 49th edition of the Rolex 24 at Daytona, set to take place on Jan. 28-30. The coupe, which was launched only a few weeks ago, goes on sale in May.

Dan Creed, Vice President of Marketing for BMW of North America, said that fans will get to see the M coupe from the front of the Rolex 24 field.

He claims that BMW M is synonymous with motorsport and that it’s perfect that the new 1 Series M Coupe was picked out as pace car especially since there are six BMW-powered entries in this year's field and it is the 35th anniversary of its overall win.

Aside from an on-board SPEED television camera, no other modifications were required for the 1 Series M Coupe to become a pace car. The coupe features a 335hp inline-six engine, a 6-speed manual transmission and the same suspension and brake package that’s seen in M3 Competition. 

In the past, BMW has had three class wins at the Rolex 24. These are the GT1 win of an M1 driven by Hans Stuck and Alf Gebhardt in 1981; and the two GT3 class wins at Daytona in 1997 and 1998 achieved by Team PTG M3.

During development, the objective was for the BMW 1-Series M Coupe to have a large square footprint and almost-perfect balance. Its width measures 71 inches (1,803 mm) -- exactly 4.8 inches (122mm) wider compared to its predecessor, the 1988 M3. Even so, its length is 172.4 inches (4,379 mm), just 1.3 inches (33mm) longer.

The wheelbase meanwhile is 3 inches longer at 104.7-inch (2,659 mm). Weight meanwhile is at 1,495kg DIN (3,296 lbs., preliminary). The front track width and the rear track width measure the same at 60.7 inches (1,542 mm).

Unlike the 2011 BMW 135i Coupe however, the 1-Series M Coupe is longer by 0.2 inches (5 mm), wider by 2.1 inches (53 mm), and taller by 0.5 inches (13 mm) taller. The wheelbase though is the same at 104.7 inch (2,659 mm).

In terms of the track width, the front is wider by 2.8 inches (71 mm) with the rear wider by 1.8 inches (46 mm). In terms of weight, it is less by 35kg DIN (77 lbs, preliminary). In order to accommodate the widened track, the 1-Series M Coupe makes use of its high-strength steel unibody, widened fenders and the rear quarter panels.

While most BMW 1-Series models have a moonroof, the M Coupe instead has a metal roof panel which cuts weight by as much as 35 lbs. (15 kg.). While the 2011 BMW 1-Series M Coupe was made to be the company’s most performance-oriented car, it will not come with a moonroof.

As a result of the reduction in the weight, the center of gravity is also lowered helping improve its driving dynamics. The non-use of a moonroof also helps in maximizing the head room, or as some call it, helmet room.

One of the issues that proved to be a challenge for many of BMW M's engineers is how to ensure that mass is under control while making sure that this powerful, luxurious, and high-performance coupe continues to have sure-footed responsive handling.

The solution was to have an aluminum suspension that was first created for the newest M3. This same suspension was also specifically tuned for the 1-Series M Coupe at the company’s Nϋrburgring Nordschleife test center.

As expected, designing the BMW starts with organizing the major components in a manner that allows for the near-perfect front/rear weight balance of 51.7/48.3. Almost all of the components of the front-end are composed of aluminum.

This includes the swivel bearings, front struts, central subframe, and the extra thrust panel. This panel is placed just below its engine in order to maximize lateral stiffness of the whole front section. Engineers meanwhile reconfigured the track arms, transverse arms, wheel hubs, subframe, located at its rear axle to guarantee ideal stiffness, geometry, and kinematics.

Similar to the front-end, almost every part of the five-arm rear axle is composed of aluminum as well. Even the dampers are in aluminum. The use of aluminum for many features is a new trend, particularly for this generation of BMW M models.

Press Release

BMW 1 Series M Coupe to Pace 49th Annual Rolex 24 at Daytona

Only 20 days after its world debut at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, the new BMW 1 Series M Coupe will appear at the Daytona International Speedway as official pace car alongside the legendary BMW M3 for the 49th Rolex 24 At Daytona, January 28th-30th. The 1 Series M Coupe’s arrival at Daytona is one of few special opportunities for fans to see BMW’s newest M model before it goes on sale in May.

“There’s no better way to greet your most enthusiastic fans than from the front of the Rolex 24 field,” said Dan Creed, Vice President of Marketing for BMW of North America. “BMW M is synonymous with motorsport. With six BMW-powered entries in this year’s field and on the 35th anniversary of our overall win, it’s perfect that the new 1 Series M Coupe was chosen as pace car. This will be the first time most fans are able to see our newest M car in action.”

The BMW 1 Series M Coupe pace car will carry an on-board SPEED television camera to give viewers a unique eye on the twice-around-the-clock action. With a 335 horsepower inline-6 engine, a 6-speed manual transmission, and the suspension and brakes from the M3 Competition Package, no modifications to the 1 Series M Coupe will be needed for pace car duty.

This year’s contest marks the 35th anniversary of BMW’s overall win at the classic endurance event. In 1976, Peter Gregg, Brian Redman and John Fitzpatrick drove a BMW CSL to victory. BMW has three class wins at the Rolex 24, a M1 driven by Hans Stuck and Alf Gebhardt took GT1 honors in 1981. The BMW Team PTG M3 scored back-to-back wins in the GT3 class at Daytona in 1997 and 1998. Bill Auberlen and Boris Said were co-drivers in those victories and will team up again this year in the BMW-powered Turner Motorsport M3 Coupe.

Rolex Sports Car Series.

Two race cars expected to be in view at the front of the 2011 field are the No. 01 and 02 BMW powered Daytona Prototypes of Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. Finishing second by less than a minute last year, both Ganassi BMWs are sure to contest for overall honors. This year, the team is boosted by a stellar driver lineup that includes BMW of North America driver Joey Hand. Hand will co-drive the No. 01 TELMEX Target BMW Riley with Graham Rahal and defending Rolex Sports Car Series DP champions Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas. Juan Pablo Montoya, Scott Dixon, Dario Franchitti and Jamie McMurray will co-drive the No. 02 car.

A total of four BMW-powered Daytona Prototypes and two BMW-powered GT class cars will compete in the Rolex 24 At Daytona.

The 49th Rolex 24 At Daytona begins at 3:30 p.m. Saturday, January 29. SPEED television will broadcast 14 hours of the race live from 3:00 p.m. to 10: p.m. ET and 9:00 a.m. to 4 p.m. ET Sunday, January 30. A special preview of the race will air at 8:00 p.m. ET Sunday, January 23.

Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge.

On Friday, January 28, more than 20 BMWs will compete in the Grand-Am 200, the opening round of the 2011 Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge. Last season, the BMW M3 won all Grand Sports (GS) class championships, capturing the win at 6 of 10 events. BMW was runner up in the Street Tuner (ST) class. This season will see the ST class feature the pro-racing debut of the BMW 1 Series with two Doran Racing 128i Coupes. The Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge Grand-Am 200 is scheduled to start at 1:30 p.m. Friday, January 28.

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