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.