Stop dreaming about sports cars. To experience the thrill of driving on the track, you absolutely have to switch to real racing cars. At the wheel of the BMW M2 CS Racing, even the proximity to the fastest machines in the world will no longer scare you. Well, yes, just at the beginning …
Of course you can drive on the track with your sports car. But those who are used to track days know it: the efficiency of this sports car remains limited by the laws relating to its road approval. Take the BMW M2 CS, for example, this ultimate take on the recently launched German sports compact by the propeller brand (and tested by Turbo). With its turbo inline six-cylinder engine pushed to 450 horsepower, its chassis with optimized settings and its semi-slick tires, it will never hesitate to take to the track. But after a few full laps on a circuit like the great Paul Ricard, some important parameters will start to cause problems.
Here is the road base of the BMW M2 CS Racing: the “short” M2 CS, 450 horsepower
Good to know: anticipate the purchase and resale.
It is possible to know the resale or trade-in value of your vehicle thanks to the auto Turbo rating of your BMW M2, the alternative to the Argus rating.
First limiting factor, braking: with pads, discs and a brake fluid circuit compatible with road use, you will quickly feel variations in the left pedal which will inevitably end up stretching during heavy decelerations. Then comes the tire problem. Even with finely tuned pressure when rolling on the track, open road tires will eventually overheat. A few dozen turns are generally enough to cut into the capital of these tires, certainly effective, whose construction meets specifications that go well beyond simple driving on the circuit. It will also not be possible to adjust the chassis and suspension settings to the maximum, since these cars most often have running gears with modifications acting exclusively on the electronics. So, yes, it will remain largely possible to have fun on the circuit with your sports car for a few laps. But for those who seriously want to start the chrono hunt, it will be necessary to change the universe.
The hyphen of BMW M
The BMW M2 CS Racing arrives precisely where the “regular” M2 CS stops: when the road-going BMW, smoldering brakes and filed tires, rolls out of the circuit’s pit lane to rest in the parking lot. Racing, it has everything it takes to chain the laps without ever weakening. Its M2 CS body hides racing brakes, using large 380mm discs clamped by special calipers. These brakes are surrounded by slick tires, prohibited from the road and devoid of the slightest groove. Inside, all the luxury and comfort equipment of the M2 CS on the road disappear. The two FIA standard bucket seats and the cockpit, worthy of an authentic racing GT, set the tone: this M2 will never look good outside a circuit. In any case, it does not have the right to leave it, because it is free from all the constraints linked to road approval. It still weighs over 1,400 kg and its 3.0-liter in-line six-cylinder engine only develops 365 horsepower, just to enter the new TC racing category, which will make its big launch on French circuits in 2020. But a Once behind the small steering wheel studded with buttons, hardly less sophisticated than that of a Formula 1, this deliciously exotic environment – common to all real racing cars – immerses you in a world radically different from that of sports “cities” .
The body of the M2 CS Racing is almost identical to that of the M2 CS road
High voltage taxiing
The usual installation procedure (full suit, harness compressing the genitals, helmet and HANS system on the shoulders) always has its small effect in this kind of machine. But today, it is more the neighbors of the track who are putting a lot of pressure. Welcome area, the official responsible for racing BMWs in France, takes us to a Racetrack Day. We will share the track with machines like the Ferrari 333 SP, the Ford GT1 or entire battalions of Ferraris and other Porsches from the queen categories of world endurance. It will therefore be necessary to constantly monitor the mirrors while watching for these cars with performance beyond measure with those of our mount. A bit like the 24 Hours of Le Mans where several race categories come together during the event. Add to that a still wet, very slippery track, and you have a slightly stressful cocktail when you start the turbo six (via a simple button on the dashboard).
BMW M2 CS, the most powerful compact on the market – TURBO test of 06/12/2020
Impressive, this cockpit, right?
Fortunately, the M2 CS Racing has enough to lower the tension of the bad automotive journalist: here, no real sequential gearbox where you have to operate a race clutch to pass the first while avoiding stalling like a draw. Equipped with an adapted double clutch gearbox, it maneuvers in the pit-lane like a nice family car. You just have to be content with a central mirror completely blocked by the fixed rear spoiler, but peripheral vision remains good thanks to the other two mirrors. At the end of the pit straight, we arrive at the large Paul Ricard circuit on rain tires. A gigantic spray of water, lifted by a prototype, tumbles to the left at the very moment when it is necessary to begin to take its marks. Drowned in the middle of the prototypes and the fastest racing GTs on the planet driven by seasoned gentlemen drivers, you feel a bit like a sardine in the middle of a school of sharks. Like the track, the suit gets wet quite quickly.
Here is the M2 CS Racing attacking the famous Signes curve
But in these very delicate conditions, the M2 CS Racing kindly invites you to get down to work. In a straight line, accelerations are not particularly impressive but the sound seems less artificial than on a road car. Unlike most racing GTs and single-seaters, braking -assisted- does not require force on the left pedal at the end of the right line. But the power of this braking has nothing to do with that of a classic road and, above all, it does not weaken over the laps. The steering also surprises by its relative lightness when you have already tasted a 911 GT3 Cup or an RS3 LMS. On the other hand, its speed and precision belong to the world of racing. We also adapt to the remarkable level of grip and traction during re-acceleration, even on a track still saturated with water. After a few laps of playing mobile chicanes in the middle of international racing cars, this BMW with ABS and three-position anti-skating is no longer scary in the wet.
One M2 CS Racing can hide another
A few hours later, we’re back behind the wheel. This time, not a single drop of water on the Ricard. On slick tires, we will finally be able to identify the full potential of the M2 CS Racing. It’s difficult, all the same, to let go completely when you have to constantly deal with hordes of GT3 around you, especially with a limited driving time. But now, the fear of the first laps gives way to an irrepressible desire to stay for hours at the wheel of the BMW. I would like to start improving my lap times after all these sabotaged laps letting other cars go to the worst places on the circuit. With much more flexible damping than that of classic GT racing, the M2 CS Racing is like a sports car free from all the faults of road cars: its generous body movements allow it to be placed in a could not be more intuitive. The too muscular corner entries, just like the generous re-acceleration, generate an oversteer that is very easy to grasp. The dual-clutch gearbox, identical to that of the M4 GT4, is barely slower than a real competition pneumatic gearbox (and much more responsive than TCR’s DSG transmissions like the Audi RS3 LMS). We enjoy braking late and very hard, even with the assisted pedal and the ABS which is sometimes triggered. And we greedily climb the vibrators of Paul Ricard. In short, all the ingredients are there to finally progress in your skills to drive a car on the circuit. And start to seriously touch the settings (camber, suspensions etc.) so as to adapt the car for each circuit …
First prize for the race
Because the M2 CS Racing is specifically aimed at pilots halfway between track-day sports enthusiasts and true racing specialists: it costs € 95,000 excluding taxes, i.e. the price of a traction TCR and € 70,000. less than a BMW M4 GT4 which is also much more expensive to drive. It is the absolute entry for those who want to get into racing GTs while limiting the budget as much as possible: its engine lasts 30,000 km and is satisfied with simplified maintenance. Its dual-clutch gearbox doesn’t require the attention of a pneumatic sequential gearbox. Virtually, it is even possible for the most resourceful to drive it without the slightest mechanic! Eligible for the new TC racing category, it will also be able to race in VLN on the Nordschleife or in a large number of endurance events. Note that, for those who want more power, it will be possible to upgrade the engine to 450 horsepower. But it will then be necessary to add a kit with larger brakes and a more generous cooling circuit. Enough to make a real little M4 GT4 …