Race cars are, by very definition, built solely for performance. Race cars are creations with no compromise, no creature comforts. Their unwavering focus is on shaving every thousandth of a second.
Most people are used to seeing race cars hurtling around a track, a sliver of colour that flashes by.
Rarely, however, do you get to see them up close and personal. And, in my opinion at least, race cars are best appreciated when they’re standing still. While race cars like the Team Need for Speed BMW Z4 GT3 are built solely for function, that’s not to say there’s no form, no art, to their design.
While road cars are built for compromise, race-going variants are lightened with carbon, beefed up with wider track, and sculpted for improved aerodynamics. Although race cars are not designed with aesthetics in mind, I’m sure you’ll agree that the end result is often more beautiful than the original.
Ohlins four-way adjustable dampers are at the heart of the Z4 GT3’s suspension. The hollow sway bars have bladed ends, allowing for adjustments. Hopefully we can show you an undercarriage shot in the near future, as there’s plenty of interesting components beneath the car, such as individual coolers for the transmission and differential.
Notice how the wing is mounted, which transfers the downforce load directly to the chassis rather than to the trunk lid.
And the rear wing plays a very important role in the TNFS Z4 GT3. Driver Edward Sandstrom told us that one of the car’s traits is its lively rear, which he constantly has to watch to stop it snapping away.
From the side of the track many people think the Team Need for Speed Z4 has been painted black and white, but as you can see the black is actually exposed dry carbon. Personally I love the livery that Need for Speed’s Andy Blackmore created as it compliments the sharp, precise lines of the Z4 GT3.
The perfect marriage between form and function. The channeled diffuser extends nearly a 1/3 of the car’s length…
…Along with a splitter at the front. Together, they create a low pressure zone beneath the car, which produces downforce.
There are hundreds of little details on the Z4 GT3 that are worthy of mention. The purpose-built carbon ventilation duct is a great example.
If you look at the base of the Recaro Pro Racer SP-A you can see removable padding, which is necessary as there’s more than one driver. The padding is used to make the seat comfortable for the different drivers’ height and preferences, and can be quickly fitted/removed during pit-stop driver changes.
If you ever get a job in GT3, this is what your office will look like. The BMW features a full roll-cage and ‘fire bomb’ extinguisher. The silver hose directs fuel to the tank (mounted beneath the car).
Believe it or not, air conditioning is an optional extra on the Z4 GT3! The dash holds the switches that are used less often, such as the extinguisher (the big red button), ignition and headlights.
The more frequently used controls are mounted in front of the driver, so there’s no need to move his/her hands away from the wheel. There are three rotary dials allowing incremental adjustments to the DSC, ASC and KDS settings.
The Z4 GT3 is fitted with a 6-speed seqential transmission, with the ECU controlling its quick shift function, the pit-lane speed limiter and traction control.
Left: The Z4 GT3 is fitted with a dry sump 4.4l V8. The naturally aspirated V8 produces 500hp @ 8,200rpm (300rpm before rev-limit) and 500Nm of torque at 5,500rpm.
Right: The roll-cage’s purpose is to not only protect the driver but to also improve the chassis rigidity. Here you can see the cage extends – and triangulates – to the front strut towers.
The heated windscreen and windows are all fabricated out of Makrolon, a brand of polycarbonate that is lightweight and scratch resistant.
With so much carbon used throughout the Z4 GT3, it’s hardly surprising that it weighs in at just 1180kg (2600lbs).
Split personality? The Team Need for Speed #76 entry is driven by Edward Sandstrom and EA’s own Patrick Soderlund. The sister car, #77, was piloted by Claudia Hurtgen and Walter Csaba.
The 2010 season contained incredible highs and lows for Team Need for Speed. The team’s Z4s finished the season strongly however, securing 3rd place in the championship. Although that’s a fantastic result for the newly formed team, there’s no time to rest on our laurels. Both Z4s are currently in containers and on their way to Dubai for the 24h endurance race, where we’ll be debuting their new wire-frame liveries. Hopefully we can kick off the 2011 season with a great result!
– Charles Kha
Photos by Linhbergh Nguyen and Rod Chong