Early in 2010, BMW launched a 'GT3' version of the recently introduced 'E89' generation of the Z4. BMW was the latest in an ever growing number of manufacturers to tap into the popular and lucrative GT3 market. The class was quickly expanding with the cars eligible for numerous championships. Facing the likes of Porsche, Audi, Ferrari, Aston Martin and Lamborghini, BMW had their work cut out to make the Z4 GT3 a winner.
Unlike the original Z4, the second generation model did not come as a coupe but instead featured a foldable steel roof. Along with many other panels, this was replaced with a lightweight carbon fibre copy, which obviously could not be opened. Further revisions to the body were aimed to improve the aerodynamics and included a full width front splitter and a rear diffuser. The most obvious change was the full width rear wing, which featured an additional wing fitted between the mounts.
The single biggest change, however, was found under the long carbon fibre bonnet. Here a V8 was fitted instead of one of the six cylinder engines used in the Z4 production cars. The four litre unit was derived from the V8 that powered the M3 GT2 racer. In GT3 trim, it was good for around 480 bhp. This power was transferred to the rear wheels through a six-speed sequential gearbox. As per the GT3 regulations, the new Z4 was also equipped with driver aids like traction control and anti-lock brakes.
The new BMW made its competition debut in the May 2010 FIA GT3 season opener at Silverstone in the hands of the works supported Schubert squad. Within a few races, the Z4 GT3 was on the pace and during its first season scored victories at Jarama and Zolder. As more teams took delivery of the V8-engined machine, it also appeared in other series later in the year like the ADAC GT Masters.
In order to maintain the momentum and using the lessons learned in the first few months of the Z4's racing career, a considerable amount of modifications were carried through over the next winter. Among them was the increase in displacement of the V8 to just under 4.4 litre, resulting in a performance hike to 515 hp. Other changes included the addition of paddles behind the steering wheel to operate the six-speed gearbox. The aerodynamics were also revised and the rear wing mounts were placed further forward.
The 2011 season got off to a great start with an outright victory in the Dubai 24 Hours. The success continued as the the Z4 again scored several wins in the FIA GT3 Championship and Blancpain Endurance Series. One of the most impressive performances was a second in the Spa 24 Hours from starting back in 49th. Although changes were carried through for 2012, they were less obvious. Among them was a revised exhaust system and a switch from an aluminium to a carbon fibre rear wing.
Due to regulation changes, the Z4 GT3 was eligible for the FIA World Championship in 2012. The cars were raced by former champions Team Vita4one, and in the nine round championship two wins were scored. The V8-engined BMW also remained successful in the various other series, scoring outright wins all over Europe.