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BMW M6 GT3 to test at Mount Panorama ahead of 2017 Bathurst 12 Hour race

Factory to back BMW M6 GT3 test at Mt Panorama ahead of February's Bathurst 12-hour endurance race.

BMW Australia is ramping up its efforts ahead of next year's Bathurst 12 Hour race at Mt Panorama in February, with plans in place to test its growing fleet of customer-owned M6 GT3 racecars on the world famous racetrack in November.

The first M6 GT3 arrived in Australia early this year, but it wasn't eligible for the 2016 event.

Engineers from BMW Motorsport in Germany will join two BMW-employed engineers that are based in Queensland at the test, along with a number of as-yet unnamed European-based drivers.

The test will take place during the Challenge Bathurst event in late November, a two-day club-level meeting that comprises of multiple 20-minute sprint sessions.

The late spring timing of the Challenge Bathurst is perfect for testing for the late summer event in February, which runs from 6am to 6pm.

There are currently two of the high-tech M6-based racecars competing in the Australian GT Championship, with BMW Australia managing director Marc Werner confirming to that two more have been ordered and are on their way from BMW Motorsport in Munich.

2012 German Touring Car champion and BMW factory ace Bruno Spengler was recently parachuted into a co-driver's slot at BMW Motorsport's request. He joined regular series driver Morgan Haber in an M6 GT3 run by Queensland team MARC GT last month at Phillip Island.

Haber confirmed to that Spengler was a late addition to the squad, displacing regular driver Jake Camilleri in the process. "It was great to have someone like Bruno in the car, though," he said, "and we learnt a lot."

It's certainly a category that is still growing.

Former Supercars racer Steven Richards runs the other M6 GT3 from Melbourne, with backing from the Australian BMW subsidiary.

It's not yet known where the new cars will end up, but all four are expected to make their Bathurst race debut at the 12-hour event in February.

"The GT3 program is a big passion of mine," said Mr Werner, "and we are very much looking forward to next year."

He points to the Audi customer racing program, which currently fields upwards of a dozen R8 GT3 cars in the Australian series, as a direction of where BMW could end up.

"Audi has had a program established for seven or eight years now," he observed, "but it's certainly a category that is still growing."

He also revealed that the company held talks with the powerhouse Penske Racing outfit two years ago about fielding an entry in the Supercar series, joining Volvo, Nissan, Ford and Holden, but the costs of such a move were deemed too high. 

Team owner Roger Penske is the owner of a chain of BMW dealerships on the west coast of the US.

Mr Werner also revealed that he would be keen to see a one-make M2 series in Australia, similar to a series that runs in Germany with factory-prepared M235i racecars. 

"It is something we are looking at," he confirmed.

Will you head to The Mountain in February to watch the Bathurst 12 Hour? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

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