Kumho BMW Championship: 2017 Season Preview Part II

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I suppose I brought it on myself… heralding the return of the finer weather in the last preview piece, I joined Paul at a grey, freezing, drizzly and snowy Brands Hatch to see his new M3 race car be put through its paces. Thankfully the sensation has returned to my fingers relatively quickly and the frostbite did not bite too hard.

Jokes aside, the weather meant that it was not going to be a fast test session as the track was extremely greasy and over the course of the day there were some spectacular offs from some of the other cars there.

When I saw the car at Specialist Cars a week ago, I commented that Paul had a lot of things left to do in prepping the car. Well he’s a fast worker as the diff got rebuilt, the suspension got set up, and the brakes were finished. But unfortunately old father time meant that not everything on the snagging list got dealt with.

When the team started the car it became rather apparent that all was not well and the alternator had gone kaput. One of the team made a mercy dash to the closest motor factors and a new one was quickly acquired. (I was assured that all the E46 M3’s in the car park would be returning home, and no parts were ‘sourced’ from unwilling donor cars.)Unfortunately by the time that the problem had been diagnosed and rectified, the car missed the best conditions on the track. As soon as Paul came onto the circuit the drizzle began and it didn’t relent for the rest of the day.

Problems like these are a blessing and a curse. You’re at the track to find issues and put laps on the car. So when you’re stuck in the pits replacing an alternator it is frustrating not to be clocking up the laps. But you would far rather it happen at a test session, than at a race weekend.

Due to the weather there was no chance of running the car on slick tyres, so the priority was to just keep the car running and to find any other extra faults. Paul managed a healthy 44 laps without incident and his times were around 70 seconds. The car ran well and sounded great. The Vortex exhaust certainly gives the S54 a distinctive wail, and you can definitely hear it coming. The conditions really weren’t going to give PB lap times. Bear in mind that in the old 328i, Paul managed a 55 second lap of Brands Hatch. That shows just how tricky the conditions were. That said, they did allow for a little bit of showboating coming out of Druids Corner.

So, what can we expect before the season opening round at Brands Hatch on the 25th and 26th March? There will be a few other hush hush mechanical adjustments, more fine tuning and biggest of all there will be a livery change. The silver and red looks good and a small nod to the Team Vodafone V8 Supercar, but it looks a little battle scarred and tired. The final details of the new scheme are a guarded secret but it should look rather different to anything we’ve seen Paul racing in before. As mentioned in the first part of this preview, Paul is currently looking for new sponsors so if you or your business would like to be involved please contact us and we’ll pass your details on.

AnyM will be doing our best to bring you as many updates on the upcoming 2017 Kumho BMW Championship. We will take this opportunity to wish Paul the very best for the season, bring on the end of March when the green flag drops.

AuthorGraeme Franklin
PhotographyGraeme Franklin

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