Markus Flasch, CEO of BMW M, is not only a passionate car enthusiast. He’s a racing driver and a fan of going sideways. When it comes to the collaboration with the Red Bull Drift Brothers project, he is one of the driving forces behind it, making BMW M one of the first European car manufacturers to back a professional drift team.
BMW M CEO MARKUS FLASCH: “WE OVER-ENGINEERED THE ENGINE OF THE M4 TO TURN IT INTO A RACE ENGINE”
Markus, with this project, BMW M becomes the first European OEM to support drifting. What made you gravitate towards this sport?
BMW and drifting go hand in hand, and we have a strong heritage in the sport. It’s no coincidence that a lot of drift cars are BMWs and E30s specifically. BMW M cars are performance cars and stand for rear-wheel drive. So, it only makes sense to look in this direction. Especially when you look at Johannes and Elias, they are the perfect duo and have an attitude that is a perfect match with our brand and how we work. When the opportunity arose to support them in this project I didn’t have to think long to agree. Now we are here, and when I look at the car, I’m really amazed at what they pulled off in such a short amount of time.
Under the bonnet of this M4 hides a 1000bhp version of the S58 engine, doubling the power of the road car. What does that mean to you?
This corresponds to one of the messages we wanted to transmit with this project. That the engine is capable of doing this. When we developed the S58 we immediately had the GT3 engine, the P58, in the back of our minds. That engine has 590bhp and 700nm and will easily finish a 24-hour race while still using the stock block, rods, pistons, crankshaft etc. It’s a fact that we over-engineered our S58 engine to save money and time on the development of our racing engine. To be honest this new engine is a racing engine in its backbone.
You already had a go in the car yourself. What was it like to drive?
It was a lot more difficult to drive than I expected it to be. You really have to work within a very specific power and torque band to make it drift the way you want. On top of that I needed to learn and fight my instincts as a racing driver and not correct too much when the car really starts to go sideways.
As a company, BMW M is also one of the few performance car companies to embrace drifting in their communication. Why is that?
As a company, we need to fulfil the needs of our customers and our fans and they really like going sideways. Our cars have a lot of traction built in, but they are also set-up to be very manageable to drift. To support this, we have developed a very clever traction control system and our track analyser application to support our customers to improve their skills.