Story by: RaceMasteR J | Photos: Chevan Davids & RaceMasteR J | Location: Killarney Race Track, Cape Town

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I’ve driven many a 3 series BMW before, from the much sought after collector’s item 325is, M3’s be it e36, e92 and even the new F30 (non M3) model. But there’s one particular M3 that has eluded me, until now.

The e46 M3. Sure I have sat shotgun in many, but not actually been behind the wheel, and with the CSL model being one of my all time favourite M3’s, the time had to come sooner or later.

Opportunity presented itself to me when I had the chance to drive not only an e46 model M3, but this beast of a machine, the fully prepared track spec M3 of Junaid Slamang. There’s no other place to drive this brute but Killarney. I fear our normal public roads would not be able to handle its rubber claws and only crumble upon hard acceleration. Besides, it’s a full track car so we’re not allowed to drive it on public roads anyway.

The track was booked out solely for testing purposes. We arrived at a barren and lifeless race track we’re so used to seeing buzzing with energetic race car life. But in this case, it was much welcomed as private track time is hard to come by and soon enough everyone quickened their pace to prepare the car for testing.

The car sleeps alone in Junaids pit garage and I don’t see it any other way. A beast like this would not take kindly to sharing its lair.

A few checks are made from fuel, tyre pressure, oil levels and then… the beast is awakened into life in a roar of 6 straight BMW cylinders. Test driver Masood from R&M Coachworks, who also maintains the car along with his brother Riaz, pulls the car out for a warm up session before Junaid jumps in for some aggressive laps in the pursuit of shaving time of previous personal bests.

While Masood is out on track warming the car up, I chat with Junaid and Riaz about the car as I’m curious to know what’s going on under that carbon bonnet.

They tell me it has… wait for it, this is a mouthful… ARP head and main stud kits, ATI Super Damper (harmonic balancer), a lightweight aluminum flywheel matted to an AP racing 140mm 3-plate race clutch… Shrick cams – 288/280 degree high lift (14mm), Shrick DLC coated CAM followers, VAC Motorsport high performance valve springs and titanium retainers as well as hardened valve locks, an Evosport VANOS delete kit because of the Shrick cams and up rated injectors and coils. Van der Linde Developments in Joburg prepared and flowed the cylinder head and ceramic coated the exhaust manifold which ends up in a Powerflow exhaust.

It also has a custom made and developed carbon air intake system.

After Masood re-entered the pits it was now Junaids turn to give it a go. Lap after lap he waged war with his beast against the clock. Riaz actually had to call him in to let the car have a break, not that it needed it, but rather safe than sorry.

After he stops and gets out we all check the time on the MOTEC CDL3 dash display unit. It says 1:22.4. Brilliant! That’s almost a second quicker than before! Everyone was delighted. A testing day well worth it as targets were met.

With everyone happy and a job well done by all, it was now my turn to have a go. Don’t get me wrong, it was never my intention to try and beat any times, but rather to get a feel for this beast. I was more honored to be able to get to drive such a machine.

Knowing now what exactly lay under its bonnet, I was very curious to feel how it all comes together. But before I got in, I just took a moment to have a closer look at the car to sort of take it all in. I wanted to absorb all the “thoroughbred-ness” that this race car was. From the front there was no denying that the Vorsteiner front bumper suited this car perfectly.

Ending off the rear, which most competitors would be seeing often was an M3 CSL bootlid, a massive carbon rear wing with custom brackets and rear diffuser. All that was joined together by the CSL carbon fibre roof. So there were some similarities between this car and my all time favourite M3 after all.

The white Enkei light weight racing wheels wrapped in Kumho 280/60/18 suit the Leguna Seca Blue colour scheme just brilliantly. Peering behind the wheels you notice massive AP Racing calipers and discs.

Getting into the driver’s Sabelt carbon racing seat you are engulfed by the custom built roll cage. The first thing you notice when you’re sitting inside is the MOTEC digital dash display unit. Just like the ones in NFS SHIFT! How cool is that! I placed my hands on the sued Sabelt deep dish steering wheel instantly making me feel like a racing driver. I check to see if all the switches are where they should be… ignition… turn the key. The car swings for a while but eventually roars into life once more.

Put it into first gear... wait a minute, this is a fully sequential 6-speed Quaife box! Awesome! The clutch pedal is still needed to pull away and to downshift, but no clutch pedal is needed for shifting up. Masood tells me to rev it up and release the clutch… The accelerator pedal is hard! Very hard! I have to press my foot down solidly before the digital rev counter even moves. Nonetheless I give it some foot and hear that straight six BMW engine rev. Glorious!

I stalled it! I feel like such a noob! Try again! Rev a bit more this time and off we go! The first thing you notice once driving it is that it’s extremely loud inside the car. The whining noise of mechanical gears and diff noise is insane! I change gear… BANG! Yes, that’s the noise it makes. I feel the cogs turning over and the diff working, change to third, BANG! The sounds, the noises, the smell, the feel… this really is like sitting in race car heaven.

Coming out of turn 4 and heading down Killarney’s back straight I put my foot down firmly and the car surges forward while pushing me back into its seat. The rev range seems endless as it builds up to peak torque of 355nm’s at 6500rpm and then peak power of 277kw’s at 7800rpm until the MOTEC shift light flashes and the next gear is selected… BANG! All of that done all over again until you reach the next corner. I reach the 100m brake marker board and stand on the brakes.

Stopping power is incredible! I thought the car accelerated quickly but it seems it stops just as fast!

Turn the wheel and point the car towards the apex.

The full slick 280 section Kumho tyres claw into the tar and the car turns on a dime! No understeer what so ever!

Mid corner the car is extremely well balanced and weighted thanks to the full-track race BC suspension and Turner Motorsport adjustable control arms, making it very forgiving if any mistakes are made. The amount of grip feels relentless! You can literally change where the apex should be. Acceleration can be initiated so much sooner now and there’s no worry of oversteer either. It has so much grip its mindboggling! Mindboggling maybe because of the amount of lateral G-force it gives.

Junaid, achieved a max lateral G figure of 1.6G in the corner. I can tell you that because of the onboard VBox data system.

Masood took me for a proper spin later on and he made turn 4 look like a joke. For those that don’t know, Killarney’s turn 4 is a double apex. Which means there’s 2 turns in one corner, but the right way to do it is make those 2 turns into one. So usually you would approach the corner, brake, turn in, clip the first apex, balance and set the car up on half throttle and point it towards the second apex. Once the second apex is clipped then floor it out. Masood however clips the first apex and then immediately floors it out! That’s how much grip and balance it has!

This car, as intimidating as it initially is, inspires confidence in leaps and bounds. I suppose it comes down to having so much grip you don’t have to be worried about the tail stepping out of line. It’s almost like an all wheel drive. Junaid intends to race the car in the Midas Clubmans Series, but not just yet. He wants to get to know the car 110% first. So hopefully it won’t be too long before we get to see it wage battle once more against other competitors!

Thanks to Riaz and Masood from R&M Coachworks as well as the owner, Junaid Slamang, for letting me have a go in his beast.

See how it goes, listen to the sounds, watch how it corners, sit shotgun by watching the video below to get an idea of what's it like to drive this machine... enjoy!

Oh and dont forget to view the entire gallery further down too... till next time.

RaceMasteR J

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