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      04-10-2014, 03:31 PM   #1
Pete_vB
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1M vs GT3 RS 4.0 Review

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Asymmetric warfare: A couple months back I had the privilege of testing three incredible machines: a 997 GT3 RS 3.8, an RS 4.0, and an RS 3.8 with the engine bored and stroked to 4.1 liters. My 1M came along for the ride as the camera car for a few days of amazing driving. While it’s unquestionably unfair to compare BMW’s cheapest M car to an RS 4.0, a car now 4x it’s price and in my opinion one of the finest things ever to come out of Weisach, I’m going to do it anyway. Because, well, I can, and because I thought you guys might enjoy a little write-up.



Of the three RSs, it was the 4.0 that impressed the most. The engine didn’t have the punch of the 4.1, especially in the torque department, but the way everything worked together, particularly the suspension, was sublime. It’s one of those cars that’s greater than the sum of its parts, and given the parts involved that’s saying something.

Coming from the 1M everything in a GT3 RS feels weighty on first impression. The steering is heavier, the clutch feels nearly double the weight, and even the gearshift has more heft, as if the whole cars is simply more serious. It leaves me slightly conflicted- the steering feels great and the clutch doesn’t bother, but the shift leaves room for improvement. It’s remarkably shorter throw, but where a 1M gate feels like Nylon, the RS feels like metal that hasn’t quite been de-burred. The sharp edges feel just notchy enough to slow progress- I admit, surprisingly, to slightly preferring the 1M’s. The seating position in the 4.0 is clearly better, though- low and just right, vs the “on” rather than “in” the car of the taller BMW.

Once rolling the 4.0 surprises by not feeling hugely fast. It is of course, but it disguises its speed, simply because it puts it down so well. You’d expect the rear end to squirm trying to channel 500 hp, but it only hints at any strain. It uses the same massive tires and rear weight bias that let a GT2RS put down well over 100 extra horsepower, so at first the 4.0 feels surprisingly over-tired. The 1M, of course, is the exact opposite: it borrows its rear end and tires from a car that puts around 100 ft lbs less to the wheels, and it clearly demonstrates this by squirming and shimmying down the road when the boost hits. They are two very different ways to go similarly fast at lower speeds, the slower car feeling surprisingly quicker than the faster. But just a moment later the 1M begins to run out of breath just where the 4.0 is hitting its stride, and the gap widens towards redline as the GT3 feels nearly quick as it really is.

It’s nearing this redline that the 4.0 starts to gel. Initially it’s almost a cold fish, so locked down that you don’t get the feedback you’re looking for to judge grip and speed. Push the envelope, however, and you learn the RS 4.0’s true personality comes out: a faithful German Shepard that really wants to play. The harder you push, the better it gets, damping, body control, feedback, brakes, engine... It’s biggest fault is that the limits are simply so high for the street- playing like this can get you in big, big trouble. But it may well be worth it- the sound, rowing through the gears, the massive traction out of the corners.

The 1M, on the other hand, is again hugely different in character. At reasonable speeds it’s even more playful- boot the throttle with TC off and you’ll get easy sideways slip angles in first gear that you’d never see in the 4.0, which would simply take off. If you’re comfortable with an arm full of lock you can find all kinds of excuses to have stupid fun well below the speed limit. But as the pace increases this advantage becomes a deficit, and chasing an RS exposes this clearly. If 4.0 is a German Shepard then the 1M is Labrador puppy, even more playful but a little clumsy once it gets really stuck in. On real world roads the 1M losses poise over bumps, leaning, sliding and flailing out of bends while the locked down RS puts lengths on it. In slippery conditions in the 1M you’ll either have an arm full of lock or the TC light nearly constantly lit, while the ridiculous traction and poise of the RS lets it walk away. The 1M shouldn’t be able to stick with a 4.0, so no surprise that it can’t, but in the wet driving the wheels off it trying becomes less than fun. The stock 1M’s comfort zone is really low to medium speeds and drier pavement- leave this and it becomes less efficient, while the RS 4.0’s comfort zone is much, much wider.

That said the 1M may well be the better everyday tool, precisely because of its affinity for lower speed fun. The 4.0 is nice to drive slowly, make no mistake, but after you experience it driven quickly it’d be awfully difficult to both put a lot of miles on and hold onto your license. The 1M, on the other hand, can feel fast while going slow, both an advantage and disadvantage.

It’s hard to imagine two cars more similar and yet more different. Both are low volume 2011 collector cars, some of the sportiest models available from the sportiest German manufactures. Both are rear wheel drive driver’s cars, have spectacular brakes, engines, and manual transmissions, and both are worth more now than new. However one is precise and efficient, turning every ounce of thrust into forward motion, while the other is a hooligan that earned its reputation largely by doing the opposite. The solution is obvious- get one of each, and I undoubtedly would, using the 1M daily and then taking the 4.0 out for the occasional more serious blast. Unfortunately with 4.0s now trading above 300k this is a luxury likely to remain out of reach for nearly all of us. One day, however, if my ship comes in, I’ll certainly be able to make a little extra room in the garage. Until then I’ll be contented driving my 1M, sideways and as much as possible.

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      04-10-2014, 03:43 PM   #2
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Great review!

I played, for a short while, with a RS 4.0 at Mid-Ohio (driven my Mike Valentine of V1 fame).

I had to work like a demon to hang with him and eventually abandoned the effort. But it sure was fun!

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      04-10-2014, 03:56 PM   #3
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Great review!

I played, for a short while, with a RS 4.0 at Mid-Ohio (driven my Mike Valentine of V1 fame).

I had to work like a demon to hang with him and eventually abandoned the effort. But it sure was fun!

Neil
you have plenty of boost mods over a stock 1M!... Yes.. Mike knows the track.. is a decently good driver...

At COTA.. if a driver is able tostay relatively close (not an easy feat, especially in the essses ) but once you hit a medium sized straight or particularly the back straight... the 911s walk away.... Exactly as Pete mentioned... the 1M runs out of breath a bit (still easily reaching 150mph) where as the RS is probably touching 165 mph at the end of the straight.
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      04-10-2014, 07:07 PM   #4
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Wonderfully written. Thanks Pete for taking the time. Although I suspect you don't us to thank you. trouncing about in those cars I'm sure is thanks enough!

In the end the 1M has more accessible limits on real world driving. The Pcars are simply amazing - but to explore the limits you really need to be in a safe environment. Of course,.. I still lust after one too!

And of course, it's important to me to share my car-joy with my two boys. That's not really possible in any GT3.
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      04-10-2014, 07:30 PM   #5
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I abandon my 997.2 RS for the the exact reasons you stated. Personally, it was far too fast and competent to truly enjoy on canyons; the fun zone of that thing was firmly staked in license/life losing territory when used in my preferred habitat. My 1M has just the right amount of flaws (.... I can't think of another word) to be fun on the street
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      04-10-2014, 09:05 PM   #6
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Great write up Pete!

Have you ever driven a 997 gt2? It reminded me a bit more of the character of the 1m. Much higher levels of everything but you could get the back end to step out with a good stomp on the go pedal. I am shocked by how much of a depreciation hit the gt2s took. 200k cars selling for $120 with just a few thousand miles on them. Why do you think the RS has appreciated so much while the Gt2 hasn't? It was pretty dam limited too
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      04-10-2014, 09:29 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by M3 Adjuster
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Originally Posted by MDORPHN View Post
Great review!

I played, for a short while, with a RS 4.0 at Mid-Ohio (driven my Mike Valentine of V1 fame).

I had to work like a demon to hang with him and eventually abandoned the effort. But it sure was fun!

Neil
you have plenty of boost mods over a stock 1M!... Yes.. Mike knows the track.. is a decently good driver...

At COTA.. if a driver is able tostay relatively close (not an easy feat, especially in the essses ) but once you hit a medium sized straight or particularly the back straight... the 911s walk away.... Exactly as Pete mentioned... the 1M runs out of breath a bit (still easily reaching 150mph) where as the RS is probably touching 165 mph at the end of the straight.
150 on the long straight at COTA? Huh, the best I could muster, per Harry's, was 139.
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      04-10-2014, 09:52 PM   #8
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Thanks Pete for this perspective
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      04-10-2014, 10:22 PM   #9
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150 on the long straight at COTA? Huh, the best I could muster, per Harry's, was 139.
Less slowness. I was letting off gas when the speedo showed 150.
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      04-10-2014, 10:32 PM   #10
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150 on the long straight at COTA? Huh, the best I could muster, per Harry's, was 139.
Less slowness. I was letting off gas when the speedo showed 150.
My rear tires are a smaller circumference and my speedo is not accurate. I don't even bother to look at it on straights. It must be the drag from my go pro.
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      04-11-2014, 09:32 AM   #11
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Great write up Pete!

Have you ever driven a 997 gt2? It reminded me a bit more of the character of the 1m. Much higher levels of everything but you could get the back end to step out with a good stomp on the go pedal. I am shocked by how much of a depreciation hit the gt2s took. 200k cars selling for $120 with just a few thousand miles on them. Why do you think the RS has appreciated so much while the Gt2 hasn't? It was pretty dam limited too
I've never driven a 997 GT2, but I have competed in a modified 996 GT2 tuned to similar power. It's certainly less over-tired than the GT3, and likes to hold a slip angle. However I find those antics much less accessible in a GT2 compared to a 1M- there is more turbo lag so it's harder to judge, the limits are higher, and once the back end does break loose there is a lot of momentum behind it. All of this conspires to make me really respect the GT2's back end, even though when it does come out it's been very progressive and controllable (only on good on good tires- on bad ones it's an ax murderer I'm sure). Meanwhile when the 1M plays similar games the stakes are so much lower, and it's much easier to win.

As for the GT2's value, I have a few theories.

First, the GT2's value is pulled down by the 996/ 997 Turbos. Turbos are heavy, complex GT cars, as opposed to sports cars, and hence are not prized as drivers tools and depreciate accordingly. But speaking of a deal, you can pick up a used, chipped 996 turbo for $ 40k that will walk all over most modern sports cars. You can then pull stuff out of it by doing a 2wd conversion, etc, and essentially have a budget GT2, so it's tough for the GT2 to justify a hugely higher price.

Second, the 996 GT2s had a deserved reputation for trying to kill their drivers. The factory will admit there was something not quite right with the rear end, and while this can be cured with setup a justified stigma arose that the car was an angry doberman that could turn on you. The 997 was hugely improved, but so few were built and used as designed that I think the reputation remains.

Finally I'm not sure about the use case for the GT2, given how fast the GT3 is. Back road I'd personally take the GT3- it sounds better and the throttle response makes it that bit more engaging. It's also more precise and hence more fun, the extra speed of the GT2 just insuring you'd arrive at the next corner too quickly. Ditto at the autocross. Freeway or anywhere straight I'd take the GT2, but I do like my license and I'm getting a bit mature for that. Track day it's a tossup, but I think most would take the GT3 for precision- sure it's slower, but that probably just means your stuck behind traffic less.

All of this conspires to make the GT3 the car I'd take more of the time, and I think prices reflect that. But I agree the GT2 is under rated and a bit of a deal. It's just a shame that so few drivers have the talent to truly use them- Mark Webber has a GT2 RS, I'm sure that's a fun ride to work.
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      04-11-2014, 09:52 AM   #12
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Good write up. I am lucky enough to have the 1m, 4.0 and 3.8 rs, and 996 gt3. They are all incredible and must have's for BMW M/Porsche collectors as truly great drivers cars. The 996 gt3 is the most fun to me because its limits are lower so more usable than the 997 RS' on the street. With no drivers aids except ABS, the 996 is a real challenge to get right. When you get it right, you feel like a hero. The 3.8 is perfect in every way. The 4.0 is the 3.8 turned up to 11, just too valuable and collectable to push now. The 1M is the best front engine/rwd chassis factory M car ever imo (that includes the E30, E36, E46, E90 M3 which I have owned). 2011 was a great year.
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      04-11-2014, 10:21 AM   #13
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Good write up. I am lucky enough to have the 1m, 4.0 and 3.8 rs, and 996 gt3. They are all incredible and must have's for BMW M/Porsche collectors as truly great drivers cars. The 996 gt3 is the most fun to me because its limits are lower so more usable than the 997 RS' on the street. With no drivers aids except ABS, the 996 is a real challenge to get right. When you get it right, you feel like a hero. The 3.8 is perfect in every way. The 4.0 is the 3.8 turned up to 11, just too valuable and collectable to push now. The 1M is the best front engine/rwd chassis factory M car ever imo (that includes the E30, E36, E46, E90 M3 which I have owned). 2011 was a great year.
It's funny, because the 4.0's owner also owned those exact cars, and said something nearly identical. I come from older cars mostly, and tend to see the 996 GT3 as a bridge between them and the new stuff. It has many of the old car traits, but dialed back so they are there but don't try to kill you, where the new cars (up through the 991 now) try to mask them so completely that eventually they'll feel mid-engined. So yes, I agree on the 996; it's probably a good time to pick one up before everyone else clues in.

It's such a shame the 4.0s are getting mothballed because of the stratospheric values- so good. I must admit my guilt as well, though, in that I have the same issue with my '69 912 Cup. Someone made me an offer that made me realize what it's worth, and since then I've had trouble driving it as intended. Luckily with the 1M I've gone the opposite direction- I've got 52k miles on it so far, but why care about resale if I never sell it? I'm with you on the 1M chassis BTW, even if I've only owned this and the E46 M3.

If you're a PCA member you might check out the new Pano issue that should be hitting your doorstep about now. I did the writeup in that, including the 540 hp 4.1- interesting beast.
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      04-11-2014, 10:27 AM   #14
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Great write up Pete!

Why do you think the RS has appreciated so much while the Gt2 hasn't? It was pretty dam limited too
997 GT3 and GT3 RS prices have increased dramatically lately. Common reasoning behind this is the advent of the 991 GT3 and it's lack of a manual gearbox and perhaps the addition of the rear steer. Now all of a sudden everyone is looking for the last of the stick shifts.
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      04-11-2014, 12:48 PM   #15
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Interesting what you said about the axis of rotation on the GT2 and having all that additional mass back there. Makes sense. I've driven a couple on track but never for long enough to really get familiar with the car.

Also understand what you are saying about the expensive and complicated motor. I sold one a couple years ago and Porsche dinged the car based on how many times the motor had been taken to NEAR redline. Mind you not too or over, but close to redline. They said if the motor popped they would potentially not cover it. Took a while too sell because of this.

The 996 GT3 was and still is the most fun vehicle I've ever driven on track. It's the perfect blend or power, control and feedback. I keep my eye out for a deal on one but alas I don't think they will ever get into the $50k range.
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      04-11-2014, 01:48 PM   #16
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Pete, GREAT write up. It's so difficult to try to relay in words the "feel" or dynamics of anything that elicits an emotional response, such as driving Car A vs, Car B at it's limits. Thanks for the summary... you painted a very succinct picture, and very well at that!

With that said, it's funny how with cars the ones that are slightly less refined, or the ones that reach their limits easier, are more "fun" on the street. Though less capable on the track, the day to day experience can be more enjoyable. Same reason the Toybaru/BRZ's with skinny tires are enjoyed by so many for example. The 1M is probably more than capable for the majority of its owners.... The Porsche alternatives above are no doubt awesome, but for the daily run to work, or the grocery store, I think I'd want to beat my head against the dash if I couldn't go track them at least 1x a month. Then again I drive a 135... if I had a 1M I'd probably feel the same way .
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      04-11-2014, 01:51 PM   #17
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Good write up. I am lucky enough to have the 1m, 4.0 and 3.8 rs, and 996 gt3. They are all incredible and must have's for BMW M/Porsche collectors as truly great drivers cars. The 996 gt3 is the most fun to me because its limits are lower so more usable than the 997 RS' on the street. With no drivers aids except ABS, the 996 is a real challenge to get right. When you get it right, you feel like a hero. The 3.8 is perfect in every way. The 4.0 is the 3.8 turned up to 11, just too valuable and collectable to push now. The 1M is the best front engine/rwd chassis factory M car ever imo (that includes the E30, E36, E46, E90 M3 which I have owned). 2011 was a great year.
wow!
I really loved my E30 M3... and while I would love to say I love it more than the 1M.... Since I haven't sold my 1M to bring over an E30 M3 sport Evo... yet.. i guess I would have to agree.
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      04-11-2014, 04:01 PM   #18
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With that said, it's funny how with cars the ones that are slightly less refined, or the ones that reach their limits easier, are more "fun" on the street. Though less capable on the track, the day to day experience can be more enjoyable. Same reason the Toybaru/BRZ's with skinny tires are enjoyed by so many for example.
There is certainly more than a little truth to idea that flaws make a car. The early 911 is an example- engine in the wrong place, trailing throttle oversteer, but a timeless car that even a serious driver might never master.

A couple weeks ago I had another good lesson in car dynamics and enjoyment when I autocrossed an early 912 and a 993 back to back. The 993 was all stock, while the 912 had slightly more power, stickier tires and good shocks.

The amazing thing was that both cars were identically fast, to the tenth, on this particular course. But while the 993 got there using a big straight line speed advantage, the 912 managed it with spectacularly adjustable balance. On skinny 175/70/15 tires it carried a huge slip angle everywhere- something like 12 degrees is peak grip on those tires. But on a fast run you simply linked drifts the entire way around the course, never fully hooked up. If it only had a little more power to hold those drifts it would be unbelievable.

It makes interesting food for thought in light of the discussion above. What makes a car fun? Slip angle? Adjust-ability? Involvement? It certainly isn't simply speed against the clock or G forces, part of the reason I'm such a fan of the manual transmission despite the fact that automatics are now measurable "better" in nearly every way. And I certainly foresee a time in the near future when cars are "too fast", and real driver's cars are the slow ones. It sounds ridiculous, I know, but consider: An 80s Ferrari F40 is, by the clock to 60 mph or through the slalom, not much quicker than a new Honda Accord V6- call it high 4s to mid 5 seconds. Project this forwards 25 years and a sedan will be just behind today's hypercars in terms of speed.

Technology will make this not only possible but reasonably safe, but how much fun can you reasonably have with a Veyron Supersport on public roads today? Driving something like that's a constant exercise in self-restraint. You can deploy 100% of that car for a couple seconds, at best, before risking your license. Maybe fun occasionally, but day in and out I'm not ashamed to admit I'd like something lower and more involving. Where will this leave sports cars when average sporty SUVs and sedans are pulling 10s in the quarter? We'll see, but I for one am looking to get off the "must be faster" train. At least for some of my cars, anyway
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      04-14-2014, 12:14 PM   #19
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It makes interesting food for thought in light of the discussion above. What makes a car fun? Slip angle? Adjust-ability? Involvement? It certainly isn't simply speed against the clock or G forces, part of the reason I'm such a fan of the manual transmission despite the fact that automatics are now measurable "better" in nearly every way. And I certainly foresee a time in the near future when cars are "too fast", and real driver's cars are the slow ones. It sounds ridiculous, I know, but consider: An 80s Ferrari F40 is, by the clock to 60 mph or through the slalom, not much quicker than a new Honda Accord V6- call it high 4s to mid 5 seconds. Project this forwards 25 years and a sedan will be just behind today's hypercars in terms of speed.

Technology will make this not only possible but reasonably safe, but how much fun can you reasonably have with a Veyron Supersport on public roads today? Driving something like that's a constant exercise in self-restraint. You can deploy 100% of that car for a couple seconds, at best, before risking your license. Maybe fun occasionally, but day in and out I'm not ashamed to admit I'd like something lower and more involving. Where will this leave sports cars when average sporty SUVs and sedans are pulling 10s in the quarter? We'll see, but I for one am looking to get off the "must be faster" train. At least for some of my cars, anyway
^ This EXACTLY... all of it. I couldn't have said it better myself. The driving experience is SO much more than numbers on a spreadsheet... and the adjective of "faster" is just that... faster; nothing more, nothing less. And as cool as that adjective may be, for me anyway, there are about 30 others that I can think of that are more enjoyable... in the "driving experience"
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      04-14-2014, 02:43 PM   #20
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My rear tires are a smaller circumference and my speedo is not accurate. I don't even bother to look at it on straights. It must be the drag from my go pro.
Mark and Robert are both referring to their speedo readings which are over overstating actual speed due to BMW's speedometer safety factor and their smaller track tires. Your 139 mph is probably the max for a 1M at COTA.
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      04-14-2014, 08:11 PM   #21
Jay-K
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nice write ups!
it is a serious beast .
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      04-14-2014, 09:24 PM   #22
p66
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bdaddylo
Quote:
Originally Posted by p66 View Post
My rear tires are a smaller circumference and my speedo is not accurate. I don't even bother to look at it on straights. It must be the drag from my go pro.
Mark and Robert are both referring to their speedo readings which are over overstating actual speed due to BMW's speedometer safety factor and their smaller track tires. Your 139 mph is probably the max for a 1M at COTA.
Whew, now I can cancel that nitrous system.
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