After his dreams of making it big on the American open-wheel scene failed to materialise, Andreas Wirth reinvented himself in Europe as a factory GT ace, developing the torquey BMW-powered Alpina B6 GT3 (pictured in 2011) alongside fellow Formula BMW champion Jens Klingmann. The pair won on only the car’s second outing in the ADAC GT Masters at the Nürburgring in 2009 and did the double there a year later, before Wirth moved onto the Callaway Corvette team. The German now drives for SMP Racing in the ELMS LMP2 category.
My first GT3 race was in 2009, with the Alpina in the ADAC GT Masters series; everything I had done until then was just single-seaters. Being part of a manufacturer team and being responsible for developing a really cool race car was amazing, even with a small manufacturer like Alpina. It was very interesting to develop and improve a car from the early stages, this we did for two years until the car was really, really good.
It looked big and it was big, but it drove really well. If you had that car today, I think it would still be competitive. When Alpina said they wanted to use the 6 Series as a baseline, BMW said they were crazy and in the end we smoked their arses with their own factory-built Z4! No question why BMW decided after the Z4 they would race with the 6 Series!
I really remember the 24 Hour of Nürburgring in 2009 where we had a fast car and we were running in the top eight, which was a huge success for a brand new car, I think in our class we were around P5 or P6, but two hours before the end we had a gearbox failure. The guys worked really hard to get the gearbox out of a very hot car that had been running for the last 22 hours so we could get back on track for the last half an hour or so, that was quite something. We still made it to the end, not as hoped for in the top six that we were able to make it to the end was a success just in itself.
GT3 has been a huge success, going forward I hope the organisers are going to take care of what the original idea was. They’ve done a good job so far, but I hope that around the world they are not making a mistake by allowing manufacturers to support it too much and push out the small teams who have brought GT3 up to where it is right now.
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