Centurion, Gauteng – You don’t have to be Italian to understand that the ‘O’ in GTO stands for ‘Omologato’, a homologation special, a hand-built, high-performance model built in just sufficient numbers to make it eligible for production-based racing.

And that’s what you’re looking at here, only BMW doesn’t mince words. The BMW HP4 Race is exactly what the label says, a racing version of the S1000 RR superbike, a streetbike in name only of which just 750 examples will be hand-built in BMW Motorrad’s Spandau skunk works to satisfy FIA eligibility requirements.

The upside is that a few lucky (and very wealthy) enthusiasts will get the chance to ride this extraordinary machine on track days (it's not street legal) let’s face it, a close-ratio ‘box and ultra-short gearing do not make for happy commuting anyway.

The engine is handbuilt to specifications 6.2 and 7.2 of the FIA Endurance and World Superbike regulations, delivering a quoted 158kW at 13 900 revs and 120Nm at 10 000rpm, with its rev limit raised from 14 200 to 14 500rpm. A six speed close-ratio racing gearbox is standard and the bike comes with a range of front and rear sprockets in the box.

The light stuff

According to the maker, it’s the first production motorcycle with a monocoque frame made entirely of carbon fibre, weighing just 7.8 kilograms, allied to a carbon-fibre subframe with three-way adjustment for seat height and carbon-fibre wheels.

Carbon-fibre wheels are nothing new: Blackstone Tek of North Riding in Johannesburg has been making them for more than a decade as aftermarket fitment for road and track (with more than 22 000 sold, the technology is well proven) but this is the first time carbon-fibre wheels have been specified as factory kit on a BMW motorcycle.

The underslung aluminium-alloy swing arm on the HP4 Race – welded up from a mix of sheet metal pressings and ‘billet’ components machined from solid blocks of metal – comes straight out of BMW’s World Superbike racing programme, while the Ohlins FGR 300 inverted forks and TTX 36 GP rear monoshock are standard MotoGP components, as are the chemically nickel-coated Brembo GP4 PR monobloc brake callipers, each with four coated titanium pistons.

The fuel tank is made of aluminium, hand brushed and clear-coated so nobody will ever mistake your bike for a standard S1000 RR, and the carbon-fibre body panels are held in place by quick-detachable snaps, rather than screws, for quick work in the pits. Even the electrical system has been optimised for weight, with a tiny 5Ah lithium ion battery.

BMW quotes kerb weight with a full tank as 171kg; to put that in perspective, BMW’s current World Superbike machines weigh more than that.

Gizmotronics galore

The bike comes with a bewildering array of electronic control and assistance systems, including dynamic traction control, engine braking regulation and wheelie control, each of which can be programmed through 15 levels, individually for each gear.

Also included are a programmable pit lane speed limiter and launch control for perfect starts, all controlled via a 2D dashboard with a 2D logger giving you transferable data memory.

The BMW HP4 Race will be available in South Africa in very limited numbers from September 2017. Price will be announced closer to launch.

IOL Motoring

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