The Bavarian manufacturer doesn't compete in MotoGP, but it's well represented at the front of the pack.
BMW is no stranger to racing – and it's well acquainted with making motorcycles, too. But while it fields teams in some of the most prominent motorcycle races around the world, it doesn't compete at the very top. That doesn't mean it isn't well represented in the MotoGP championship, though.
For the past twenty years, BMW has been furnishing the safety cars (and other support vehicles) for the grand-prix motorcycle racing series. And over those two decades, it has produced some pretty cool ones – what we'd call “pace cars” on our side of the Atlantic.
Not least of them is the M5 performance sedan that's held the job this past year. But while that may be the fastest and most capable of them, it's not the first – and may not even been the coolest.
That, to our eyes has to be the Z8. The closest thing to a supercar (with apologies to the i8 hybrid) that BMW has made since the M1, the Z8 was a retro-styled roadster built in limited quantities after the turn of the millennium, and lead the MotoGP pack back in 2002.
In between, BMW has converted many others into MotoGP safety cars – including the Z4 M coupe , the 1 Series M Coupe, and the current M2, M4, and M6 Gran Coupe. And it's supplied others, like the X5 M medical vehicle and a pair of S 1000 R safety bikes.
It's even gifted a string of M cars to the top qualifier in the series each year – all of which have, for the past six years, been won by the same rider. We're not sure how Honda feels about its star Marc Marquez riding around in his fleet of free Bimmers, but we doubt he minds much.