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    Mark Riccioni
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    MARK R’S E61 M5 TOURING / #BMW-E61 / #BMW-M5 / #BMW-M5-Touring / #BMW-M5-Touring-E61 / #BMW-M5-E61 / #V10 / #BMW / #BMW-5-Series / #BMW-5-Series-E61 / #BMW-5-Series-Touring / #BMW-5-Series-Touring-E61 / #BMW-5-Series-M5 / #BMW-5-Series-M5-E61 / #S85B50 / #S85 / #BMW-S85 / #BMW

    Winter is a pretty bleak time for petrolheads in Britain. It’s not like other countries where you’re blessed with actual snow and frozen lakes to drift – you get rain, a bit more rain, and if you’re really lucky some of that extra-cold rain.

    The one saving grace with this is the time it gives you to embark on a proper winter makeover for 2017. But I’m not talking about super-glossy paintwork or stanced wheels for the M5, but instead some good ol’ fashioned track day prep! My E61 M5 Touring is – and always will be – a road car, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be prepped for track use without having a negative effect on its road-going abilities. Unfortunately I’m mechanically inept when it comes to working on a car, so I entrusted the team at Regal Autosport in Southampton to ensure the M5 was ready for a summer of abuse. From supercharging Audi R8s to tuning 750hp Porsche Turbos, Regal Autosport are definitely no strangers when it comes to prepping rare, highly-strung cars for road and track use. Put simply, if a £150,000 supercar is in safe hands here, the M5 Touring definitely hasn’t got anything to worry about.

    After chatting with Ash at Regal we put together a plan for the M5’s track prep, starting with installation of the AP Racing brake kit I picked up earlier in the year. This is probably the most comprehensive kit available for the E60/E61 M5 if you’re intending to hit the track, an absolute must given how disappointing (and short-lived) the OE brakes are the circuit. With the M5 Touring weighing just under two tonnes, the AP Racing kit comprises six-piston calipers matched with 378x36mm two-piece discs up front, and fourpiston calipers with 366x26mm two-piece discs on the rear. Serious brakes for a serious car while remaining totally compliant on the road.

    Next on the list was tyres, and there was only one model I had in mind for the M5 – Michelin Pilot Super Sports. A firm favourite within the M performance world (and fitted as standard to newer models including the M3), I opted for the OE M5 sizes which come in at 255/40 19 and 275/35 19. Pilot Super Sports remain one of the best-handling tyres for road and track use as well as being rated to over 188mph. Looks like that 166mph limiter will need removing next…

    Brakes fitted, rubber mounted and an oil/filter change later, it was ready for one of the most important parts of track prep – proper alignment and setup. Often overlooked, a proper laser alignment and fast road setup will more often than not yield greater performance gains than any fancy bolt-on mod. You can’t just fit performance parts and expect ‘em to transform your car without being setup properly first.

    Camber, toe-in and castor now adjusted, the M5 was aligned for a conservative fast-road setup to provide a good base on the track. With additional camber and toe adjustability available if necessary, the M5 already feels completely transformed prior to being aligned with far less understeer and improved turn-in. Perfect. The real test will come when it hits the track next month – who’s betting we’ll have some rain…?

    Regal Autosport 02380 558636
    Michelin Tyres 0845 3661590
    Wheel Alignment Centre 02380 332906
    AP Racing 024 7663 9595

    Stock M5 brakes not up to the job on track.

    Monster AP Racing brakes now fitted all-round.
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    / #BMW-E61 / #BMW-M5 / #BMW-M5-Touring / #BMW-M5-Touring-E61 / #BMW-M5-E61 / V10 / #BMW / #BMW-5-Series / #BMW-5-Series-E61 / #BMW-5-Series-Touring / #BMW-5-Series-Touring-E61 / #BMW-5-Series-M5 / #BMW-5-Series-M5-E61 / #S85B50 / #S85 / #BMW-S85 / BMW

    Manufacturers often strive for perfection. From the power delivery right through to the aerodynamics, the modern car is becoming freakishly perfect for the modern driver – a fact helped in part by stricter emissions combined with improved technologies. It’s safe to say BMW wasn’t striving for perfection when it built the M5 Touring. Its fuel tank is too small, the gearbox feels as smooth as root canal surgery and the engine burns oil so fast it’ll need a full oil change every 6000 miles or so. The on-board computer is way too complicated. The brakes give up after a few laps on track and the engine lacks any real grunt below 5000rpm.

    It’s the polar opposite of modern motoring, but you know what? That’s really not a bad thing. Because it’s those imperfections – those quirks, which at times become annoyances – which give a car character and charm. If there’s one thing the M5 Touring doesn’t lack, it’s charm. Who in their right mind thought it’d be a good idea to wedge a 507hp, naturally aspirated #V10 into a car that usually ends up doing the motorway commute? It’s not just the horsepower that makes this a terrible, brilliant idea but it’s the type of engine. High-revving V10s have almost always been exclusive to the world of racing and supercars, but not cars available in a Touring platform. It’s not some cross-platform shared engine, either. The S85 lump is exclusive to the E6x M5/M6 platform – never used before and never used again.

    I made the jump into M5 ownership back in March 2015, and truth be told I had no idea what I was getting myself into... Probably a good thing in hindsight. It’s a car that’s all about its engine, but just jumping in and planting your foot will most likely leave you feeling underwhelmed.

    It takes time to get to grips with. There’s a particular way – a specific set of modes – where the M5 works best. Stray from any of these and it’ll punish you, usually with crippling understeer, kangaroo gear changes or simply lack of low-down power. Truth be told, had I known all of this prior to ownership I probably wouldn’t have bothered. I like a car to be simple, one mode (preferably fast) and that’s it. But I’m glad I didn’t, as it’s undoubtedly my favourite car I’ve ever owned and my first foray into BMW ownership. Two years in and I’m ready to start a new chapter with the M5 Touring. Not selling it – absolutely no chance of that happening – but rather tweaking it with an array of carefully selected modifications that’ll further improve the ownership and experience rather than hinder it. In my mind I’m imagining an almost Clubsport-spec Estate, if that could ever be considered a thing, or should I say CSL edition. Brakes, exhaust, suspension and tyres are pretty high on my list – I don’t want to take it too far into the realm of being too specific or track-focused, after all the ability to actually throw the dog in the back and drive it everyday is what I love about it. But a few modifications wouldn’t hurt... Right? See more pictures of the build over at @mark_scenemedia on Instagram.
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    Mark Riccioni
    Mark Riccioni joined the group BMW E60 Club 5-series
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