This week BMW M Motorsport announced that the year after next they will be back at Le Mans and in WEC competition in a prototype for the first time since 1999. In ’99 drivers Joachim Winkelhock, Pierluigi Martini and Yannick Dalmas took the overall victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in the BMW V12 LMR. That same year the car also experienced triumph at the 12 Hours of Sebring where it’s successor, the BMW M Hybrid V8, will compete in 2023.
“The decision to run the BMW M Hybrid V8 in the IMSA series from 2023 and the WEC from 2024 is a milestone for the project,” Franciscus van Meel, CEO of BMW M GmbH, said. “I sampled and marveled at the extraordinary flair of the 24 Hours of Le Mans during my first term as CEO of BMW M so I am very excited to be challenging for overall victory as BMW M Motorsport again at this classic and in the whole World Endurance Championship for the first time in decades. The IMSA series in North America and the WEC, which takes place all over the world, are the perfect platforms, on which to use our prototype to show how exciting electrified BMW M cars will be in the future.”
Andreas Roos, Head of BMW M Motorsport, had this to say about the return, “Due to the very tight schedule for the LMDh project, the plan has always been to focus on one field of application in the first season of 2023. The IMSA series is perfectly suited for this. However, our mid-term goal was obviously to race on two fronts with the BMW M Hybrid V8, and also to use the major platform provided by the WEC and the 24 Hours of Le mans. We are now working determinedly towards this, at the same time as our programme in North America. We took the next important step on Monday. The car successfully completed its roll-out at Dallara in Varano de Melegari. We now start the intensive test work before the race debut in January 2023 in Daytona.”
The BMW M Hybrid V8 not only used the Dallara test track for it’s first functional test, but spent several days on track with BMW M works drivers Connor De Phillippi and Sheldon van der Linde alternating behind the wheel.
“It’s been an honour and a pleasure to complete the first laps of the BMW M Hybrid V8,” Connor said on Monday. “This was a historic day for BMW M Motorsport within the LMDh project. Step by step we went through all functions of the car and by the end of the day we were able to do some laps with nearly full power, which is a good result for all roll-out. A huge thank you to everybody working so hard for this project at BMW M Motosport, BMW M Team RLL, BMW M Team RMG and Dallara!”
There are more European tests scheduled for August before BMW M Team RLL and a crew of BMW M Motorsport experts begin IMSA specific preparations for USA testing in September.
Over the course of testing numerous BMW M works drivers will be behind the wheel. Drivers for the 2023 IMSA season will be announced at a later date as will the drivers and operations team for the WEC 2024 season.