events31 Jan 2018

On 27-28 January, the season opener of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship at the Daytona International Speedway, USA, saw the racing career of the new BMW M8 GTE officially begin.

Jesse Krohn (FIN), John Edwards (USA), Nick Catsburg (NED) and Augusto Farfus (BRA) finished seventh in GTLM class, while team-mates Alexander Sims (GBR), Connor De Phillippi (USA), Bill Auberlen (USA) and Philipp Eng (AUT) came ninth with the second car entered by BMW Team RLL.

No other new BMW GT race car has ever been more dependable on its debut race. Both cars showed great reliability and were able to complete the 24-hour race without any major technical issues.

Relatively few incidents occured over the course of the 24 hours of racing, with only four full-course cautions

The given Balance of Performance (BoP) meant that the cars were unfortunately always going to be out of contention for the top positions. The BoP system is an integral part of global sports car racing including the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, so BMW and IMSA have agreed to search for an appropriate BoP assessment to allow the BMW M8 GTE to demonstrate its true performance ahead of upcoming events.

As a result of hitting debris on the track during the sixth hour, the four drivers of car number 25 suffered a blow when the BMW M8 GTE's front tyre burst. Repair works took 30 minutes before Auberlen was able to rejoin. Further repair pit stops took place as a result of the incident, and car number 25 took ninth place after 731 laps. The drivers of car number 24 crossed the finish line in seventh position after a flawless 773 laps.

“Our BMW M8 GTE successfully completed its baptism of fire here at Daytona,” said BMW Motorsport Director Jens Marquardt. “To finish such a tough debut race with both cars after 24 hours without major technical problems is something we can be more than proud of."

Never before were more laps completed at Daytona than in this year's edition of the race

Speaking in an interview ahead of the race, BMW Motorsport Director Jens Marquardt looked back on the development of the BMW M8 GTE.

Take us through the development of the car over the past few months. How did it all begin?​

Marquardt: “The roots of the GTE project lie in a combination of many aspects. At the start of the programme, back in 2015, the goal was to expand our activities in traditional motor racing – BMW M Motorsport – and to position ourselves even more internationally. At the same time, the possible return to Le Mans brought its very own fascination for our team. However, the most important factor was that the production model, the BMW 8 Series Coupé, was developed at the same time. We were given a green light from the board to develop a thoroughbred GTE racing car, parallel with the colleagues in production development. That is how it all began. For the first time in BMW Motorsport history the race car will be in action before its series counterpart.”

Does the joint development mean that the BMW M8 GTE is more similar to its production counterpart than any other BMW race car?

Marquardt: “When you look at the regulations, the engine in the BMW M6 GT3 is extremely close to that in the production model. However, we were able to make more substantial changes to the chassis. In the case of the BMW M8 GTE, the chassis is closer to the production model, but the engine had to be modified significantly. The most important thing is that we based the BMW M6 GT3 on an existing car. That was different this time. Because the race car will be in action before the production car, we worked intensively with the design department from a very early point to ensure that were on the same page when it came to the design. That worked very well.”

To what extent does the development work continue after the first race in Daytona?

Marquardt: “After the car has been homologated, there are some areas in which we can, and may, make changes. We can still do some work on the software, in particular. We will also continue to work on aligning the BMW M8 GTE with all its systems, and will integrate all the reference values we have acquired."

Given the tough conditions that both cars faced, BMW Motorsport Director Jens Marquardt is proud of the results

Find out more about the BMW M8 GTE's concept production counterpart, the BMW 8 Series Coupé, here.

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