BMW is the latest manufacturer to get tempted back to endurance racing via the new LMDh rules, although it’ll focus on IMSA rather than the WEC
Convincing major manufacturers to splurge a load of money on your new motorsport category is easier said than done, but LMDh (Le Mans Daytona Hybrid) seems to have the big guns coming out in droves. Already, Acura, Audi and Porsche are signed up to the regulations, which sit across both the IMSA-organised WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and the FIA’s World Endurance Championship.
Now, you can add BMW to that list. However, unlike Audi and Porsche, BMW will be focusing on the former series, and not entering the latter. For now, at least, it seems there are no plans to return to Le Mans, where BMW nabbed the outright win with the V12 LMR in 1999.
Although BMW has always been active in the endurance racing scene, it hasn’t had another go at prototypes since the LMR. Its first go at a top-flight GT car in over 20 years will be a very different beast, though.
A big driver behind the burgeoning popularity of LMDh is cost control, which is done by having various standardised components. There’s a hybrid system for the front axle from Williams/Bosch, and the choice of four chassis from Dallara, Ligier, Multimatic and Oreca.
The internal combustion engine is supplied by the entering manufacturer, and the whole shebang is clothed in unique bodywork. Expect some sizeable kidney grilles on BMW’s shell, judging by some of its recent road cars.
BMW hasn’t yet said which engine it’ll use for the job, but it’s not going to be quite as exciting as the LMR’s powerplant – a naturally-aspirated S70 V12 shared with the McLaren F1. We should hopefully get more details on this front soon, along with the driver lineup for the two cars BMW will be entering from 2023.