BMW will return to the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2018 with a new GTE challenger that is also eligible for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in North America. The German manufacturer has announced an entry into the GTE Pro class of the World Endurance Championship, which includes Le Mans, with a successor to the M6 GT LM that made its debut in this year’s IMSA series
It is part of what BMW is calling a “strategic realignment” of its motorsport activities that includes a cooperation with the Andretti Formula E team. The WEC entry is part of a renewed commitment to GT racing that will include continued participation in IMSA with the Rahal team and the introduction of a new M4 racer for the GT4 category. ‘Strategic realignment’ includes GTE entry in WEC, IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship
The move will take BMW back to Le Mans for the first time since 2011 and into the reborn WEC for a maiden campaign. It competed in the 24 Hours with the M3 GT2 in 2010 and again the following season as part of an assault on the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup, the forerunner to the new WEC.
The WEC entry is part of a renewed commitment to GT racing that will include continued participation in IMSA with the Rahal team and the introduction of a new M4 racer for the GT4 category.
BMW Motorsport boss Jens Marquardt said, “Starting with the 2018 season, we want to further expand our activities in GT racing and compete in the WEC, as well as the IMSA SportsCar Championship. The way the WEC has developed so well makes us confident that there is a big future for GT racing.”
The health of GT racing, he continued, provided the “motivation behind our further expansion in the customer racing sector.”
“Our range is already spearheaded by a successful representative in the form of the BMW M6 GT3,” he explained. “As of 2018, we will also be excellently represented by the BMW M4 GT4 in the GT4 class, which is currently experiencing something of a boom.”
BMW has yet to reveal details of the replacement for the M6 GT LM. Permission was granted by IMSA and BMW’s rivals in the GT Le Mans class to allow it to compete with an upgraded version of its M6 GT3, which means it is not eligible for the WEC.
Options could include an M-brand car based on the common chassis platform shared by the 5-, 6- and 7-Series cars and the forthcoming Z5, which replaces the Z4 and is being co-developed with Toyota.