BMW Motorsport presented its new top-of-the-range model for the international GT racing scene at the Frankfurt Motor Show: the BMW M8 GTE.
Before the BMW 8 Series Coupé goes on sale, the race car will compete on the track next season, including in the FIA World Endurance Championship, thus returning to the iconic 24 Hours of Le Mans.
The close link between production and motor racing is one of the cornerstones of the development of the BMW M8 GTE, and the knowledge gained from race outings with the new car in the FIA WEC and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship (IWSC) in North America will be directly incorporated in the development of the production model, which is running parallel to the motorsport project.
The V8 engine with BMW TwinPower Turbo Technology, which is restricted by regulations to a capacity of fourlitres, has a nominal base output of more than 375kW, depending on the classification.
The cylinder block and cylinder head are taken from the production engine and are produced in the light alloy foundry at the BMW Group plant in Landshut, Germany. The focus of the development work is on achieving the greatest possible efficiency and maximum durability. The powerful production engine provides the perfect basis. The power transmission in the BMW M8 GTE takes place via a sequential, six-speed racing gearbox.
“Virtual development” plays a central role in the development of the BMW M8 GTE. For example, the traction control is being developed with the assistance of an artificial intelligence system. Topology optimisation with 3D printing gives the engineers far greater freedom in their search for innovative and creative solutions for the design of the car. Rapid prototyping also allows them to take delivery of a new part, as a usable prototype, just 24 hours after the virtual development.
Racing and production engineers closely worked together within the framework of the BMW M8 GTE project. For instance, consistent lightweight design also plays a crucial role in the development of the new GT sports car.
A significant weight reduction is achieved through the extensive use of ultra-light CFRP components. At a length of 4,980mm and a width of 2,046mm, the car weighs just 1,220kg. The design of the BMW M8 GTE also reflects the close relationship to the BMW 8 Series and the BMW M8. This is particularly apparent in the same roof line and the design of the front and rear lights.
Work on the aerodynamics of a new race car is as time-consuming as it is indispensable. A new algorithm allows a significant increase in CFD calculations, thus making it possible to use greater computing power to increase the number of possible simulations, before progressing to the wind tunnel. Here, BMW Motorsport benefits from the perfect test conditions in the BMW Group Aero Lab. One of the results of the aero development is innovative aero rims, which will be presented as a concept at Frankfurt
BMW Motorsport will return to Le Mans next year. The last time a BMW race car featured on the grid was back in 2011, with the BMW M3 GT2. One year prior to that, the Jeff Koons’ (USA) BMW M3 GT2 Art Car had caught the eye, as it wrote the latest chapter in the story of the BMW Art Car Collection at Le Mans.
Among the BMW Art Cars that had started previously at Le Mans were Alexander Calder’s (USA, 1975) BMW 3.0 CSL, the BMW 320i designed by Roy Lichtenstein (USA, 1977) and Andy Warhol’s (USA, 1979) BMW M1.
BMW Motorsport’s greatest sporting hour in Le Mans came in 1999, when Yannick Dalmas Joachim Winkelhock and Pierluigi Martini took overall victory in a BMW V12 LMR. The McLaren F1 GTR, powered by a BMW engine, had previously triumphed at the “Circuit de la Sarthe” in 1995.
The first time a BMW car started at the 24 Hours of Le Mans was back in 1939, when a BMW 328 claimed a class victory after 236 laps of racing. After 1972, BMW cars regularly lined up at the endurance classic.