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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.

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