Up on the rooftop of the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, an invited group of BMW Executives, race car drivers and car fans including comedian David Letterman, a longstanding Indy fan, gathered for the unveiling of the new BMW M Hybrid V8. This iconic race car represents a turning point towards electrification for BMW M.
The BMW M Motorsport returns to one of the most iconic car races, the 24 Hours of Le Mans (FRA), and will make its debut season in the 2023 IMSA Weathertech Sportscar Championship. This sports car racing series is based in the United States and Canada that is organized by the International Motor Sports Association. This race car will also take on the top-class opposition in the Hypercars category in the official FIA World Endurance Championship, the world’s premier international sportscar championship.
For the BMW M Hybrid V8, BMW M Motorsport has been working with legendary Italian race car specialists Dallara. Regulations specify that LMDh (Le Mans Daytona h) race cars must have a combustion engine and an electric motor. The BMW M Hybrid V8 is powered by the P66/3 eight-cylinder turbo engine with supplementary electric drive.
Head of BMW M Motorsport, Andreas Roos, and Michael Scully, Global Director, Automotive and Advanced Design at Designworks approached the car covered in a black silk, providing a sense of mystique as the crowd was eager to get its first peek at the cutting-edge design and innovative technology.
As the silky black cover was slowly pulled back, it revealed the low-to-the-ground, forward-leaning shark nose. The boomerang-shaped guide vane just behind the front wheel offered a striking look. A bold and modern design includes fractal blocks and iconic M logo in red, white and blue colors.
Typical BMW design elements include the M ‘hook’ mirrors. Another standout feature is the BMW icon lights and the tail lights. Blue and purple elements simulate the natural colors of electricity.
BMW M race car drivers Connor De Phillippi (USA) and Sheldon van der Linde (RSA) walked up to car and shared how they will alternate at the wheel. “It’s been an honor and a pleasure to complete the first laps of the BMW M Hybrid V8”, said De Phillippi. “This was a historic day for BMW M Motorsport within the LMDh project. Step by step we went through all functions of the car and by the end of the day we were able to do some laps with nearly full power, which is a good result for a roll-out.” He gave a huge thank you to everybody working so hard for this project at BMW M Motorsport, BMW M Team RLL, BMW M Team RMG and Dallara.
De Phillippi and van der Linde discussed how the hybrid race car handles while they alternate at the wheel. “It’s been an honor and a pleasure to complete the first laps of the BMW M Hybrid V8”, said De Phillippi. “This was a historic day for BMW M Motorsport within the LMDh project. Step by step we went through all functions of the car and by the end of the day we were able to do some laps with nearly full power, which is a good result for a roll-out.”
They hope to achieve what drivers Joachim Winkelhock (GER), Pierluigi Martini (ITA) and Yannick Dalmas (FRA) did back in 1999, taking overall victory after 24 hours of racing in the BMW V12 LMR. In the same year, the car also triumphed at the 12 Hours of Sebring (USA). Its new successor, the BMW M Hybrid V8, will compete in that race in 2023.
On the BMW Motorsport website, Franciscus van Meel, CEO of BMW M GmbH states, ‘The BMW M Hybrid V8 is more than just a race car, it is paving the way for an electric future for BMW M, by emphatically demonstrating how dynamic and emotional electrified M Power can be.’
Testing has been taking place for this first BMW M Motorsport prototype since the legendary BMW V12 LMR completed its first laps at the roll-out in Varano de Melegari (ITA). More European tests took place in August, before BMW M Team RLL and a crew of BMW M Motorsport experts started IMSA-specific preparations with testing in the USA.
Now the team will start the intensive test work before the race debut in January 2023 at Daytona. The BMW M Hybrid V8 used the Dallara test track for its first functional test, and over the course of the test phase, numerous BMW M works drivers will be at the wheel leading up to each race.