Automaker also partners with Andretti Formula E team
BMW has announced that it is reorganizing its auto racing efforts under one umbrella called BMW Group Motorsport. The racing structure will now include the activities of the Mini and “i” brands, and motorsports development will work toward the goals laid out in BMW’s “Strategy Number One > Next” plan, which calls for cutting-edge technology. The brand also announced it will be returning to Le Mans in 2018. BMW last fielded a works effort at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2011.
BMW says the realignment makes its racing efforts “even more broadly positioned” and allows BMW Motorsport to focus on more key target groups. BMW is committing to GT racing in the FIA World Endurance Championship and IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, touring car racing in DTM, electric open-wheel racing in the FIA Formula E Championship, and off-road rally competition with Mini in the Dakar Rally. The automaker will also continue to offer support to customers racing in GT3 and GT4.
BMW specifically calls out Le Mans when it mentions the World Endurance Championship, and that’s important considering the brand has been absent from the high-profile endurance race for five years. However, don’t expect BMW to follow up its winning V12 LMR program and go for overall glory in the LMP1 class. In 2018, BMW will field a LMGTE effort to compete with the Ferraris, Corvettes, and Porsches that currently dominate the class. BMW currently races the M6 GTLM in the IMSA WeatherTech series, and also has the M6 GT3 and M4 GT4 for those respective classes. At the 2011 24 Hours of Le Mans, a BMW M3 GT2 finished third in the LMGTE class.
Additionally, BMW says the focus on production-based racing will be “further intensified,” which likely means BMW won’t race a hydrogen-powered prototype, as was previously rumored, anytime soon.
For its Formula E campaign, BMW is partnering with the Andretti Formula E team for the 2018/2019 season. The partnership includes engineering collaboration and the sharing of resources. BMW will also provide works driver António Félix da Costa for two seasons. BMW is the latest automaker to join Formula E, following Jaguar, Audi, and Faraday Future.