For BMW's return to the 24 Hours of Le Mans
We’ve known for a while that BMW planned to bring back the range-topping 8 Series luxury coupe. When we finally got a look at the concept car, it was an absolute jaw-dropper. We’ve also heard that there’s already an M8 under development. But before you can buy either the regular 8 Series or the M8, you’ll get to see BMW return to the World Endurance Championship with the M8 GTE race car.
Just unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show, the M8 GTE puts a seriously aggressive spin on the 8 Series concept we’ve already seen. There’s a massive wing, side skirts, an aggressive front splitter, and huge air intakes, all wrapped in BMW’s racing livery. Thanks to lots of carbon fiber-reinforced polymer, the whole car weighs in at only 2,690 pounds (1,220 kg), and under the hood, the M8 GTE packs a twin-turbo V-8 making more than 500 hp. Power is sent to the rear wheels via a six-speed sequential transmission.
This will be BMW’s first Le Mans car since 2011, but the M8 GTE won’t compete exclusively as a WEC car. It’ll also take part in the International Motor Sports Association’s WeatherTech SportsCar Championship here in North America.
“The BMW M8 GTE is our new GT flagship and will go head to head with the strong opposition in this sector,” said Jens Marquardt, BMW’s head of motorsports, in a statement. “The FIA WEC and the IMSA series in North America are a top competitive environment for our new challenger. With the BMW M8 GTE, we are bringing cutting-edge technology to the top international class of GT racing, whilst at the same time tying in with our tradition at Le Mans. The development of the BMW M8 GTE is on schedule, and we can hardly wait to see the car challenging for victories in 2018.”
BMW’s also upfront about the fact that the M8 GTE has been co-developed alongside the road-going M8 it’ll eventually sell. Presumably, the aero kit will have to be changed out for something a little subtler, but BMW claims there’s a close relationship between the M8 and the M8 GTE. How true that is still remains to be seen, but at the very least the headlights, taillights, and roofline should remain the same. Sadly, the ridiculously cool side view mirrors probably won’t end up on the road car, but you may see some of the race car’s three-dimensional printing and artificial intelligence-assisted software make it to production.
Look for the BMW M8 GTE to make its racing debut at next year’s 24 Hours of Daytona.