Though it’s easy to associate BMW with touring cars when thinking about motorsport, it has some enviable sportscar heritage as well - not least the 1999 Le Mans victory with the staggering V12 LMR. Next year it’ll return to top level sportscar racing - a Le Mans Daytona hybrid, alongside the Le Mans Hypercars - with this, the M Hybrid V8.
There’s plenty still under wraps for the moment, but the BMW already promises to be a spectacular racing car if nothing else. Naturally its maker prefers to highlight cues that relate it to civilian automobiles - some big kidney grilles, a Hofmeister kink and mirrors like an M3 - but that’s like saying Olympic sprinters have eyes and ears like the rest of us. The M Hybrid V8 is unlike anything we’ve seen from BMW for a very long time; it may say those features make it instantly recognisable, but we’d wager the badge and the snazzy 50th anniversary livery are doing much more of the work here than the “twin BMW icon lights” or “dynamic body side.”
Whatever though, it looks cool, and another V8 racing car in the world can’t be a bad thing. The M Hybrid V8 will compete in next season’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in the US, the whole series getting a shakeup as LMDh and LMH-spec cars replace the existing DPI (Daytona Prototype International) racers for 2023. That’s alongside the World Endurance Championship adopting the same rules, bringing together FIA and IMSA sportscars for the first time in yonks and hopefully meaning bigger grids as cars are eligible for more races.
Expect more details as that season nears (testing is now underway). For now, BMW M CEO Franciscus van Meel has said of the M Hybrid V8: “The most critical task and the greatest challenge for the design team in the LMDh programme design team was that the prototype must be clearly recognisable as a BMW M Motorsport car… It clearly carries the genes of BMW M. Congratulations to the design and aerodynamics departments at BMW M Motorsport and Dallara on their great work. I can hardly wait to see the BMW M Hybrid V8 on the track soon.”
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