BMW’s latest entry into the world of GT racing is the stunning new M8 GTE, based on the upcoming 8 Series road car. It was a unique opportunity for BMW to develop a new road car and a race car simultaneously, but they’ve taken full advantage of this chance to create what may be their most promising race car yet. Thanks to the diligence of BMW Motorsport engineers, the 8 Series won’t even be on sale by the time this car begins its first year of competition in IMSA and WEC early next year, but it’ll still bare close resemblance to the road car that we’ll eventually get.
Here’s what we know…
BMW’s motorsport and production engineers worked together closely to ensure the 8 Series could serve as the ideal platform for the M8 GTE. All M8 GTE/GTLMs will be born from the same BMW Group Plant Dingolfing production line as the standard 8 Series will also use some of its engine components. The link between road car and race car is real.
The basis for the M8 GTE’s looks is a particular 8 Series/M8 that we haven’t even seen yet, and that’s the final production version which may not even be shown until this racecar already has a few races to its name. In particular, the roof line, headlights, taillights, and the general shape of the kidney grilles are identical to the road car.
Weight reduction was also a priority among both teams, but the motorsport engineers took it even further with an extensive use of carbon fiber-reinforced plastic. That plus the car’s carbon core (likely from the road car) means this not small race car weighs in at less than 2,700 pounds. Series regulations and balancing dictate how much a car can truly weigh, of course.
When designing the new bodywork, motorsport engineers were able to use a new algorithm to make significantly more CFD calculations in less time. Translation: the aerodynamic efficiency will be better than ever. Other aspects of the car’s development were aided by “virtual development” and 3D printing. Some software, like the traction control, was even developed with the assistance of artificial intelligence.
Finally, a new power plant has been prepped for endurance racing duty and that’s a new 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8. Series regulations have limited it to a 4.0-liter displacement as opposed to the 4.4-liters the M6 GT3 and GTLM runs now, but available power is still over 500 hp at up to 7,000 RPM. BoP regulations set the final numbers of course. There’s a chance that this correlates to a 4.0-liter V8 for the road-going M8 as well since the light alloy cylinder block and cylinder heads are lifted from the production engine.
Power is channeled through a six-speed sequential gearbox with a Sachs carbon fiber clutch and a CFRP drive shaft. There’s a limited-slip differential and loads of BMW Motorsport racer-assistance tech to keep it on the track. Like its predecessor, it rides on a double-wishbone suspension front and rear, has four-way adjustable shocks at each corner, and has quick-adjustment anti-roll bars. Drivers will benefit from a new (to BMW) rear-view camera with object recognition displayed on a screen in the cockpit.
There’s a lot going on in the new BMW M8 GTE and so far initial testing has been positive. It’ll make its first competition debut in the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona next January in the GTLM class. Some other big news is this will also be BMW’s return to WEC and the 24 Hours of Le Mans, a race that hasn’t seen a BMW since 2011. As of now there isn’t word of whether this will replace the M6 in GT3 as well, but I can assume it will in a slightly de-tuned form.
Welcome back, BMW.