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      05-22-2019, 09:52 AM   #2

Drives: 2013 M3
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: Vero Beach, FL

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BMW Officially Ends WEC Program; M8 GTLM to Continue in IMSA

Better pay for the LeMans live stream this year, because it might be the last time you see BMW race there for a while. Thankfully they're sticking with their North American program in IMSA. If you read between the lines, it's pretty clear that Marquardt prefers the way IMSA has run their program.

I'm kind of torn on the situation. One one hand I'll be sad to see BMW absent from LeMans (yet again), but on the other hand I understand where WEC is coming from. There is grumbling in IMSA GTLM about certain cars (*cough* Ford GT *cough*) being heavily BoP'd, because the M8 GTE is unable to increase their pace. It's not entirely fair to the field that the envelope is being pinned back by certain competitors. I mean, look at how close GT3 has come to GTE.

In BoP'd series, there's always going to be a back-of-the-class. What sucks is that BMW was already there with the M6 GTLM, and when they introduced the M8 GTE, things didn't get much better. Part of me wants to see BMW step it up and field a GTE car based on the i8. Everyone is quick to point out that the i8 is a hybrid, that it'd be expensive, and a litany of other reasons. But Porsche managed to figure it out a car with the engine in the wrong place and Acura races the NSX sans-hybrid. Why can't BMW find a way to field a competitive mid-engine race car that can more than meet the minimum requirements? I know they can; it's frustrating that they won't.

BMW has confirmed rumors that it will leave the FIA World Endurance Championship, announcing on Wednesday that next month’s 24 Hours of Le Mans will be the end of its GTE program in the series.

It comes as part of a commitment for BMW M Motorsport and BMW i Motorsport to have “a sharper focus” moving forward.

BMW made its WEC debut at the start of the 2018-19 ‘Super Season’, and has run a pair of M8 GTEs throughout, albeit with less success than in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

The Munich-based brand heads to Le Mans at the bottom of the GTE manufacturers’ championship, and its best results after seven races in the GTE-Pro class have been a pair of second-place finishes.

“We will not compete in WEC going forward,” said BMW Motorsport director Jens Marquardt.

“Therefore, the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June will be another highlight for us in drawing to a close – just like in 2018, when we celebrated the successful world premiere of the BMW 8 Series Coupe there.

“But in light of us sharpening our focus as part of our strategy for the future, continuing our WEC involvement in the coming years does not fit with our direction.

“We would like to thank BMW Team MTEK for its dedication over recent years and we wish WEC all the best and hope that it makes good progress.”

It marks the second GTE-Pro manufacturer to not return to the WEC, following the conclusion of Ford’s four-year factory run.

BMW’s commitment for a second season in WEC has been uncertain for a while, with paddock rumors suggesting an exit could be on the cards for the past few months.

MTEK team principal Ernest Knoors told Sportscar365 at the Six Hours of Spa-Francorchamps that the program’s future was “in the hands of BMW.”

BMW will continue to run its M8 GTE in the WeatherTech Championship, where BMW Team RLL has had more success, including a class win at the Rolex 24 at Daytona earlier this year.

“The global presence of BMW M Motorsport is safeguarded by customer racing and the DTM in Asia and Europe, as well as the IMSA series in North America, even without competing in a world championship,” explained Marquardt.

“The IMSA series plays a central role for us in North America and is developing well.

“The USA is the most important market for BMW M cars, so it is very fitting to build a direct bridge to our production models there with the BMW M8 GTE.”

Knoors says MTEK will look at other opportunities after Le Mans, and isn’t ruling out a return to WEC in another capacity.

“Of course, we have to respect the decision by BMW and we are grateful for the opportunities we have been given in the past years,” he said.

“At the same time, I have to say that we would have liked to continue as a team. We feel at home in the WEC pitlane and have acquired a lot of experience that we would like to put to good use.

“We will actively look for options for other projects. My ambition for this team is to be involved in competition at the highest level in motorsport.

“The WEC would be the most logical option as that is where we have the most recent experience, but of course, we also still know our way in the DTM and are also seriously looking at other opportunities.”

DTM, GT Commitment Remains Strong

BMW has reaffirmed its commitment to DTM and its customer GT racing programs, which will soon be supported by a new GT3 car.

“With the introduction of the new Class 1 regulation, the new turbo engine, a new manufacturer and important steps towards internationalisation, the DTM has embarked on a promising journey,” added Marquardt.

“Now it is important to keep going. We believe in the series and will fully support the DTM in further expanding its international presence.

“The BMW M4 GT4 has proved to be a real winner since its debut in the 2018 season and the BMW M6 GT3 continues to celebrate regular victories all over the world.

“A successor for our successful GT3 model is already in the works.

“This means that works-supported starts in iconic international GT races such as at the Nordschleife, at Spa-Francorchamps or in Macau will still be possible.”

Marquardt revealed to Sportscar365 in February that the manufacturer is planning to launch the successor to the Spa 24 Hours-winning BMW M6 GT3 in 2022.
His: 2013 ///M3 - Interlagos Blue Black M-DCT
Hers: 2013 X3 28i - N20 Mineral Silver / Sand Beige / Premium, Tech
Past: 2010 135i - TiAg Coral Red 6MT ///M-Sport