After several months of speculation, BMW has confirmed that it will return to the top level of sportscar racing at Le Mans and in the World Endurance Championship from 2024, with its new LMDh car set to race in the Hypercar class.
The new car, revealed as the BMW M Hybrid V8 in June and first showcased in public at the Goodwood Festival of Speed presented by Mastercard, was only initially confirmed for competition in the US IMSA Sportscar Championship.
But now the prototype, which is based on a Dallara chassis and was seen on its first few laps at the Italian firm’s Varano de Melegari test track, will join the world circuit to compete for the biggest crowns in motorsport.
The BMW M Hybrid V8, or whatever name it ends up racing under, will be the first BMW sportscar to race in the top category on either side of the Atlantic since the V12 LMR in the late 1990s – a car which would go on to win the Le Mans 24 Hours.
“The decision to run the BMW M Hybrid V8 in the IMSA series from 2023, and the WEC from 2024, is a milestone for the project,” said Franciscus van Meel, CEO of BMW M GmbH.
“I sampled and marvelled at the extraordinary flair of the 24 Hours of Le Mans during my first term as CEO of BMW M so I am very excited to be challenging for overall victory as BMW M Motorsport again at this classic and in the whole World Endurance Championship for the first time for decades."
BMW also revealed that the car had not only rolled out at Varano de Melegari, but also spent the whole week there testing, with BMW M drivers Connor De Phillippi and Sheldon van de Linde at the wheel. The car will now move on to testing elsewhere in August before it is handed over the RLL, the team that will run BMW’s IMSA campaign.
“It’s been an honour and a pleasure to complete the first laps of the BMW M Hybrid V8”, said De Phillippi of his drive. “This was a historic day for BMW M Motorsport within the LMDh project.
“Step by step we went through all functions of the car and by the end of the day we were able to do some laps with nearly full power, which is a good result for a roll-out. A huge thank you to everybody working so hard for this project at BMW M Motorsport, BMW M Team RLL, BMW M Team RMG and Dallara.”
What BMW did not confirm is how many cars will race in the WEC, or who will be driving in either IMSA or the World Championship. With the car’s racing debut now around six months away, at Daytona in January, we can expect to hear more soon.