Mixed emotions for BMW M Motorsport after its return to the 24 Hours of Le Mans (FRA). The pair of BMW M8 GTEs were able to match the pace of the GTE Pro front-runners over the course of the 86th edition of the endurance classic, with both running in the top-three for long stretches of the race. While car #82 – driven by Augusto Farfus (BRA), Alexander Sims (GBR) and António Félix da Costa (POR) – had to retire from ninth following an accident in the early hours on Sunday, the #81 BMW M8 GTE made it to the finish after 332 laps. Martin Tomczyk (GER), Nick Catsburg (NED) and Philipp Eng (AUT) finished 12th.
Following strong race starts, both driver-trios lost ground on the 13.626-kilometre track due to damper failures, which caused additional pit stops for repairs. The race was then ended for car #82 after an accident on Sunday at about 6:30 hrs. Shortly after that, the radiator of the sister car had to be changed after being hit by debris on the track. 12th place was the highest possible position after the extended stops. The #92 Porsche secured victory at the “Circuit de la Sarthe”.
The Le Mans 24 Hours was the second round of the 2018/2019 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC). The season will resume on 19th August with the 6 Hours of Silverstone (GBR).
Reactions to the 24 Hours of Le Mans:
Jens Marquardt (BMW Motorsport Director):
“Our return to the 24 Hours of Le Mans turned out to be an emotional rollercoaster. First, it was great to see that were able to battle it out at the very front of the fiercely-fought GTE Pro class in terms of pace. Our drivers were involved in plenty of gripping duels with the competition and were even running in second place for some of the race. The BMW M8 GTE left a really strong impression. A podium seemed to be in reach but, unfortunately, technical issues and an accident cost us the chance to be rewarded for all the hard work in the build-up to this event. However, the positives outweigh the negatives: The fans were treated with action galore in the GTE Pro class. We were able to prove the full potential of our new car. In addition, we experienced the world premiere of the all-new BMW 8 Series Coupe on this unique stage. That’s another reason why this event will remain a good memory and give extra motivation to come back here even stronger for the Super Season finale in 2019. A big thank you and a lot of respect to everyone involved in this exciting BMW project with a lot of passion.”
Ernest Knoors (Team Principal, BMW Team MTEK):
“We are at the end of three weeks and 24 hours of highs and lows. The first few hours of the race were fantastic. Just to get through it and survive and then to be competitive was very good reward for our team and drivers for two years of hard work. But, then Le Mans happens and it’s tough. We can be very proud of what we achieved.”
Martin Tomczyk (#81 BMW M8 GTE):
“The BMW M8 GTE was very good here at Le Mans. We had the pace to fight for the top positions. The Porsches were really quick but we were able to match their pace for a long time. Unfortunately, we then had the damper problems on both cars that proved to be a decisive setback. It’s a big shame that we weren’t rewarded for the hard work over the past months.”
Nick Catsburg (#81 BMW M8 GTE):
“Positive was the great pace of the BMW M8 GTE. Also the team made some very good calls in terms of set-up. On the other-hand you have to drive the cars very hard here in Le Mans over a long period of time. Sometimes something breaks, and unfortunately that happened to both of our cars. That’s a shame but it’s also a part of racing. The whole week was a great experience for me.”
Philipp Eng (#81 BMW M8 GTE):
“This whole week in Le Mans was an amazing experience. In the garage I had goosebumps several times watching how close the team stood together and how much effort every single person put into this event. On track we were fighting for P2. Then being stopped by a damper is tough, of course. This experience will only make us stronger.”
Alexander Sims (#82 BMW M8 GTE):
“The spin was totally unexpected. I didn’t feel anything before I spun. I don’t know if there were fluids on the track, as other cars went off there as well. It is such a shame for everybody in the team who have worked so hard. The pace of the car was definitely good.”
António Félix da Costa (#82 BMW M8 GTE):
“We showed that our car has the pace to fight for podiums and wins. This was only the second 24-hour race for the BMW M8 GTE and the second WEC race for BMW Team MTEK – we are still learning with the new car. In this respect we made the most out of this race. For me as a driver it was also a big lesson. I was a bit nervous in my first stint, but the following double stint was just fun. We were fast, I overtook a lot of cars. Then we were unfortunately hit from the damper issues and the accident. We will come back stronger.”
Augusto Farfus (#82 BMW M8 GTE):
“It was great to be back in Le Mans – and I felt honoured to be part of this programme and to race here once again. As in 2011 I took the start, over the course of the race we showed a good pace. Despite our lack of experience here in Le Mans we were right in the mix. We lost ground due to the damper failure, then we had to retire after the accident. But still: We have shown that we are a true team. This gives us a big motivation boost, and we will come back next year to do better.”