Just 598 days after the BMW Group board decision and 188 days after the roll-out, the new BMW M Hybrid V8 has completed its first endurance test at the 24 Hours of Daytona (USA). After a brief development period, the first BMW M Motorsport race car with a hybrid powertrain took on the great challenge of the classic endurance race – and both prototypes competing for BMW M Team RLL crossed the finish line. The #24 BMW M Hybrid V8 secured sixth place overall and in the GTP class. Having been forced to take a long break for repairs in the early part of the race, the #25 car finished ninth in the GTP category. Oliver Zipse, Chairman of the Board of Management of the BMW Group, visited Daytona as the car made its race debut.
The season-opener in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship at the Daytona International Speedway marked the start of a new era for prototype motor racing. It was the first time that hybrid-driven LMDh cars competed in the GTP class, meaning that the BMW M Hybrid V8 completed its baptism of fire under race conditions. Philipp Eng (AUT), Augusto Farfus (BRA), Marco Wittmann (GER) and Colton Herta (USA) gave a consistent performance in the #24 car. The quartet was within striking distance of a podium finish for some time before issues with the hybrid system resulted in a brake problem in the final quarter of the race that cost a substantial amount of time. Final driver Philipp Eng crossed the finish line in sixth place.
The #25 car had to be pushed to the pits to make an extended repair stop in the BMW M Team RLL garage after about an hour. A number of components had to be replaced after failure of the hybrid powertrain – a common component used by all manufacturers. That took around two and a half hours and meant that Connor De Phillippi (USA), Nick Yelloly (GBR), Sheldon van der Linde (RSA) and Colton Herta, who was racing in both cars, were forced to drive right at the back of the field. They still managed to finish the race, chalking up kilometres of testing that will prove valuable when considering the short preparation period and the remainder of the season ahead.
The Board of Management of the BMW Group gave the green light to the development of an LMDh car on 10th June 2021. Just about one year later, on 25th July 2022, the BMW M Hybrid V8 completed its roll-out in Varano de‘ Melegari (ITA). The development and testing stages of the complex hybrid car were correspondingly brief, making preparations for the race debut particularly challenging.
Turner Motorsport and Paul Miller Racing competing in the GTD class.
The GTP cars were joined at Daytona by three BMW M4 GT3s racing in the two GTD categories. In the GTD PRO class, Turner Motorsport competed with the #95 BMW M4 GT3. BMW M works drivers John Edwards (USA) and Bruno Spengler (CAN) were in sixth place with Bill Auberlen and Chandler Hull (both USA) forced to retire around two and half hours before the end due to problems with the steering. They were classified ninth. In the GTD class, BMW M works driver Maxime Martin (BEL), Bryan Sellers, Madison Snow and Corey Lewis (all USA) drove the #1 BMW M4 GT3 to eighth place for Paul Miller Racing. After enduring some technical problems, Turner Motorsport crossed the line in 17th position with the #96 BMW M4 GT3 and drivers Jens Klingmann (GER) – also a BMW M works driver, Robby Foley, Michael Dinan and Patrick Gallagher (all USA).
Reactions to the race at Daytona:
Franciscus van Meel (CEO BMW M GmbH): “The race weekend at Daytona was unbelievably intense for everyone involved. My congratulations and thanks are due to all team members at BMW M Motorsport and the BMW M Team RLL for their tireless work and the impressive motivation that they display in the challenging project. Unfortunately, the team struggled with some issues during the race, which can happen with a new car like this. However, crossing the finish line with both BMW M Hybrid V8s is a crucial first step on the way to what will hopefully be a successful future. The fact that the Chairman of the Board of Management visited Daytona shows just what great support the future-oriented LMDh programme enjoys within the entire BMW Group. Overall, there were a host of highlights for BMW M at the IMSA season-opener, such as the global premiere for the BMW M3 CS, the BMW M Endurance Challenge and the two BMW M Safety Cars. The Daytona weekend has definitely given us an appetite for more of the same.”
Andreas Roos (Head of BMW M Motorsport): “As expected, the 24 Hours of Daytona proved to be a great challenge but provided valuable experience. Of course, we would have liked better results. It was looking good for the #24 car for a long period. We focussed on retaining concentration, driving consistently and making no mistakes. The drivers, the BMW M Motorsport engineers and BMW M Team RLL managed to do that. Unfortunately, it was primarily the common components of the hybrid system that caused us problems which we have to analyse together – especially with the #25 car, as we fell back a long way after having to replace numerous components early in the race. It is a real shame that our hard work over the past weeks and months was not rewarded with a better result. Nonetheless, I am proud and grateful that we managed to make extensive progress with the project in such a short space of time, and crossed the finish line with both BMW M Hybrid V8s. Our ambition is to record wins and podium finishes. We are extremely motivated to draw the right conclusions from this race and come back even stronger at Sebring. Congratulations to the Acura team on the first win of the new GTP era. Sadly, our teams also endured some bad luck with the BMW M4 GT3 in the GTD classes. Due to the classification, they had a tough job from the start and also suffered some technical problems. However, we will analyse these in detail and do it better next time.”
Bobby Rahal (BMW M Team RLL team principal): “This wasn’t a win – but it almost feels like a win. It has been an extremely intense year, particularly since October with testing. I have to say that the testing was not easy, but after the ROAR I got confident as there was reliability there as well as performance. I felt pretty good. A lot can happen in 24 hours. Everybody kept at it, it’s a shame we had the issues with the #25 car early in the race. It ran really strong for the rest of the race. There were little issues, but we weren’t the only ones. Overall this was a good start for us and now we’ll work on this to be better at Sebring.”
Philipp Eng (#24 BMW M Hybrid V8, 6th place): “It was an honour for me to do qualifying, the start and the final stint here at Daytona. It was very important for the spirit of the team that we made it to the chequered flag. We only had a small problem on our car. Apart from that there was not a single contact with other cars, the team delivered a flawless job. The basis of the car is really great. Now we need to keep working on the set-up. Overall it was a mega weekend. It’s great to be a part of this project.”
Connor De Phillippi (#25 BMW M Hybrid V8, 9th place): “It was the first 24-hour race for our GTP car. It was by far the most hours we have run in a consecutive period so that’s a huge positive. Big thank you to the RLL guys and to BMW M for all the hard work. Going into the weekend we knew it was going to be difficult. We had to stay realistic. That’s what we did, and we just focussed on our job. Now we have a huge database to work with. We will try to develop over the next month and a half in order to more competitive at Sebring. It was our first shot at the top level of sports car racing. We still had had a lot of fun at Daytona. This is a big positive for me. Now we have to convert this into podiums and wins.”
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