24h Le Mans
Food for thought for BMW on its 24 Hours of Le Mans return
BMW is making its official comeback to the 24 Hours of Le Mans seven years after its last appearance. The Bavarian manufacturer is counting on its new machine – the M8 GTE – to shine in the LMGTE Pro class. Let’s take a look back at its first laps of the Le Mans circuit on Test Day.
Compared with the impressive armadas of Porsche and Ford, who are each fielding four cars, the BMW team entry – represented by Ernest Knoors’ MTEK structure – is a somewhat more modest affair. Like Corvette and Aston Martin Racing, BMW is running two GTs. However, the level of preparation, the resources implemented and the drivers selected are top notch. The setup has a strong “DTM” (Deutsche Tourenwagen Meisterschaft) flavour too as, apart from the operating team who already partners BMW in the German touring championship, four of the six drivers have DTM experience. If that’s an advantage or drawback, only time will tell.
The two cars put in quite different Test Day performances on Sunday 3 June. Held up by work on the brakes at the start of the session, the #82 completed 69 laps without breaking the 3:55 barrier. Antonio Felix Da Costa even left the track in the Porsche Curves just after 15:00. The #81 sister car spent more time out on the asphalt, completing the quickest of its 83 laps in 3:53.946, 1.4 seconds down on the class benchmark set by the #91 Porsche. The distance covered was in fact the longest of the entire LMGTE Pro field, two laps more than the #52 Ferrari 488 GTE EVO (AF Corse). All-in-all it was a satisfying day for Martin Tomczyk, Nicky Catsburg and Philipp Eng… and also for the #82 crew who probably bore the brunt of the teething problems encountered by the M8 GTE on its first encounter with the Circuit des 24 Heures du Mans.
Photo: LE MANS (SARTHE, FRANCE), CIRCUIT DES 24 HEURES. BMW returned to the Le Mans track for 24 Hours of Le Mans Test Day on 3 June. The German manufacturer is running two M8 GTEs in a quality LMGTE Pro field comprising Ferrari, Porsche, Aston Martin, Corvette and Ford.