BMW confirms Le Mans return and Formula E role
2011 BMW M3 GT Intercontinental Le Mans Cup race car
Seven years after its withdrawal from Formula One and four years after returning to DTM, BMW has announced an overhaul of its motorsport program which will see the German automaker once again competing at the top level on the world stage.
The big news is that BMW will join the World Endurance Championship in 2018, competing in the GTE class for production-based cars. The class currently includes Ford Motor Company [NYSE:F] and its new GT as well as Aston Martin, Chevrolet, Ferrari [NYSE:RACE] and Porsche.
It means BMW will be returning to the 24 Hours of Le Mans, which it last competed at in 2011 when its M3 GT finished third in class. BMW also has an overall win at Le Mans under its belt too. The win was in 1999 with the V12 LMR (shown below).
BMW V12 LMR that won overall in the 1999 24 Hours of Le Mans
Further details, such as the basis of the new GTE car and the team responsible for the car, will be confirmed and announced over the coming months.
BMW has also formally announced a partnership with the Andretti Formula E team. The partnership is initially set to run for two seasons. It incorporates, for example, cooperation at engineer level and the mutual use of resources. Depending on the general development of the Formula E Championship, BMW envisages having a factory team competing by the 2018/2019. By then, the electric car series will already have the brands Audi, DS, Faraday Future, Jaguar, Mahindra, NextEV, Renault and Venturi all competing.
In addition to these new developments, BMW intends to continue its existing motorsport programs. This includes competing in DTM, the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and the Dakar rally (with Mini and Germany’s X-Raid). BMW will also continuing its customer racing program by offering its M6 GT3, soon-to-be-launched M4 GT4 and M235i Racing race cars.