Yes, BMW will be back in Sarthe. This Tuesday, the German brand gave more details on its commitment to endurance, the day after the first laps of the BMW M Hybrid LMDh at the Varano circuit in Italy.
In doing so, the Motorsport branch has confirmed that the program will indeed be limited to the IMSA North American championship in 2023. But BMW has also indicated that it will participate in the World Endurance Championship (WEC) the following season… and therefore in the 24 Hours of Le Mans 2024joining Toyota, Glickenhaus, Alpine, Peugeot, Ferrari or Porsche in the Hypercar category.
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“Given the tight schedule for this LMDh project, our plan has always been to focus on a single discipline for the first season in 2023, explained Andreas Roos, boss of BMW Motorsport. IMSA suits us perfectly for this. But our medium-term objective has always been to use the major platform offered by the WEC and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. We are working hard on this goal alongside our North American program.”
For now, BMW does not reveal who could operate its M Hybrid in Europe. In recent weeks, the Belgian team WRT – winner of the LMP2 World Cup – has been regularly cited. In America, the stable Rahal Letterman Lanigan manages Motorsport’s efforts.
A first secret test
This Monday, American Connor De Phillippi and South African Sheldon van der Linde took turns at the wheel of the prototype designed around a spine (hull, steering, etc.) made by the Italian specialist Dallara. The “in-house” engine is a 4-litre twin-turbo V8, taken from a block used a few years ago in the DTM. It will work in conjunction with the Williams/X-Trac hybrid system common to all manufacturers who have chosen the LMDh technical route.
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The two men will continue their tests this week at the Riccardo Paletti racetrack, located near the Dallara headquarters. This has been the subject of measures to keep prying eyes away.