BMW’s GTP race car struts its stuff
Finally, we get a good look at the BMW M Hybrid V8, the company’s entry into the top class of the IMSA WeatherTech Sports Car Championship, which will battle similarly all-new prototypes from Cadillac, Porsche, and Audi, all debuting at the drop of the green flag at the Rolex 24 at Daytona on January 28.
The BMW is arguably the most distinctive of the four, with the big, traditional, twin-kidney grille up front, which will be lit by “a nano-active optical fiber trigged by a laser.” The car is painted traditional BMW red, white, and blue with black accents.
Power comes from a 4.0-liter, twin-turbo V-8 that pumps out about 640 horsepower, same as the Acura V-6 and the V-8s from Cadillac and Porsche. Most of the development work went into reliability, as IMSA will regulate the engines’ horsepower output. There’s also a mild-hybrid component common to every car, per the rule book.
The driver lineup was also announced at the Petersen Museum event: The four core drivers for the 2023 IMSA season are Philipp Eng, Augusto Farfus, Nick Yelloly, and Connor De Phillippi, the only American driver. Colton Herta, the IndyCar driver being discussed for a Formula 1 drive, will help out at Daytona in one of the two cars.
“Since the GTP project was announced, it has been a dream of mine to be part of the program. I know we are all eager to deliver championship results for BMW M Motorsport at the top level of IMSA competition,” said De Phillippi.
“The BMW M Hybrid V8 is a beautiful race car,” said Andreas Roos, head of BMW M Motorsport. “It is now our job to make it fast. We are working towards achieving this goal day by day and are confident that we will be ready in January when we really get down to business for the first time at Daytona.”
Also present at the introduction were the three owners of the Team RLL that will campaign the car: Indianapolis 500 winner Bobby Rahal, retired talk show host David Letterman (“Don’t let Andreas bullshit you,” Letterman said. “I pick the drivers!”), and construction magnate Patrick Lanigan.
“There is no doubt that we understand and appreciate the level of commitment and dedication it will take on the part of RLL to be successful in this new venture,” Rahal said. “BMW M Motorsport is providing us with a great car, great engine and great driver lineup, of which we are very pleased. We understand the scope of the challenge in front of us and look forward to meeting it head on.”
The current Daytona Prototype international cars, or DPis, run their final race on October 1 at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta’s Petit Le Mans, the last race of the IMSA season and the one that will decide the championships.
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