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BMW returning to Le Mans

By raccars Published

BMW i8

A new racing era for BMW but motorsport links continue to be 'a cornerstone’ of the business.

BMW has revealed its new world-wide motorsport strategy which will see the company make a return to the WEC. There will be a new BMW GT car, together with a planned partnership with the Formula E team of Michael Andretti.

The announcement comes after speculation circulated last year that the company was looking at a comeback in the World Endurance Championship (WEC) with a new hydrogen-powered car for 2018. Motorsport chief Jens Marquardt has welcomed the news from BMW, saying that its return to the Le Mans circuit was something to look forward to.

BMW set to familiarise itself with Formula E

The company’s participation in Formula E, meanwhile, is said to be aimed at allowing BMW to become more familiar with the innovative series and that it should provide valuable input to future involvement. The manufacturer is currently considering the possibility of entering a complete team in the fifth season, running from 2018 to 2019.

Klaus Frölich, who sits on BMW’s management board, said that the future will see a growing importance placed on electric mobility, and BMW, complete with its BMW i division producing the i33 and i8, has spent the last ten years establishing itself as a leader in the field. He went on to say that the partnership with the Andretti Formula E team will prompt a closer interaction involving both the production development and motor racing aspects of the business, leading to benefits in both areas.

BMW has also confirmed that it will continue racing in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and the Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters (DTM). The company’s Mini brand is also set to compete in the famous Dakar Rally as a part of Sven Quandt’s X-raid team.

BMW and motorsport are 'intrinsically linked'

Frölich said that BMW and motorsport are famously ‘intrinsically linked’ and that motorsport would continue to be a cornerstone for the company in the future. He said that the firm intended to go head-to-head in a bid to take on global competitors in relation to both its customer racing and works commitments.

BMW has not been a competitor in the WEC since it sent out its M3 GT2 in 2011. The company retired from the Formula 1 circuits even earlier, back in 2009.

Mark Webber, of Porsche, said that his firm, which holds the current WEC title, is looking forward to BMW’s involvement in the future. He called it 'great news’, adding that BMW is renowned as a sensational manufacturer. He said that the more quality manufacturers that the WEC could attract, the better it would be, adding that the GTE class is already in great shape.

The background on the WEC

The FIA World Endurance Championship is organised by the ACO (Automobile Club de l'Ouest). It replaced the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup and became the first world championship-status endurance series since the World Sportscar Championship ended in 1992.

The series sees multiple classes of vehicles competing in endurance races. Production-class grand tourers compete against each other in the series’ LM GTE categories, whilst the Le Mans Prototype races are aimed at sports prototypes.

The World Endurance Championship features nine races around the world and includes the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans race. All of the races in the series last a minimum of six hours and drivers and cars are divided into four categories. The GTE category includes the GTE Am for amateur drivers and the GTE pro group, whilst the Prototype competitors race in either the LMP1 or LMP2 categories.

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