Racer.com has a great interview with BMW Motorsports boss Jens Marquardt that goes into not only the new M8 GTE but some background in the M6 GTE that it replaces. Here are a couple of excerpts:
“The M6 GTLM didn’t begin with the intention of running in the GTLM class,” says BMW Motorsport Director Jens Marquardt. “It was originally planned as only a GT3-spec car, but when some rules convergence initiatives didn’t work out in 2014, we were already too far up the path to turn back. So, I’m very grateful to IMSA that they were willing to work with us to make the changes we had to do to the M6 to allow it to race.”
The M8 GTE, on the other hand, has been fully conceived from a clean sheet, with the specific objective of endurance racing in the top GT class in both the U.S. and internationally.
“The M8 is a purpose-built GTE car,” continues Marquardt (below). “Whereas the M6 GTLM was a 95 percent production-based drivetrain, the M8 GTE is more like 30 percent to 40 percent production-based, and the rest is bespoke motorsport.”
Marquardt credits his team at BMW Motorsport in Munich who collectively work on all their programs from IMSA to DTM, and now WEC and Formula E, for taking the collective experience gained from all the series and focusing it forward on the 2018 programs. Because of the effort put it in, Marquardt insists that BMW will arrive at the Rolex 24 At Daytona with victory as it only target. This is despite being the only all-new car on the GTLM grid.
Jens goes on to put some distance between Ford and Porsche’s approach and what BMW has done with the M8:
The approach that BMW has taken with the M8 GTE has in part come as a response to the elevated technology and purpose-built approach that a few of its GTE/LM competitors have taken to their cars. Indeed, some say that the Ford’s GT and Porsche’s 911 RSR have pushed the rules as far as possible, and are closer to a prototype in GT clothing. To this point, Marquardt believes that while the M8 GTE is a bespoke racecar, it is still very close in spirit to the eventual production version, and thus a purer GT car.
“The chassis for the M8 road version is built in the same line as the GTE cars, and the engine location and transaxle concept are exactly the same in both cars,” says Marquardt.
“Surely, we will exceed the production volumes that are required for homologation, and to the best of my knowledge neither Ford [with the GT] or Porsche [with a mid-engine 911] have as of yet.
“Ford has done a great job of starting with a pure racecar and then finding a way to build the minimum number needed for a road car. We have chosen to do the opposite, because the concept for the M8 as a road car came first.”
The M8 GTE is smaller, lower and of shorter wheelbase than the outgoing M6 GTLM, but it is still a large car by racing standards. So Marquardt expects that the flowing, longer tracks as found across the WEC as well as Daytona, Sebring and the summer swing of traditional natural terrain road-courses that IMSA will compete on are most suited to the M8 GTE’s characteristics. If the BoP is managed correctly, this GTLM season is serving up to be one of the most anticipated yet.
Read the entire interview at Racer.