You thought the Ford GT returning to Le Mans was big news? There’s a rumor this week via Autocar that put BMW back on the 2018 LeMans grid with a hydrogen powered prototype.
BMW has invested in Hydrogen before, going so far as to build a fleet of E63 7 series for road use almost 10 years ago. According to Autocar there are also tentative plans for a production car tied to the race car and marketed under the BMWi banner. While Hydrogen development was frozen by BMW 5-6 years ago, its recent tie-up with Toyota has restarted the program thanks to much better economies of scale. BMW is rumored to have 5 Series GT prototypes on the street and working closely with Toyota as it prepares to launch the Mirai – its own Hydrogen powered vehicle.
It’s unclear what class the car would race in but rumors point to Le Mans adapting rules to fit the new tech and positioning against LMP1 cars that currently dominate the race. However that could also put BMW directly against its technical partner Toyota.
Interestingly BMW Motorsport boss Jens Marquardt appeared to give a nod to something experimental rather than just fielding a car that would compete with the likes of Audi and Porsche. That could mean BMW would aim for the experimental class.
Either way BMW is working on something and for BMW Motorsports fans it’s great news. The GTE and GT3 cars have been struggling over the past few years and while the new M6 should help things next year, BMW has been missing a pinnacle to its motorsports empire since shuttering its F1 program.