BMW Motorsport chose to reveal its new M8 GTE World Endurance Championship machine at the Frankfurt motor show and while the uncamouflaged racer obviously doesn’t give us the full picture of how the production M8 will look it does give us some pointers. Those hugely blistered arches, monster rear wing and massive carbon rear diffuser won’t be seen on the production M8 but the roof line of the race car is as per the road car while its front and rear lights are also production ready components.
The M8 GTE will be powered by a 4-litre version of BMW’s TwinPower turbo V8 and will have an output of ‘more than 500bhp’ depending on the classification of the race series in which its entered. The engine is closely related to the production car with BMW Motorsport saying the cylinder head and block are both from the road car and are produced in BMW’s light alloy foundry at Landshut. The GTE’s transmission will be a six-speed sequential unit.
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The M8 GTE is 4980mm long and 2046mm wide making it just 36mm longer than the M6 GT3 race car which BMW is currently campaigning and identical in width. The use of lightweight materials has pared some weight from the M8 GTE and at 1220kg it’s 80kg lighter than the claimed weight of the M6 GT3.
The engineers behind the M8 GTE project have been using cutting edge technology to assist with the project, such as a traction control system that’s been developed with the assistance of an artificial intelligence system. Optimisation of components with 3D printing gives the engineers far greater freedom in their search for innovative and creative solutions for the design of the car while rapid prototyping has also allowed engineers to take delivery of a new parts, as a usable prototypes, just 24 hours after their virtual development.
BMW is keen to emphasise the close link between production and motor racing in the development of the M8 GTE. The knowledge gained from race outings with the new car in the FIA WEC and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship (IWSC) in North America will be directly incorporated into the development of the production M8, which is running in parallel to the motorsport project.
BMW Motorsport is planning the M8 GTE’s race debut to take place at the 24 Hours of Daytona in January 2018 before returning to Le Mans for the first time as a manufacturer since 2011.