BMW announces entry into LMDh class from 2023 – to fight Audi, Porsche and other big names
The 2023 LMDh class is shaping up to be a big one, with BMW getting back in on the action with its own racer, but only in the USA
It looks like the FIA might have cracked it with its LMDh class, with another big-budget manufacturer announcing its intention to compete in the top-level of endurance racing. This time it's BMW’s M division, which confirmed it’ll be ready to race from 2023, but only in the American IMSA series, rather than the global circuit. This adds yet one more team to the LMDh (Le Mans Daytona hybrid) roster, joining Audi, Porsche and Acura, but it won't sit alongside the LMH (Le Mans Hypercar) entries from Peugeot, Ferrari, Toyota and Alpine in European races.
To comply with the regulations for LMDh, BMW’s new racer will be based on a control chassis from Dallara, Ligier, Multimatic or Oreca and powered by its own combustion engine with a controlled peak power, but no limits on engine size or type. This is then supplemented by a control hybrid system from Bosch and battery pack from Williams Advanced Engineering, packaged onto the front axle.
As with all LMDh racers, combined peak power from both the combustion engine and hybrid system is capped at 670bhp, with the combustion engine able to make this figure on its own but mapped to only hit such a peak when the hybrid’s batteries are depleted.
BMW is currently keeping its cards close to its chest, with no indication of what combustion engine it will utilise – whether one that already exists, or one in development – but given the fundamental differences already being seen throughout the class, even between the two Volkswagen Group entries, variety might well be the LMDh class’s biggest asset.
BMW’s first and only Le Mans triumph came back in 1999, with the V12 LMR co-developed with Williams, the brand’s F1 technical partner at the time. Powered by a version of the S70 V12 engine featured in both the McLaren F1 road car and Le Mans-winning F1 GTR racer, BMW’s foray into endurance racing was a fleeting but ultimately a highly successful enterprise, something it’s no doubt hoping to emulate, which makes it even more of a shame to know it'll only compete in the USA.
Still, with no fewer than eight entries from the big brands across the LMDh and LMH classes, plus smaller privateer teams too, we’re set to see the widest and most varied field in endurance racing for a generation.