Wednesday 13 September 2017

FIA WEC: BMW presents its new challenger for the FIA WEC and Le Mans: the M8 GTE

At the IAA, the International Motor Show in Frankfurt, BMW has unveiled its new challenger for the FIA World Endurance Championship, the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the IMSA WeatherTech Championship: the all new BMW M8 GTE. BMW joins Aston Martin, Ferrari, Ford and Porsche in the highly competitive GTE class and the battle for the world championship.

The BMW M8 GTE has had a successful roll-out on the 1st of July at the BMW Dingolfing plant where the production model of the new BMW 8 series will be manufactured. The close link between production and motor racing is one of the cornerstones of the development of the BMW 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 in the development of the production model, which is running parallel to the motorsport project. The M8 GTE will race before the production car goes on sale, making his competition debut at the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona in January 2018. 

“The BMW M8 GTE is our new GT flagship and will go head to head with the strong opposition in this sector,” said BMW Motorsport Director Jens Marquardt. “For us, the presentation of the uncamouflaged car at the IAA is the next important step on the road to our first race outing, which we plan to be the 24 Hours of Daytona in 2018. The FIA WEC and the IMSA series in North America are a top competitive environment for our new challenger. With the BMW M8 GTE, we are bringing cutting-edge technology to the top international class of GT racing, whilst at the same time tying in with our tradition at Le Mans. The development of the BMW M8 GTE is on schedule, and we can hardly wait to see the car challenging for victories in 2018.”

Long history of BMW Motorsport in Le Mans.

BMW's history at the iconic 24 Hours of Le Mans goes back to 1939, when a BMW 328 claimed class victory. Since 1972 BMW has regularly returned to Le Mans until 2011 when they raced the last time in the 24 Hours with the M3 GT2. BMW also has a tradition of racing with art cars at Le Mans, starting with Alexander Calder's BMW 3.0 CLS and other iconic cars painted and/or decorated by the likes of Roy Liechtenstein (1977), Andy Warhol (1979), and most recently Jeff Koons in 2010.  There's no word yet about a new art car with the M8, but expext one.  If not this year, it will be one of the coming years. 

BMW Motorsport’s greatest moment in Le Mans came in 1999, when Yannick Dalmas, Joachim Winkelhock and Pierluigi Martini took overall victory in the BMW V12 LMR. The McLaren F1 GTR, powered by a BMW engine, had previously triumphed at the “Circuit de la Sarthe” in 1995.

Let's take a look at the technical side of the BMW M8 GTE:

A new degree of efficiency.
The V8 engine with BMW TwinPower Turbo Technology, which is restricted by regulations to a capacity of 4.0 litres, has a nominal base output of more than 500 hp, depending on the classification. The cylinder block and cylinder head are taken from the production engine and are produced in the light alloy foundry at the BMW Group plant in Landshut (GER). The focus of the development work is on achieving the greatest possible efficiency and maximum durability. The powerful production engine provides the perfect basis. The power transmission in the BMW M8 GTE takes place via a sequential, six-speed racing gearbox.

Artificial intelligence gives engineers greater freedom.
“Virtual development” plays a central role in the development of the BMW M8 GTE. For example, the traction control is being developed with the assistance of an artificial intelligence system. Topology optimisation with 3D printing gives the engineers far greater freedom in their search for innovative and creative solutions for the design of the car. Rapid prototyping also allows them to take delivery of a new part, as a usable prototype, just 24 hours after the virtual development.

Motor racing and production go hand in hand – design similarities.
Racing and production engineers closely worked together within the framework of the BMW M8 GTE project. For instance, consistent lightweight design also plays a crucial role in the development of the new GT sports car. A significant weight reduction is achieved through the extensive use of ultra-light CFRP components. At a length of 4,980 mm and a width of 2,046 mm, the car weighs just 1,220 kilograms. The design of the BMW M8 GTE also reflects the close relationship to the BMW 8 Series and the BMW M8. This is particularly apparent in the same roof line and the design of the front and rear lights.

Peak performance in aerodynamics development.
Work on the aerodynamics of a new race car is as time-consuming as it is indispensable. As such, it is all the more important for the BMW engineers to be able to work on the chassis of the BMW M8 GTE with maximum efficiency from the outset. A new algorithm allows a significant increase in CFD calculations, thus making it possible to use greater computing power to clearly increase the number of possible simulations, before progressing to the wind tunnel. Here, BMW Motorsport uses synergies with production development and benefits from the perfect test conditions in the BMW Group Aero Lab. One of the results of the aero development is innovative aero rims, which will be presented as a concept at the IAA.

Latest 3D measurement technology in use.
The close interdependence between production and motorsport development continues in another two important areas: the same 3D measurement technology that was used on the BMW M4 DTM, which made its first race outing in 2017, is also used on the BMW M8 GTE. The ultra-modern measurement system from the BMW production development department provides the perfect quality control once the race car has been assembled. With such a complex car as the BMW M8 GTE, which is built completely by hand, it is essential that all the dimensions are correctly adhered to and implemented.

Kristof Vermeulen.