M8 GTE: Track-going BMW 8-series completes Daytona 24

Published: 29 January 2018

► BMW M8 GTE racer
► Finished 7th in class
► BoP issues still need to be addressed

The BMW 8-series hasn’t been revealed yet, but the track-ready M8 GTE version of the car has already completed its first race. Last weekend saw the race-going version of the 8-series take part in the Daytona 24 race – but it wasn’t the start BMW wanted.

The Balance of Performance is the system designed to equalise the various types of cars, powertrains and more in the IMSA series, and uses a mixture of ballast and turbo-restrictions to level the playing field. But it appears officials gave the M8 GTE too strong a handicap.

Both Rahal-run M8 GTEs qualified at the back of the grid, with the fastest still 1.2 seconds behind the class pole sitter In the race, the highest-placed GTE finished 7th in its class after 773 laps and 19th overall, but importantly, both cars were able to finish a gruelling 24 hour race on their first time out.

What we know about the BMW 8-series

‘Our BMW M8 GTE successfully completed its baptism of fire here at Daytona,’ said BMW motorsport director Jens Marquardt. ‘To finish such a tough debut race with both cars after 24 hours without major technical problems is something we can be more than proud of. Everything has been said with regards to the reasons for the gap in performance compared to the competition. The car couldn’t show its true potential yet,’ he added.

‘That’s why BMW and IMSA will continue their productive and open talks and have agreed to find an appropriate BoP assessment for the upcoming events starting with Sebring, allowing the BMW M8 GTE to show its true performance for the benefit of the series, BMW and all of our fans.’

BMW M8 GTE overhead

BMW M8 GTE: specs

It’s powered by a 4.0-litre turbocharged V8. The V8 engine’s cylinder block and cylinder head are from the upcoming 8-series production car, and has more than 500bhp at its disposal as per race regulations. That shove is sent through a six-speed sequential ‘box.

What we know about the BMW 8-series

Lightweight design techniques and carbonfibre-reinforced plastic (CFRP) are used in both the production car and racer, while BMW points out that the headlights, rear lights and roofline are production-spec.

The M8 GTE’s first race will be under BMW Team RLL, led by team principal Bobby Rahal. ‘Compared with teams like Schnitzer who have been racing for BMW for multiple decades, we are the new guys, but the relationship is everything in motorsport. We are very proud to start our tenth year with BMW and especially proud to be the team that will debut the BMW M8 GTE.’

BMW M8 GTE night

BMW’s Motorsport head, Jens Marquardt, said: ‘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.’

Check out what we know so far about the BMW M8

By Jake Groves

CAR's deputy news editor, office Geordie, gamer, lover of hot hatches