Green light for the new spearhead: BMW M8 GTE makes race debut at the “Rolex 24” in Daytona.

Munich. This is the moment BMW Motorsport has been waiting
for: after months of intensive development, the new BMW M8 GTE will
make its race debut this weekend. The new top model for
international GT racing will take to the track at the legendary
24-hour race in Daytona (USA), the opener of the 2018 IMSA
WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. The 56th edition of
the endurance classic takes place on 27th/28th January.


The honour of contesting the first race with the BMW M8 GTE goes to
BMW Team RLL. Team principal Bobby Rahal’s (USA) crew enters their
tenth season with BMW and is set to compete in the IMSA series with
two BMW M8 GTE this year.


The BMW M8 GTE is the result of BMW’s latest thinking in GT car
development and constructed in order to be eligible to compete at Le
Mans – something BMW will do this year for the first time since 2011.
Where the BMW Z4 GTLM and BMW M6 GTLM raced in the four previous IMSA
seasons were derived from GT3 versions of these cars, the BMW M8 GTE
was designed and built specifically as a GTE specification racing car
in conjunction with its upcoming BMW 8 Series road car counterpart,
making for the minimum number of compromises and maximum performance.

The twice-around-the-clock classic will not only see the debut of a
new BMW racing car, but it will also see the most substantive change
to the BMW Team RLL driver line-up in a decade. With Bill Auberlen
(USA) transitioning to a new role as a BMW of North America Brand
Ambassador supporting marketing and PR activities, the experienced
veteran of 400 races with BMW has moved away from a full-time seat and
will drive in a support role at the “Rolex 24”. Auberlen will share
the No. 25 BMW M8 GTE at Daytona with season-long drivers Alexander
Sims (GBR) and Connor De Phillippi (USA). Philipp Eng (AUT) will also
drive the No. 25 machine. The No. 24 BMW M8 GTE will have John Edwards
(USA) and Jesse Krohn (FIN) as its drivers for the season. Nick
Catsburg (NED) and Augusto Farfus (BRA) will support at Daytona.

Led by Bobby Rahal, BMW Team RLL finished the 2017 IMSA season with
four victories including consecutive wins in Laguna Seca and at the
Petit Le Mans to close the BMW M6 GTLM programme second in GTLM
Manufacturer, Team and Driver standings. Since 2009, the team has
totalled 17 GT class wins among 68 total podium finishes campaigning

Bobby Rahal (Team Principal BMW Team RLL):
“The BMW
M8 GTE is the only entirely new car in the GTLM field this year and we
believe it has a great deal of potential. While we fought a number of
new car gremlins at the Roar, I think everyone is generally quite
happy. Certainly we will have a busy time back at the shop before the
‘Rolex 24’, but that is nothing unexpected. 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.”


Connor De Phillippi (No. 25 BMW M8 GTE): “This will
be my first race with BMW and I’m eager to add what I can to a team
that ended the 2017 season very successfully.”


Alexander Sims (No. 25 BMW M8 GTE): “The BMW M8 GTE
is a very nice car to drive. I think BMW has done a great job building
on the strengths of the M6 while also addressing its weaknesses.”

Bill Auberlen (No. 25 BMW M8 GTE): “I am cautiously
optimistic having driven quite a few new BMW racing cars over the
years. The BMW M8 GTE checks all the right boxes for me and I’m
excited to share in its debut race.”


Philipp Eng (No. 25 BMW M8 GTE): “I have a very
strong connection to the BMW M8 GTE having been involved with the
programme since the first day. I hope our first race will be a
successful one.”

John Edwards (No. 24 BMW M8 GTE): “This year will be
quite an exciting one. I’m excited to share the No. 24 car with Jesse
(Krohn) for the entire season along with Augusto (Farfus) and Nicky
(Catsburg) at Daytona.”

Jesse Krohn (No. 24 BMW M8 GTE): “We still have a
great deal to learn. Our car ran limited laps at the Roar because of a
number of teething issues, but we have a very positive outlook for the
‘Rolex 24’.”


Nick Catsburg (No. 24 BMW M8 GTE): “A brand new car
is never an easy thing, but I have high expectations because the laps
that I did drive at the Roar made me feel the car certainly has potential.”

Augusto Farfus (No. 24 BMW M8 GTE): “The car has
shown reasonable pace so far and we are confident and motivated. To
finish high in the order in our debut race would be a great reward for
all the work everyone has contributed to the BMW M8 GTE program so far.”

Original Press Release