Interview with Jens Marquardt on the development of the new BMW M8 GTE: “The special team spirit will definitely stay with us for a long time”.

Daytona. BMW Motorsport presented the new BMW M8 GTE in its
livery for the 2018 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in
Daytona (USA) on Wednesday. The running of two cars in the GT class
in the 24-hour race at the “Daytona International Speedway”
represents the race debut and the next milestone in “Mission8”.
Speaking in an interview, BMW Motorsport Director Jens Marquardt
looks back on the development of the BMW M8 GTE and underlines the
importance of team spirit in the development crew.

 

Mr Marquardt, the race debut of the new BMW M8 GTE is just
around the corner. Take us through the development of the car over
the past few months. How did it all begin?

Jens Marquardt: “The first race for the new BMW M8 GTE at Daytona
will be very special for every one of us at BMW Motorsport. The roots
of the GTE project lie in a combination of many aspects. At the start
of the programme, back in 2015, the goal was to expand our activities
in traditional motor racing – BMW M Motorsport – and to position
ourselves even more internationally. At the same time, the possible
return to Le Mans brought its very own fascination for our team.
However, the most important factor was that the production model, the
BMW 8 Series Coupé, was developed at the same time. We were given a
green light from the board to develop a thoroughbred GTE racing car,
parallel with the colleagues in production development. That is how it
all began. Now the BMW M8 GTE is ready for Daytona. For the first time
in BMW Motorsport history the race car will be in action before its
series counterpart.”

When you started to develop the BMW M8 GTE, there was not
actually a production model…

Marquardt: “Correct. Right from the word go, we worked with our
colleagues in production development to synchronise the individual
steps as closely as possible. It was a challenge. When we needed the
first chassis of the production car, there simply wasn’t one yet. We
were, however, able to work with special prototype chassis from
production development. We progressed step by step in that manner.
Furthermore, at the start of our development, there were still minor
changes to the production model. To a certain degree, we were dealing
with a moving target.”

How was the cooperation with colleagues in production?

Marquardt: “Very close and efficient. The developers on the
production side obviously had their own specific challenges to
overcome. Despite that, they were always open to the GTE project, and
always willing to help. That was real teamwork. We synchronised the
focus of our development with the core areas of the production model.
The question was: what should the racing car emanate and embody? The
core values of the BMW 8 Series Coupé should also be the strength of
the BMW M8 GTE.”

Can you give us any examples of these development focal points?

Marquardt: “Let’s take the design aspects. We are obliged to adopt
the same external contour and roof line as the production model.
However, it was also important to incorporate elements such as the
headlamps, the Carbon Core and the centre console in the race car,
based on the BMW 8 Series Coupé. The topic of carbon fibre played a
major role.”

Does the joint development mean that the BMW M8 GTE is more
similar to its production counterpart than any other BMW race car?

Marquardt: “When you look at the regulations, the engine in the BMW
M6 GT3 is extremely close to that in the production model. However, we
were able to make more substantial changes to the chassis. In the case
of the BMW M8 GTE, the chassis is closer to the production model, but
the engine had to be modified significantly. The most important thing
is that we based the BMW M6 GT3 on an existing car. That was different
this time. Because the race car will be in action before the
production car, we worked intensively with the design department from
a very early point to ensure that were on the same page when it came
to the design. That worked very well.”

The GTE class is fiercely competitive, both in the IMSA and
the FIA WEC. How big was the challenge, with regard to performance?

Marquardt: “We are certainly up against some tough competition with
the BMW M8 GTE, that much is clear. The BMW M6 GTLM, which itself was
derived from the GT3 car, served as a reference. But this time we were
able to concentrate fully on the demands of the GTE class. As such,
many parts have been specifically designed for this car to explicitly
align areas such as weight, centre of gravity and aerodynamics with
the eventual area of application. We have actually exceeded our own
requirements when it comes to the engine and aerodynamics. We have
also made big strides with other components, such as the chassis and
traction control. This is confirmed by the feedback from the drivers.
We will see how this is reflected in the results over the course of
the year. The Balance of Performance obviously also plays a big role,
however the BMW M8 GTE certainly has great potential.”

Were there specific key moments in the development?

Marquardt: “The special team spirit in the development team will
definitely stay with us for a long time. The engineers consistently
motivated each other and put a lot of heart and soul into this
project. The rollout in Dingolfing was the first highlight. The second
step, in which the final chassis and aerodynamics were added to the
car, was of similar importance. It was an extremely tight schedule,
which led straight into a 24-hour test. We achieved all that as a team
with a remarkable group dynamic. I am proud of everyone at BMW Motorsport.”

To what extent does the development work continue after the
first race in Daytona?

Marquardt: “After the car has been homologated, there are some areas
in which we can, and may, make changes. We can still do some work on
the software, in particular. We will also continue to work on aligning
the BMW M8 GTE with all its systems, and will integrate all the
reference values we have acquired. First of all, however, we are
looking forward to the maiden race in Daytona.”

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