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Rahal to Continue with BMW; Set for M8 GTE Debut

BMW Team RLL to continue operation of BMW’s factory IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship program…

Photo: BMW

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing will continue operating BMW’s factory program in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, in the debut of the German manufacturer’s new BMW M8 GTE.

The 2018 season will mark BMW Team RLL’s tenth consecutive year in IMSA competition, in a partnership dating back to the debut BMW M3 GT in the American Le Mans Series in 2009.

BMW Team RLL finished runner-up in the GT Le Mans championship this year, with four class wins, including victory in the season-ending Motul Petit Le Mans.

“Coming off one of our most successful years together with BMW, I am very pleased that we will continue to work together in the years to come to gain more victories and championships for BMW,” said team principal Bobby Rahal.

“This has been a tremendous, long-term relationship that started in 2009 and we are very honored and privileged to represent BMW on the race tracks of North America.

“An enhanced RLL organization for 2018 will no doubt help in the development and running of the new BMW M8 GTE, which surely is one of the most exciting new cars of 2018.”

A number of Team RLL mechanics and engineers and technicians are at BMW Motorsport in Munich finishing the construction of the first U.S.-bound chassis, which is expected to arrive at the team’s shop late this month.

BMW Team RLL’s testing program is expected to begin early next month at the IMSA-sanctioned test at Daytona.

“The BMW M8 GTE will begin another chapter for BMW Team RLL and we are excited to start testing,” said Victor Leleu, BMW of North America Motorsport Manager.

“Bobby’s team has helped make the M3, Z4 and M6 winners against the best GT competition in the world and we have no doubt that the M8 GTE will follow the same course.

“As evidenced by our four victories with the M6 GTLM this season and especially the Petit Le Mans win, BMW Team RLL – like good wine – gets better with age.”

The team will give the car its competition debut in January’s Rolex 24 at Daytona, with BMW Team MTEK set to run a pair of M8 GTEs in the FIA World Endurance Championship.

Drivers for both programs are expected to be announced at BMW’s end-of-year party on Dec. 15.

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365 as well as the recently launched e-racing365 Web site for electric racing. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for FOXSports.com/SPEED Channel, and contributes to other publications worldwide. Contact John

9 Comments

9 Comments

  1. jason

    November 7, 2017 at 1:05 pm

    No surprise there. R.L.L. had a huge turnaround in 2017 after a bad 2016. They could have also have won Laguna Seca and VIR on top of the 4 wins they had already. Hope BMW follows Porsche and Ford by running the same livery and even car numbers between both WEC and IMSA. The continuity is very nice to have.

    Still have heard nothing from IMSA about class number color codes. Maybe we’ll know that come the December test. GTLM should be green.

    • m6 is a prototype

      November 7, 2017 at 4:29 pm

      they also should have won cota if not for stupid pit mistakes

    • Overtake24

      November 7, 2017 at 4:31 pm

      They should’ve won Long Beach and COTA too if I recall.

    • Jason

      November 7, 2017 at 4:47 pm

      Correction..Long Beach. Nit laguna. That was one of the four wins

      • Lex

        November 8, 2017 at 6:26 am

        I was gonna say I literally remember John Edwards going around a Ferrari at the last turn of Laguna. But Long Beach got away from them and so did COTA. It was taking so long, I thought Andretti may have actually beat them to the M8 factory entry. And lastly why the M8? M4 would been so much cooler in my eyes, instead of this GTLM Bentley.lol

  2. tracer

    November 7, 2017 at 3:08 pm

    While I’d begun to doubt RLL after a dissapointing 2016, they absolutely earned a new contract with their performance this season. I’m very interested to see how BMW allocates their driver pool next year now that they have two fully fledged factory GTE programs.

  3. WBrowning

    November 7, 2017 at 3:10 pm

    Now that there ore only 3 classes DPi/P2-Red, GTLM-Green GT3-Orange would make sense and match the WEC. Not really a big deal, but easy to do.

    • Gene

      November 8, 2017 at 10:20 am

      Totally agree. Never understood just the 2 colors for 4 classes.
      Easy fix.

  4. Donald

    November 11, 2017 at 11:21 pm

    Need any more drivers? I completely enjoyed spirited driving in my E36 & E46 M3s!!!

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