BMW has emerged as the latest manufacturer to join discussions on IMSA’s next-generation DPi platform, with programs for the short and long-term understood to be under evaluation.
The German manufacturer, which is currently present in the GT Le Mans class of the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship with Team RLL-run BMW M8 GTEs, was represented in last week’s IMSA prototype meeting in Daytona for discussions on the next set of DPi regulations due in 2022.
According to BMW Motorsport director Jens Marquardt, no current plans are in place to enter the top prototype class, although it appears set to play an active role in helping shape the yet-to-be-defined platform.
“We discussed with the ACO about new regs; we discussed with IMSA about new regs. We are involved in that on different levels,” Marquardt told Sportscar365.
“We are listening. Obviously where we can, we give our input.
“At the end of the day, if it’s different series in the world, we’re all in the same environment and are all facing the same boundary conditions.
“Even if it’s not the hottest topic on the political side, forging alliances is the best thing you can to do stabilize whatever environment.”
While paddock rumors have indicated a potential customer-based BMW DPi offering, possibly for as early as 2020, Marquardt said the manufacturer is taking a long-term approach at the prototype landscape.
“It could be [for 2020] but it’s nothing we’re currently actively working on,” he said.
As has been the case with Ford, BMW’s Marquardt is in favor of the next-gen regs to feature hybrid powertrains, in an innovative yet cost-effective format that would not drive costs up.
“From my perspective, any top-level works category has to think about hybridization at some stage,” Marquardt said.
“But hybridization in a smart way and not in a spending way. You have two hybrid series that are beyond anything, F1, and that is OK, and LMP1 that has basically died because of that.
“There’s enough good input from real life that should make us all consider as the world is changing, there are things we have to adopt. At the same time we have to be smart about it.
“If we are looking at works-level racing, I think hybrid within the next 3-4 years is something you cannot ignore.”
Marquardt said it’s too early to determine if a possible DPi program could run in parallel to its existing factory GTLM program in the WeatherTech Championship.
BMW has previously supported DP teams through engine supply deals in Grand-Am concurrently with the Team RLL program in what was then in the American Le Mans Series.
“The first thing is to get a set of regs together and see where that leads you,” Marquardt said.
“If you do it the other way around, if you have something that you want to do and you find a way to do it, sometimes it ends up being the wrong thing as a result.”
BMW to “Reassess” WEC Program After Super Season
Marquardt indicated that BMW has yet to formally commit to the 2019-20 FIA World Endurance Championship season, stating that the Hypercar situation is currently in a “volatile” state and potentially impacting the landscape of the series altogether.
BMW made its WEC debut this season with a pair of MTEK-entered M8 GTEs, which have generally struggled in terms of Balance of Performance compared to the cars in the WeatherTech Championship.
“Once the Super Season is over, we’re going to [make a decision],” he said. “There’s one complete package and we’re going to reassess this and see where we go from there.
“There’s big events with Sebring and Le Mans coming [up].
“This is clearly where we need to focus on and see where we go along with our marketing people and everybody, what’s the package like and what did we get out of it? What were our expectations?
“What happened? and obviously not get distracted by this whole Hypercar discussion and really focus on our own things.
“The whole thing is so volatile, we’ll focus on our own things. On the sporting side we really have to focus on that.
“You see how competitive the car is over here [in IMSA]. That’s what we need to dig our heels into and keep grinding on.”