BMW is currently undecided on the scale of its factory IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship program next year, with the Rolex 24 at Daytona so far the only confirmed race for the pair of M8 GTEs according to BMW North America motorsports manager Victor Leleu.
The German manufacturer — in partnership with Team RLL — has campaigned full-season factory entries in top-level IMSA competition since 2009 although could face a reduced 2021 schedule due to budget cuts stemming from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
“You have to face an economic reality and have this reality in mind,” Leleu told Endurance-Info. “Daytona is already tomorrow and we are lagging behind in the planning.
“We are working for 2021 and what I can say is that we will be at the 24 Hours of Daytona with two BMW M8 GTLMs.
“For the rest, we will see.”
While BMW Team RLL will be seeking its third consecutive GTLM class win in the Florida endurance classic, Leleu said that “different scenarios” are currently at play for the remainder of the season.
“BMW has a long history in the U.S.,” he said. “The country represents the biggest market in the world for the M brand.
“I’ve seen everything about the rest of the program [on other media outlets], but there is nothing finalized.
“Different scenarios are on the table. The decision is not just about ‘do or don’t do.'”
Should BMW not commit for a full-season GTLM program, it could leave just Corvette Racing as the only full-time entrant in the class.
A handful of teams, including Scuderia Corsa, however, have been evaluating a potential move from GTD.
Lexus, meanwhile, has denied that it would enter the GTLM ranks with its RC F GT3, despite multiple rumors indicating that it was an option for 2021.
BMW Pushing for Future GT Convergence
Leleu stressed that manufacturers like BMW have to look at the long-term sustainability of the class, with the prospects of GTLM being replaced by GT3-spec machinery by as early as the 2022 season in the WeatherTech Championship.
“With six cars and three brands, the [class] was holding up,” he said. “Two, it becomes more complicated.
“We will have to look at the aftermath.
“BMW has always been a supporter of GT convergence. The GT3 category is a global platform with many brands ready to join the premier GT category. In addition, justifying a GTE and GTD program becomes complicated.”
He said having a Pro and Pro-Am class for GTD would be the “easiest solution” moving forward.
“We can see that there are a lot of GT3s in the U.S.,” Leleu said. “To divide the GTD category in half is in my opinion a good idea.
“This would also re-motivate teams that have GT3s.
“The GTD grid also tends to be reduced in IMSA, but also in GT World Challenge America. On the other hand, we are fully satisfied with the commitment of our customers to GT4 in such a difficult period.”
When asked if LMDh could be in BMW’s vision, Leleu said the manufacturer always had an “eye on everything” that’s happening.
“2021 will already be a year of transition for BMW pending the arrival of the M4 GT3,” he said. “We hope that it will be an advantage to be the first brand to offer a new GT3 [car].”
Laurent Mercier contributed to this report