BMW’s planned 24-hour endurance test with its LMDh car was cut short due to mechanical issues, it has been revealed, as the German manufacturer looks to make up for lost ground ahead of the BMW M Hybrid V8’s race debut in the Rolex 24 at Daytona.
The manufacturer’s LMDh project leader Maurizio Leschiutta confirmed to Sportscar365 that its test at Sebring International Raceway last month, which saw Cadillac complete a 24-hour run with its V-LMDh, ended early for BMW after several complications.
“We had some mechanical issues and some other mishaps,” Leschiutta said when asked about BMW’s runs since the first IMSA-sanctioned test at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta in October.
“Sebring we had gearbox failure caused by a failure of the hybrid gear-drive. There’s a bearing in there which broke and we discovered it was perhaps not 100 percent.
“There was an [update] from Xtrac, which we’re running here now [at Daytona].
“We also had some engine problems but the gearbox issue cost us quite a bit of time in getting it changed.
“We went there with the objective of doing mileage and doing night running. We did have a lot of downtime with the car, which certainly wasn’t a help.
“But we carried on as soon as we got [the change] finished and then unfortunately we had an engine issue which stopped us in the end.
“We were planning to do extended running. We didn’t make the 24 hours.”
With six weeks until the Roar Before the Rolex 24, Leschiutta admitted they ‘don’t realistically’ have an opportunity for any other long-distance tests for its Dallara-chassied LMDh car prior to the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season-opener.
BMW is taking part in this week’s IMSA-sanctioned test at Daytona International Speedway, where it is rolling out a second LMDh car for the first time as it attempts to play catch-up to the competition in the GTP class.
Leschiutta wouldn’t be drawn to the total mileage accumulated so far other than saying it’s “not enough” although acknowledged it’s been north of 10,000 kms.
“What we want to do is maximize the track time in the tests we have that are remaining, which is this sanctioned test where we want to run both cars,” he explained.
“To get up to speed also with all of the protocols and procedures, scrutineering, tech and so-forth and have everything running properly on the cars.
“We have one more test in Austin, on Dec. 15. It’s a two-day test, where we we’ll have a little bit of night running, trying to get the mileage under our belts.
“Our objective there is to also roll out the second race car.
“We want to reach the Roar prepared with the cars in [the] best possible condition and focus on the operations.”
When asked if there had been considerations to intensify its testing program given the recent setback, Leschiutta indicated they’re already at the limit of what can be done from a scheduling point of view.
“I think it’s a law of dimensioning returns,” he said. “We’re already testing every other week and to try and intensify something like that just puts too much strain on everything.
“The analogy I’m starting to use with some of the folks on the project team is that it’s like when you have an exam and you cram in the last few minutes and sometimes you wonder if it’s better to just stop and to maybe get a good night’s rest and be clear in the head when you approach your exam.
“So trying to do too much in the end may not be the best solution. We already have a very tight schedule. One test every two weeks is a lot. We’ll need to make the best of it.”
He added: “What’s been challenging, and probably most of the entrants in the series have found, is the supply chain, 360 degrees around, has been put under stress.
“The arrival of parts have been just in time, at the last minute, and this is not the best for organizing our work.
“We’re trying to cope with this as best we can.
“It’s certainly not a comfortable situation, not one we would like, but then I guess we knew that when we started into the program because it was an 18-month program from a clean sheet of paper into the first race which is also a grueling 24-hour race.
“It was a big ticket to fill. Now we just have to roll up our sleeves and try to get the job done as best we can and put our best effort in for the Roar.”