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Rahal to Run BMW LMDh Program; GTD Pro in 2022

BMW confirms RLL will run factory LMDh cars from 2023; plus M4 in GTD Pro…

Image: BMW

BMW M Motorsport has announced that Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing will operate the manufacturer’s LMDh program in the 2023 WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, as well as a two-car GT Daytona Pro effort next year with the M4 GT3.

The agreement means that RLL will continue its long-standing factory affiliation with BMW in North American motorsport beyond the end of the GT Le Mans class, with programs in the next-generation GT and prototype ranks.

A pair of in-development Dallara-based BMW LMDh cars are set to be operated by RLL in the first season of IMSA’s upcoming top-level prototype category in 2023.

BMW offered the first glimpse of the spec-hybrid prototype in the announcement of RLL’s involvement in the project.

It confirmed that the car will be known as the BMW M LMDh.

“BMW Team RLL is the ideal partner for our LMDh project,” said Mike Krack, head of BMW M Motorsport.

“BMW M Motorsport has been working very successfully with Bobby Rahal and his crew since 2009. During this time, we have all come to know the IMSA series very well and have celebrated major success together.

“From our perspective, racing in the top class and challenging for overall victories from 2023 is the logical next step.

“When you compete with a new race car, it is a great advantage to already know what awaits you in the race series, at the circuits, and in terms of organization.

“This is 100 percent the case in the constellation we have opted for. That also goes for BMW of North America. Thank you very much for your fantastic support.

“Plus, BMW Team RLL is not only one of the best teams in North America on the GT scene, but also in formula racing so we have all the right ingredients for success.”

Team RLL and BMW have been linked through GT racing exploits since the 2009 American Le Mans Series, but the 2023 IMSA season will mark the first in which the two organizations team up on a prototype racing venture.

RLL has operated factory BMW GT entries with the M3, Z4, M6 and M8 models. It won back-to-back Rolex 24 at Daytonas with the current M8 GTE in 2019 and 2020.

Shortly after the announcement of RLL’s involvement in BMW’s future works motorsport activities, Augusto Farfus gave the new M4 GT3 a demonstration run around Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta prior to the Motul Petit Le Mans race.

Krack told Sportscar365 last month that RLL was the main team in contention to run a factory effort in GTD Pro, which is replacing the GTLM class next year.

Drivers for the LMDh and GTD Pro entries are yet to be announced.

“For me personally and professionally this is a dream come true,” said RLL team boss Bobby Rahal.

“Now to first run a brand-new car like the BMW M4 GT3 and after that make the next step with BMW Team RLL to race for overall wins in the LMDh class is a direction we definitely wanted to go.

“I’m so pleased, so proud, so thankful that we’ll be able to do it together with BMW M Motorsport.”

BMW M CEO Franciscus van Meel, who succeeded Markus Flasch in the role on Nov. 1, commented that BMW and RLL are tackling LMDh “together at full speed”.

Team RMG, which was BMW’s development partner on the M4 GT3, is set to carry the same role on the collaborative Europe-based development of the BMW M LMDh, which is expected to hit the track for the first time next year.

“I’m delighted that our LMDh project has reached its next milestone with the announcement of BMW Team RLL as the team to race in the two prototypes,” said van Meel.

“As with chassis partner Dallara, in team principal Bobby Rahal and his crew we have outstanding expertise and decades of experience at the highest level on our side.

“The LMDh project continues to gain momentum and I am confident that next year we will once again take all necessary steps as planned to be as well prepared as possible for entering our first IMSA season with the LMDh prototypes in 2023.

“We are taking on this new challenge together at full speed.”

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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