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Wittmann, Eng Upbeat About BMW’s Progress After Test

BMW factory drivers think Team RLL can have “good race” at Daytona during GTP debut…

Photo: Mike Levitt/IMSA

Philipp Eng and Marco Wittmann are upbeat about BMW M Team RLL’s progress following last week’s IMSA-sanctioned test at Daytona International Speedway, also downplaying the impact of a recent endurance test failure.

Eng and Wittmann both were among the six drivers that turned laps with a pair of BMW M Hybrid V8s.

While BMW, like the other four LMDh manufacturers, encountered stoppages and issues during the two-day test, Wittmann expressed contentment about the progress made.

“I think we can be happy,” Wittmann told Sportscar365. “Generally we had quite some decent running, some decent laps. Obviously trying different programs, trying some longer runs and shorter runs to see how the tires last, those kinds of things.

“Honestly speaking, I think it is just normal if you have a car from scratch to start with and also going into this new era with the hybrid system, which is new for all of us.

“I think it is just normal that sometimes you have very good, very decent tests and sometimes you have a bit of downtime, some issues or problems but that is just normal if you have a new project like this.

“I think it’s just purely normal. I think it’s nothing which we should worry about.

“In the end the one who makes the least mistakes at the Rolex 24 will probably win it so I think that’s the main important goal for now. We did the homework, we are still working on it until the 24.” 

Wittmann shared driving duties of the newly completed No. 24 car with Eng, which only joined the track for the second and final day of testing.

“Philipp did the first few laps in the car and then I jumped in. So all good,” said Wittmann.

Eng added: “We had two cars. So we had our race car and the test car there. The test car did some very good mileage and for us it was just about to get the last pieces on.

“We did a shakedown but then we did some good running. I must say I was really surprised, because it is a complex car but we put it together and it worked first time out.”

BMW’s test program took a notable hit as its planned 24-hour endurance test at Sebring International Raceway was cut short due to mechanical issues, which included MGU-related gearbox issues as well as engine failure.

Both drivers downplayed the significance of the lack of track time.

“I don’t think so because we immediately understood what the issue was,” said Eng. “The gearbox supplier could immediately bring an update which I think is now solved.

“In an ideal world, yes,” he added if asked more track time would be beneficial. “But I am also confident on the other hand that we go to Daytona and have a good race there.”

Wittmann added: “Sometimes you have tests that go well and sometimes you have some issues.

“I think that is something you just need to calculate into the development phase. I think it’s purely normal and I know the others had exactly the same or other problems and had a lot of downtime.  

“All the hybrid systems are very complex and something new for all of us to implement in these LMDh cars. I think that’s something we need to find out and work out.”

Roos: “Still A Long Way To Go” Until Daytona

Head of BMW M Motorsport Andreas Roos struck a more nuanced tone when asked about BMW’s position heading into Daytona, stating that reliability is the marque’s main concern.

“We said from the beginning that we had a very compressed and intensive testing phase,” he said. “This will for sure continue until we run at Daytona. It will continue until the checkered flag will drop at Daytona, basically.

“We had some good running now in Daytona in the sanctioning test, but to be honest there is still a long way to go until the race.

“At the moment the main topic for sure is to be reliable, that our operations and everything are working fine and that the drivers get used to it.

“This is our main focus at the moment. For sure it’s still a tough preparation, but we are there.”

Wittmann agreed with Roos, but expressed trust in the progress that can still be made.

“There is still some work to do, but obviously we still have roughly five weeks. I would say it in such a way that we don’t have only five weeks, but we still have five weeks.

“I think if you take that approach, it can change a lot and I think you can also change a lot in that time.

“I would also say the team, the mechanics, the engineers, all the guys from Munich, they do a fantastic job. They’re all pushing for this project and I have full trust in it. I’m not worried at all.

“I’m really looking forward to it, honestly speaking, because it’s just so much fun to drive these cars.

“If you get behind the wheel you have so much power delivery. It’s incredible on the straights, the acceleration. I have full trust in my people around and I think we can make it happen to have a good first race weekend at Daytona.”

Davey Euwema is a Sportscar365 reporter based in The Netherlands, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, DTM, Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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