BMW Motorsport Director Jens Marquardt says the BMW M8 GTE is on a “tight but manageable” development schedule as it prepares for its competition debut in January’s Rolex 24 at Daytona.
The new-for-2018 car, which is set to compete in both the FIA World Endurance Championship and IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, completed an initial rollout and three-day test last month at the Lausitzring, with an intensive testing program planned in the buildup to the FIA’s Balance of Performance test in September.
“Until we had the final version [of the car] agreed with the ACO and FIA, everybody was quite late, and therefore the schedule is really tight but manageable and we’re pushing and working hard,” Marquardt told Sportscar365.
“We have to aim to have more or less everything ready [in time for the BoP test].
“For sure, a few tweaks and everything can still be done afterwards, but the majority of key components for the BoP test have to be signed off. That’s what the focus is now.”
While featuring a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8, Marquardt said the M8 GTE engine is “a lot further away” from the largely stock 4.4-liter powerplant used in the M6 GT3 and GTLM cars, which shares nearly 95 percent of the same engine components with the production car.
He said the GTE engine, however, is roughly 60-70 percent production-based and that there’s still some “very strong lessons” that can be carried over from the last two years of racing the M6.
“We have made some significant changes in how we put the package together,” Marquardt said. “There is a different gearbox in it and there is different electronics that we’re using.
“It’s kind of lessons learned but it’s going to be run as a works program rather than a customer program.
“On the customer program, you focus very much on handling for a customer and having something that is really simple and easy to handle, yet high-performance.
“On a works level, you would sacrifice let’s say handling for sheer performance. That’s probably the biggest difference that we’ve looked at in those areas.
“Everything we’ve learned from the GT3 and the GTLM have really led to the development of the M8.
“It would not make any sense at all to start with a white sheet of paper again and do everything all over again, especially when for example the engine is the same base.”
Marquardt said the current European-based testing program is being carried out by its new WEC outfit, BMW Team M-TEK, alongside BMW Motorsport staff, with testing in the U.S. set to begin later this year.
“We have to go as early as we can to the U.S. but I only want to go to the U.S. once we have a solid base,” he said.
“We have done the first test and after a rollout you do function checks, you make sure all the systems work, you do some tuning, because you can do a certain amount on your dynos.
“Then you come to the track and you have to really tune everything and make everything bulletproof, not focusing on performance but focusing on it all working.
“Once you’ve got a base [which is] properly working, you can then start focusing on performance on one side and you can start on, let’s say, hardcore durability testing on the other.
“For sure, when it comes to hardcore durability testing, tracks like Sebring spring to mind.
“That should be done as early as we can, because it would be good to have the durability and not to have to revisit some of the things and do loops afterwards.”