BMW M Motorsport has been pleased with the progress in the development of its LMDh car, with U.S. testing set to ramp up leading into the program’s race debut next year.
Formally unveiled on Thursday, the pair of Team RLL-run factory BMW M Hybrid V8s will be driven by Connor De Phillippi, Nick Yelloly, Augusto Farfus and Phillip Eng for the full IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season.
NTT IndyCar Series star Colton Herta has been so far the only confirmed additional driver for the car’s debut in the Rolex 24 at Daytona, with the German manufacturer not yet having confirmed if it will opt for three or four-driver lineups in the Florida endurance classic.
With the car having completed a test at Sebring International Raceway earlier this week prior to its presentation at the Petersen Museum, BMW M Motorsport boss Andreas Roos said everything has been running to plan.
“After Petit Le Mans, there are the [IMSA] sanctioned tests [at Road Atlanta and Daytona],” Roos told Sportscar365.
“Next week we are in Watkins Glen testing there. We have quite some tests coming in the next weeks and months up to the Roar test and then the Daytona 24.”
The Sebring outing saw BMW’s “main drivers” share the wheel of the Dallara-chassised prototype, marking its first running on U.S. soil after tests in Italy and Spain.
“For sure we did some mileage [at Sebring],” Roos said. “For us, Sebring is very important because it’s a bumpy track and is [good] to check if the reliability is there and if everything works.
“So far, everything is running OK, so let’s see.
“Our main drivers have been testing. Now we’ll have to bring Colton into the car and things like this. We will share the tests equally between all of the drivers so everybody gets their driving time.
“Basically the car is from now on nearly all the time on track. There’s not really a big break in between. The car will nearly be going from race track to race track.
“For sure in between we have to do some rebuilds and checks but the car is basically flat out going.”
Roos said that all focus will now be put on its U.S. testing program prior to final homologation, with no parallel European-based testing currently planned.
BMW M CEO Franciscus van Meel said he doesn’t expect any members from future BMW FIA World Endurance Championship entrant Team WRT to be embedded with the IMSA program for the time being.
“Testing has been very intense but I must say quite successful because I didn’t expect the car to be running so fast,” van Meel told Sportscar365.
“It’s [a] very complicated [car] — the drivetrain, the electronics, the overall new chassis with everything.
“For the complexity of the car, I was really surprised it did make a rollout and it actually raced later in the day.
“In the beginning — you can also see that in the Mbedded movie — it just rolled out of the garage, then we tried to start the car, it made one jump and then it stalled again because we had to push it back because the electronics was not working as we expected.
“The first one-and-a-half or two hours, we were really trying to get the electronics running. But after two hours the we really had a start and the car started racing.
“It was a little like the birth of a child.
“I’m quite happy about the way it’s running right now. It’s really starting to get stable. It’s already really fast.”
Roos added: “In the beginning you have to first look at all of the systems and [if] everything is working like it should be.
“This is why we were in Sebring to see if there are any reliability issues. Because if you have to do some changes, you have to know it as early as possible.
“This is what we’re working on. In parallel, you also do performance testing to get everything out of the car.
“At the moment, we’re quite happy to see what the car is doing on the track.
“When you talk to the drivers, they all have a smile on their face when they come out of the car.”
Jonathan Grace contributed to this report