BMW has ruled out a LMP1 program for the new-for-2018 LMP1 regulations, amid increased talk the German manufacturer had been exploring an imminent prototype effort for the FIA World Endurance Championship.
German media reported that WEC LMP1 and GTE-Pro programs had been under consideration, but according to BMW Motorsport Director Jens Marquardt, the short-term focus remains in GT racing.
“WEC as a platform for sure is interesting,” Marquardt told Sportscar365. “I’ve been to the Nürburgring [WEC race]. I got an invite from an old colleague and I had a look at it, and it’s definitely a good platform.
“If you look at LMP1 and you see the level of expertise that the competitors there have, it’s really tough right now.
“At the end of the day, hybrid technology is really important, but for us it’s like a stepping stone. Technology-wise, it’s part of what we do in our production cars.
“We have now increased our plug-in hybrids quite substantially in our overall portfolio, but for us something like LMP would have to be a major step in technology to really communicate something in technology.”
Marquardt said the FIA’s and ACO’s vision towards the next set of LMP1 regulations, currently planned for 2021, could better suit BMW depending on its direction.
The ACO proposed the concept of hydrogen fuel cell technology last month, which could join gasoline and diesel as a fuel option in the future in the WEC and at Le Mans.
“That is something that we’re happy to discuss with the ACO and the FIA, what that could be in the future,” he said.
“They have started, and they have talked about this at Le Mans, about this process. But I think it’s really more heading to the 2020’s.”
In the meantime, BMW could still enter the WEC, with Marquardt previously confirming to Sportscar365 plans to build its next-generation GT car to full GTE regulations for as early as 2018.
It would be the first ACO-homologated GT car since the M3 GT2, which competed at LeMans in 2010 and 2011.
A Garage 56 effort, as a precursor to a potential LMP1 entry in the 2020’s, is believed to also be under consideration.