BMW has ruled out launching a LMP1 program for the new-for-2017 regulations, although wouldn’t discount possible future involvement at Le Mans through a Garage 56 entry.
The German manufacturer had been in the spotlight following reports that it was evaluating a possible factory entry, although BMW Motorsport director Jens Marquardt admitted that the current LMP1 technology does not fit with the brand’s vision.
“Regulations in LMP1 are obviously new for 2017 but still, it’s very much hybrid and a hybrid championship,” Marquardt said in a media roundtable during last weekend’s Total 24 Hours of Spa.
“At the moment you have key players there that are competing on a super high level. We’ve always said since 2009 that what we do in racing has to reflect what we do in production.
“That’s why we’ve turned to production-like racing with production-based cars like the Z4 or M235i, or lookalikes, like the M4 in DTM.
“The other thing that’s important for us is showcasing innovations and technology.
“At the moment, we see hybrid as a stepping stone. EV is the future for BMW as showcased in the ‘i’ sub-brand we have. This current setup does not fulfill our needed criteria.”
Marquardt stressed its motorsports focus is currently on customer programs, outside of a likely return of its BMW of North America-backed GTLM effort in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship.
However, he admitted a program incorporating electric technology, potentially at Le Mans as a Garage 56 entry, is something the manufacturer would possibly consider in the future.
It wouldn’t come until 2018 at the earliest, though, as the ACO has already confirmed quad-amputee Frederic Sausset and the bio-gas-powered WR as the recipients for next year and 2017, respectively.
“As you can see right now with electric vehicles, I think that everybody thought that they would really kick off immensely,” Marquardt said.
“There is markets where that’s happening but there’s other markets where you really need support from infrastructure. It’s maybe a little bit of a slower process than some people expected.
“We just have to see what is happening. We are really happy with our activities right now.
“We’re really busy right now with developing a new GT3 car right now and working a GTLM version on that in parallel.”