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BMW Undecided on Le Mans GTE-Pro Return

BMW yet to decide on possible Le Mans return with U.S.-based M8 GTE machinery…

Photo: BMW

BMW has yet to decide on whether it will return to the 24 Hours of Le Mans with the M8 GTE machinery, amid its decision to discontinue participation in the FIA World Endurance Championship.

The German manufacturer, which was present in the race for the last two years through its full-season GTE-Pro entries from the now-defunct BMW Team MTEK program, has shifted its GTE focus entirely to the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship with BMW Team RLL.

While a 2020 WeatherTech Championship program has already been confirmed, BMW Motorsport director Jens Marquardt said a decision on a potential Le Mans one-off, utilizing its U.S.-based crew, would come following the conclusion of the IMSA season.

“We are committed to running in IMSA next year, obviously at the end of the day, you have to say there is still a few races to go for us and I think as we see in Watkins Glen and Mosport that we have a competitive package and being in the front row on the starting grid is a good sign,” Marquardt told Sportscar365.

“It is a good platform and you can say now that Daytona 2020 is already around the corner.

“We go through the season and we focus on finishing the season with PLM and we things need to be announced after.”

Team RLL sits fourth in the GT Le Mans class standings, with Connor De Phillippi currently 23 points behind championship leaders Earl Bamber and Laurens Vanthoor, who gave Porsche its fifth consecutive win last time out at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. 

Marquardt said he doesn’t want the prospects of a potential Le Mans program to “disturb” the team’s current campaign in the WeatherTech Championship.

“We don’t need to disturb anything and I think what is always important is that you focus on what you have the season in front of you and it makes more sense to focus on those kind of things and communicate and discuss after what will be done for the future,” he said.

“We are committed to IMSA and to the program and we feel it’s a really good platform. The M8 fits really well in there and we will try and get the best from this year from the M8. We feel that last year it was not able to show its full potential neither in IMSA nor in WEC.

“This year we have the chance to put it where it belongs which is at least on the podium area and that is what we try and achieve.”

Rahal Expresses Desire for Le Mans Bid

Team RLL co-owner Bobby Rahal has voiced his desire to represent BMW at Le Mans, although like Marquardt, has stressed that no decisions have been made.

The legendary open-wheel and sports car racing driver has made previous attempts to take part in the French endurance classic as a team, most recently with a proposed LMP2 program.

“I think BMW knows how I feel about it. I’d love to go,” Rahal told Sportscar365. “All they have to say is let’s go and we’ll be there. So far that’s not happened so our focus is on winning the championship for them next year.”

The Ohio-based team has begun taking delivery of MTEK’s equipment from its single-season WEC campaign, although it will not receive the team’s two race chassis.

It’s understood that BMW’s contract with RLL, which has been operating BMW’s factory GT program for the last 11 years, is up for renewal at the end of this season.

Sam Smith contributed to this report

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365 as well as the recently launched e-racing365 Web site for electric racing. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for FOXSports.com/SPEED Channel, and contributes to other publications worldwide. Contact John

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