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Marquardt: Hypercar “Not a Mission” for BMW

Jens Marquardt says BMW does not plan to enter FIA WEC hypercar formula in 2020-21…

Photo: BMW

BMW has ruled out an immediate entry into the FIA World Endurance Championship hypercar prototype category.

The German manufacturer’s motorsport director Jens Marquardt said the lack of a suitable road car in its range combined with a narrow development window means an entry is unlikely.

BMW has been present in technical working group meetings for the new regulations that were detailed last week ahead of their its in the 2020-21 WEC season.

Marquardt told Sportscar365 in September that it had been “listening in” to discussions, but it would be a challenge to formulate a program in time and that “more clarity” was needed on the regulations.

Following the recent publication of the technical rulebook, he confirmed that BMW is not currently pursuing a return to the top level of prototype racing which it last entered in 1999.

“At the moment we don’t have a real hypercar in our portfolio so it’s not something we can realize within a couple of years,” Marquardt told reporters at BMW’s annual review on Friday.

“The regulations can be appealing with the costs spread over five years.

“But everybody knows when you don’t have a car like that in the portfolio it’s very difficult and you have to spend a lot of money to invest in such a car if you want to develop it. The high expenditures at the beginning are more like two and a half times more.

“For the moment, it’s not a mission for us.”

Marquardt suggested that a hypercar category more closely aligned with the existing GTE formula would have appealed to BMW more.

He also expressed concern for how the hypercar rules, which revolve around brand-specific bodywork and OEM-produced hybrid power systems, will impact GTE.

BMW instead plans to concentrate on its program with the BMW M8 GTE that debuted this year in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and WEC.

It’s understood some manufacturers had recently proposed the concept of high-powered GTE cars as the new premier category, although the idea was shot down.

“We hoped for the GTE class to be promoted to the top category, to get more attention,” Marquardt said.

“It’s where the top manufacturers are [and it has] the closest racing in the series.

“We have to consider, with the performance of these hypercars, what kind of effect it has on the GTE class. We have to look at that.

“In all, we are in a good position. So I’m not really worried about the fact that we don’t have a hypercar.”

Marquardt’s comments come after McLaren CEO Zak Brown said it was “highly unlikely” that the British constructor would commit for 2020-21.

Other OEM manufacturers are still believed to be interested, including Toyota which released a statement following the publication of the rules.

It said it welcomed the announcement having “played an active role” in the development of the rules, and that it would study the regulations further as part of its “evaluation and planning for the 2020-21 season.”

Rene de Boer contributed to this report.

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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