This year marks 50 years for BMW’s M division, which was built in 1972 to engineer the 3.0 CSL “Batmobile”, which won the European Touring Car Championship the following year. To celebrate, BMW has launched the new M Hybrid V8 LMDh race car, which will take to the track in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in 2023.
When that happens, it will be the company’s first prototype racer developed by BMW Motorsports in 25 years. We saw the kidney grilled race car in its camouflaged test apparel back in June, but now the full race livery has been revealed.
The new graphic scheme uses the traditional BMW M colors of red, light blue and dark blue over white in a pattern the company calls “fractal blocks”. “These elements have been taken apart to form what at first glance may appear to be an abstract triangle pattern across the BMW M Hybrid V8,” said Michael Scully, Global Director of Automotive and Advanced Design. “But when viewed from the side, the M logo clicks into place.”
Additionally, BMW says, the blue and violet colors are present to emphasize the electric nature of the 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8. The addition of an asymmetrical matte black section in front of the driver has been observed in other recent BMW race cars, but is now much more noticeable. It’s also likely to double as a glare reduction bonus. The other sections that appear black are actually carbon fiber convertibles.
In the foreground, the nose is dominated by a pair of branded kidney grilles. These are lit, but not a traditional LED. Instead, it is illuminated by a Swiss company’s passive fiber-optic technology that is activated by a laser.
Other BMW gestures can be found in the bodywork. A closer look at the M8 GTE-esque kidneys reveals a pioneering front upper edge that recalls the shark-nose design of BMWs of the 1970s and 1980s. The L-shaped guide vane behind the front wheels is said to evoke the M4’s side vents. The mirrors also have an M hook design, and a loose interpretation of the famous Hofmeister shape can be seen on the trailing edge of the windows.
Powering the BMW M Hybrid V8 is a bi-turbo and electrified version of the eight-cylinder P66/1 engine used in the 2017-18 M4 DTM Tourer. BMW says it tried the P48 four-cylinder engine, but found durability issues. Testing with the M8 GTE’s P63 turbocharged engine found it to be very heavy. In forced induction and hybrid looks called the P66/3, as it’s the third version of the engine, it puts out roughly 640 horsepower and 479 pound-feet of torque.
The M Hybrid V8 will make its racing debut in the GTP class for the Rolex 24 at Daytona on January 28. There, the main drivers will be American Conor De Phillippe, Austrian Phillip Ing, Brazil’s Augusto Farfus and Great Britain’s Nick Yellowy. They will be joined by IndyCar driver Colton Herta. There are some big names on the other side of the pit wall, too. Named BMW M Team RLL, the team’s ownership consists of CART legend Bobby Rahal and talk show host David Letterman and Patrick Lanigan.
“We are proud that, in parallel with the fiftieth anniversary of the birth of BMW M, we are returning to the stage of great motorsport with the BMW M Hybrid V8,” said BMW M CEO Franciscus van Mel. “We are delighted that this adventure is beginning in North America, the most important international market for BMW. The BMW M Hybrid V8 is more than just a race car, it paves the way for an electric future for BMW M, by emphasizing how dynamic the electrified M Power can be. and emotional.”
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