Fans of BMW Motorsport have been begging the Bavarian brand to get back into the game. Rumors have been spreading quite a bit, over the past year or so, of BMW getting back into both Formula One and Le Mans. However, BMW has always squashed such rumors, claiming its success in GT3 racing to be enough to satisfy the company. But now, rumors have continued to spread about a possible entry into Le Mans, for BMW, with a hydrogen-powered racer.
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We know that BMW is currently in the hydrogen game, as it has a couple of hydrogen BMW 5 Series’ running around at the moment, but it’s unclear if it would be willing to bring that technology to the race track. If BMW were to get into racing, Le Mans would be the place to go as Audi has had some great success with its e-tron racers. However, much of BMW’s hydrogen technology stems from a joint-venture with Toyota, who already has a Le Mans racer of its own, so that could cause a bit of conflict.
There’s the experimental vehicle racing division, Garage 56, where Nissan races its Deltawing, but BMW has all but squashed the idea of entering that. “Garage 56 is not that well known, and we have to be conscious of the return on any investment.” said BMW Marketing Boss, Ian Robertson. Though, Robertson did claim that a return to Le Mans “is on the agenda” for BMW, according to Autocar.
It would be a bit beneficial for BMW to enter Le Mans with a sort of hydrogen-powered racer. Motorsport is a great way to get the public behind new technologies and new cars, so long as you win. Audi’s e-tron Le Mans racing cars have been winning quite a bit the past couple of years and it helps to show off its technologies. BMW could do something similar with a hydrogen-powered car and it would show the public just how goo BMW’s hydrogen tech is. If it can be used to win races, it will be good on the road. At least that’s the idea.
On the flip-side, however, if BMW were to enter the LMP1 (Le Mans Prototype) class, it would be at the back in terms of experience and innovation. According to BMW’s Motorsport Boss, Jens Marquardt, BMW would be fifth in that field to Audi, Toyota, Porsche and Nissan. So it wouldn’t be something where BMW would have much of a competitive advantage, if any at all. “LMP1 is, at the moment, the big hybrid thing, and in there we wouldn’t be the leader,” he said. “We wouldn’t even be the fast follower, we would be a slow follower now, as the fifth manufacturer joining in,”
So there is good reason for BMW to both enter and not enter Le Mans, or any type of other Motorsport. Us as fans would love to see BMW enter Le Mans and make the gold back from Audi, but it would be very difficult to do so. Though it would be interesting to see BMW hone its hydrogen skills on the race track and implement its learnings into road cars. The race track is the best testbed for new technologies so BMW should at least give it some serious consideration. Hopefully we’ll see a hydrogen BMW take down Audi’s e-tron racer.