BMW has been working in recent months very intensively for a possible comeback at Le Mans. In Munich, BMW engineers drew up studies of LMP1 vehicles including a hybrid drive, but the last step – the promulgation of an appropriate race program – failed to materialize so far. Sources say the German manufacturers seem to be split in two camps: those who want to enter LMP1 and others who are eyeing a bigger involvement in Formula E.
In view of the enormous cost – Audi and Porsche spend high hundreds of millions annually – BMW decided to distance themselves from the plans. “Le Mans is certainly interesting, but around the world for specific groups – for example for China as one of the major markets – is not really relevant”, BMW R&D chief Klaus Frolich told ‘auto motor und sport’.
BMW currently races in the U.S. in the Tudor United Sportscar Championship with the BMW Z4 GT3 which will be replaced next yer by the M6 GT3.
LMP1 racing is the obvious choice for a future program, if BMW wanted to get back in the Le Mans game, as its new hybrid technologies would give the Bavarian automaker a serious advantage. BMW has such cutting-edge technologies as TurboSteaming and thermoelectric generators which can give it an edge. LMP1 racing is very much about pushing the technological envelope and BMW is one of the leaders in such a field, with its current i division. BMW is said to be developing a 2.0 liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine which could produce up to 600 hp, through its DTM commitments.
BMW’s last race at Le Mans yielded victory with the Williams-built V12 LMR in 1999, a program that was a precursor to its Formula 1 entry with the British team.