There’s currently much hubbub over the BMW 8 Series Concept Coupe, a car that will bring back one of the brand’s iconic nameplates, with style and luxury. Fans can’t get enough of the 8 Series and are itching to finally see what the production car will actually look like. While we still have to wait a little while longer to see what it will be, the newly debuted BMW M8 GTE WEC racing car will give us a hint.

“The BMW M8 GTE is our new GT flagship and will go head to head with the strong opposition in this sector,” said BMW Motorsport Director Jens Marquardt. “For us, the presentation of the uncamouflaged car at the IAA is the next important step on the road to our first race outing, which we plan to be the 24 Hours of Daytona in 2018. The FIA WEC and the IMSA series in North America are a top competitive environment for our new challenger. With the BMW M8 GTE, we are bringing cutting-edge technology to the top international class of GT racing, whilst at the same time tying in with our tradition at Le Mans. The development of the BMW M8 GTE is on schedule, and we can hardly wait to see the car challenging for victories in 2018.”

You read that correctly. Not only is this new BMW M8 GTE an all new endurance race car for BMW but it also marks the Bavarian brand’s return to Le Mans.

Under that long hood lies a 4.0 liter TwinPower turbo engine that makes upward of 500 hp, depending on the classification. That engine is paired with a six-speed sequential manual gearbox and powers only the rear wheels, obviously, as only rear-wheel drive is allowed in endurance racing. It also gets a carbon fiber driveshaft and a Sachs carbo fiber clutch. Cool stuff.

While 500 hp really isn’t that much in modern BMWs, considering that the new M5 makes 600 hp, it’s all that’s allowed and it’s plenty in a car as lightweight and hardcore as the M8 GTE. Its dry curb-weight is only 1,220 kb (2689 lbs), which is about as light as a Mazda MX-5. Imagine an MX-5 with 500 hp, racing suspension and race-compound slicks? BMW achieved much of this weight loss with extensive uses of CFRP (Carbon Fiber Reinforced Plastic) and much of the same technique and design used to make the M8 GTE race car has also gone into the 8 Series and M8 road cars.

BMW has also gone to extensive lengths to make sure that the aerodynamics and construction of the M8 GTE and are both absolutely top-notch. Using new algorithms and impressive computing power, BMW has been able to increase the possible number of aerodynamic simulations in the wind tunnel, therefor even further reducing drag and increasing aerodynamic stability. 3D measuring, the same sort used on the recent BMW M4 DTM, was also employed to insure the absolute best quality and precision in the construction of the M8 GTE.

In terms of its design, much of the BMW M8 GTE is bespoke. So don’t expect the road car to look exactly like it. However, there are some distinct styling cues that are shared between the two cars. For instance, both cars share the same roof line and silhouette, so expect the road car to have the same long, sweeping roofline. Also, the headlight and taillight designs are very similar, despite the M8 GTE’s being regulated for endurance racing use.

This is a very good looking race car, better even than the BMW M6 GT3 that preceded it. If this is any indication of what the BMW M8 road car will look like, I think we’re all in for a treat.