This weekend marked the last race for the BMW M8 GTE in the World Endurance Championship and it all went down at Le Mans. The 24-Hour endurance race is iconic in the motorsport world and for good reason: it’s a thrilling display of how far both man and machine can be pushed. BMW has had a long history of racing on the French track, longer than you may imagine, and it started with the BMW 328 Touring Coupe.
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Before the start of the race this weekend, BMW wanted to mark the moment and the fact that it will be leaving the WEC behind, by bringing out two of the winning BMW cars that raced here. 80 years ago the BMW 328 Touring Coupé recorded a class win to mark the start of the BMW story at Le Mans. In 1999, the BMW V12 LMR celebrated the overall win at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, competing for the BMW Team Schnitzer and driven by Joachim Winkelhock, Yannick Dalmas and Pierluigi Martini. Twenty years on from this triumph, the BMW V12 LMR returned to Le Mans.
The two historic racing cars took to the track just before the start of the classic endurance race on Saturday afternoon, thrilling fans with a demonstration lap on the ‘Circuit de la Sarthe’. Dalmas, one of the winners from 1999, was behind the wheel of the BMW V12 LMR. “That was a difficult, but very special, race back then. It is very tricky to describe what you feel when you cross the line,” said Dalmas as he recalled the victory of 20 years ago.
“The car was perfect for 24 hours, the team was very efficient and we did a good job as drivers. Everything worked just as it should. Winning Le Mans is about teamwork. Everything has to be perfect. It was a great experience to drive at Le Mans with BMW Team Schnitzer and BMW. The BMW V12 LMR was efficient and strong.” For the demonstration lap, the BMW 328 Touring Coupé was driven by BMW Group France Event Manager and racing driver Romain Brandela.