As they say in Formula 1, it’s race week. We will have to wait a bit more for F1’s return, and in the meantime, the 2023 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship is just about to start. BMW is fielding a pair of M Hybrid V8 prototypes at the grueling Rolex 24 at Daytona in the United States. During the “Roar before the 24” three-day test that ended on Sunday, the pair grabbed seventh and eighth places and will be starting the endurance race from the fourth row.
BMW M works drivers Philipp Eng (AUT) and Nick Yelloly (GBR) were behind the wheels of the #24 and #25 cars, competing in the GTP class for the season-opener scheduled to take place this coming weekend. BMW is happy to report both M Hybrid V8s didn’t encounter any major technical problems, and everything went according to plan. Ahead of the race debut, five additional test sessions will be conducted in the coming days to boost performance and reliability.
Originally unveiled in early June 2022, the M Hybrid V8 will also race in the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) from 2024. It means we’ll be seeing the electrified race car at the 24 Hours of Le Mans where the V12 LMR triumphed back in 1999 when it also won the 12 Hours of Sebring. In the meantime, the hybrid beast will race at Daytona where BMW intends to showcase the already leaked M3 CS as well.
At the heart of the new endurance machine is a P66/3, a V8 derived from the M4 DTM’s engine used during the 2017 and 2018 seasons. One of the main differences is the adoption of twin turbocharging as the original P66/1 from the Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters was naturally aspirated. BMW Motorsport decided to go with this engine after the P48 used by the M4 DTM in 2019 and 2020 had durability problems while the P63 of the M8 GTE was just too heavy.
For those wondering why BMW chose endurance racing over Formula 1, it all came down to the stronger connection between the M Hybrid V8 and road-going models. In addition, the Munich-based automaker said F1 would’ve required a much higher investment that BMW wasn’t willing to make. Archrival Audi has confirmed plans to enter F1 in 2026 with Sauber while Porsche is still interested in joining the competition despite not being able to reach an agreement with Red Bull Racing.