It's ready to set American circuits alight!
Remember a few years ago when the rules regarding Le Mans Prototypes for the world endurance championship were changed? The goal was to get manufacturers back into producing roadgoing versions of their racers, and so a new category was born - the Le Mans Hypercar category. This attracted a ton of interest from Toyota, Aston Martin, Ferrari, and more recently, Lamborghini and BMW. After several teasers, today is the day that BMW has officially unveiled its entrant that will be competing in the 2023 IMSA series, officially called the BMW M Hybrid V8.
While the rules had originally called for roadgoing versions of the hypercars to be made, we have to caution you against getting excited about a street-legal version of this. Later iterations of the rules removed the requirement for a road-going equivalent of the racer.
Let that not distract you from BMW M Motorsport's entry, however, as it is still mighty impressive. At least it looks like it. Information isn't abundantly available about the racer, with BMW only mentioning it will be a hybrid V8. The reveal of today's car is more of a stylistic reveal than a technical one, with BMW M using the opportunity to further celebrate 50 years of BMW M, which has already seen the unveiling of various special edition M3 and M4s, and the release of the BMW M4 CSL.
In keeping with the theme of the year, the Le Mans Daytona h prototype (LMDh cars fall under the broader banner of the LMh category) needed to look like an authentic BMW product, and an M one at that. That's why the first thing you'll notice about it is a gaping pair of kidney grilles - something that BMW M calls the hallmark of the BMW M Hybrid V8 racer.
Like roadgoing M cars this anniversary year, the M Hybrid V8 features the special 50th-anniversary roundel logo and inherits other stylistic elements from BMW's roadgoing machines like the twin BMW icon lights, M 'hook' wing mirrors, and a Hofmeister kink window graphic.
"My team's job was to make the BMW M Hybrid V8 look like a BMW, and embrace every opportunity to make it also perform like one on the race track," said BMW Group Designworks Global Automotive Director Michael Scully. "The design is rooted in BMW's DNA of purposeful, efficient performance, and the exterior's bold, determined character invokes BMW's frontiersmanship of turbo power; now united with an optimized hybrid electric powertrain.
"The camouflage livery celebrates the 50 Years of M by commemorating the great cars of BMW's storied history in IMSA racing while uniquely cloaking the BMW M Hybrid V8's future-facing exterior geometry and technologies during the critical on-track development phase of the project."
The look you see here will not be the final racing livery, but rather the one that will be used to complete its full testing regime. It does, however, celebrate five decades of motorsport success. The camo used comprises images of some of BMW's most iconic racers, including the 1976 3.0 CSL, the 1981 M1/C, the 1978 320i Turbo, the E36 M3 GTS-2, Z4 GTLM, M8 GTE, and the 1986 BMW GTP.
"The most critical task and the greatest challenge for the design team in the LMDh program design team was that the prototype must be clearly recognizable as a BMW M Motorsport car," says BMW M boss, Frank van Meel. "And I can say this to all the fans, just one look is enough to confirm that the BMW M Hybrid V8 is a BMW. It clearly carries the genes of BMW M."
The M Hybrid V8 is being built in partnership with Italian sports car maker Dallara. In line with LMDh regulations, the car will have a peak power output of 671 horsepower from its hybrid combustion powertrain, of which the hybrid component contributes 50 hp. The car will weigh 2,271 lbs and make use of an Xtrac gearbox while the MGU-H electric motor will come from Bosch. Batteries will be supplied by Williams Advanced Engineering.