BMW used February's Chicago Auto Show to announce that it would return to the arena of the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) next year with two new race-prepped versions of its latest E92 M3 Coupe set to join the GT2 class. The 2009 entry into the ALMS will be driven by a partnership between BMW of North America and Rahal Letterman Racing, which is also co-owned by US motorsport legend Bobby Rahal.
The race car features a 485hp version of the 4.0L high-rev V8 engine, a race-tuned chassis, a significantly wider and lighter body and plenty of carbon-fiber pieces. The aggressive aerokit was developed using numerous F1 techniques including computational fluid dynamics (CFD) and wind tunnel analysis. The car also runs a new POWER400 ECU system, which does away with conventional relays and fuses and saves even more weight.
BMW is no stranger to ALMS. The carmaker in fact won the event’s inaugural race back in 1999 when .J. Lehto, Tom Kristensen and Jorg Muller drove a BMW V12 LMR to victory lane in the 1999 12 Hours of Sebring. BMW went on to win the overall championship at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and racked up numerous wins in both the GT2 and LMP1 classes before eventually pulling out of the event in 2006.