BMW M on Monday revealed its sports prototype being developed for the new LMDh (Le Mans Daytona hybrid) category of race car eligible for the top classes of both the FIA World Endurance Championship and IMSA SportsCar Championship starting from 2023.
Called the BMW M Hybrid V8, the car features a design that's distinctly BMW, thanks to a kidney grille and Hofmeister kink (in this case only a graphic). The car also sports “50 Jahre BMW M” scripts to mark this year's 50th anniversary of the founding of BMW M. Jahre is the German word for “years.”
BMW M has only committed to the SportsCar Championship thus far, in the series' premier GTP (Grand Touring Prototype) class, but hasn't ruled out an entry in the WEC's Hypercar class specifically for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the main event on the WEC calendar. It means we could potentially see BMW M competing at the top level at Le Mans for the first time since 1999, back when its V12 LMR sports prototype secured the automaker's first and only overall victory in the French classic.
The GTP and Hypercar classes will be open to both LMDh race cars and those built to Le Mans Hypercar rules, as Balance of Performance measures will be used to ensure an even playing field.
2023 BMW M Hybrid V8 LMDh race car
In line with LMDh rules, BMW M uses a chassis sourced from Italy's Dallara, one of four firms supplying chassis for the category. The car will need to tip the scales at a minimum 1,030 kilograms (2,270 pounds), and its powertrain, an undisclosed V-8 hybrid setup, can generate at any time a maximum output of around 670 hp.
BMW M will run its LMDh campaign with America's Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, under the BMW Team RLL banner. The current plan is to field two of the cars in the 2023 SportsCar Championship. Bobby Rahal, co-owner of RLL Racing, will serve as team principal. He will work closely with Maurizio Leschiutta, project leader at BMW M for the LMDh program.
Alpine, Audi, Cadillac and Porsche are all committed to LMDh, while Ferrari, Glickenhaus, Peugeot and Toyota are all committed to LMH. Lamborghini also announced in May that it will join the LMDh fold in 2024.
The first race for LMDh will be the 2023 24 Hours of Daytona next January. The race is the opening round of the 2023 SportsCar Championship.