A brace of factory BMW drivers will drive the two BMW M Hybrid V8s campaigned by BMW M Team RLL in 2023. Connor De Phillippi, Nick Yelloly, Augusto Farfus and Phillipp Eng will make up the core driver roster for the Nos. 24 and 25 LMDh machines in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. American De Phillippi and Brit Yelloly will pair in one, with Austrian Eng and Brazilian Farfus campaigning the other.
“Since the GTP project was announced, it has been a dream of mine to be part of the program,” said De Phillippi. “I know we are all eager to deliver championship results for BMW at the top level of IMSA competition.”
In addition, BMW announced at the special event held at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles on Thursday night that IndyCar driver Colton Herta will be involved for the endurance races. Herta scored a 2019 Rolex 24 at Daytona victory in the GTLM class driving the M8 GTE.
The race livery for the car was also revealed at the event, whose attendees included BMW M CEO Franciscus van Meel, Head of BMW M Motorsport Andreas Roos, IMSA President John Doonan, and the owners of BMW M Team RLL, Bobby Rahal, David Letterman and Patrick Lanigan.
“There is no doubt that we understand and appreciate the level of commitment and dedication it will take on the part of RLL to be successful in this new venture,” said Rahal.
“BMW M Motorsport is providing us with a great car, great engine and great driver lineup, of which we are very pleased. We understand the scope of the challenge in front of us and look forward to meeting it head on. As has been the case before, the level of cooperation and teamwork has been tremendous. Being in on the ground floor certainly gives our personnel good insight into the car from the beginning. I’ve learned long ago that you temper your expectations. Yes, you have hopes and you know you will be ultimately successful, but, as with any new car program, there are unforeseen circumstances that can work in your favor or work against you. For RLL, it’s a matter of being prepared for either.”
BMW will be going up against Acura, Cadillac and Porsche in the new GTP class in 2023, designed around the LMDh specification as well as the WEC Hypercar class. BMW also wants to take the car to WEC in 2024. The car has begun an intensive testing schedule in the US, including at Sebring International Raceway earlier this week, and BMW will participate in the IMSA-sanctioned group test at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta after Petit Le Mans next weekend – during which the car with its race livery will be on display to the public.
“Being back in the top class of motorsport and battling for overall victories at such legendary races as Daytona, Sebring and Road Atlanta in 2023 is both a major challenge and huge motivation for everyone at BMW M Motorsport,” said Roos. “We have worked very hard in recent months to get the BMW M Hybrid V8 ready for racing in a short time. Thank you to all our partners at Dallara, BMW M Team RLL, our development team RMG, and BMW Group Designworks for the fantastic support with assembling, developing and testing the car. The BMW M Hybrid V8 is a beautiful race car. It is now our job to make it fast. We are working towards achieving this goal day by day and are confident that we will be ready in January when we really get down to business for the first time at Daytona.”
The livery revealed Thursday night comes from BMW Group Designworks under the program leadership of Michael Scully, Global Director, Automotive and Advanced Design. The works livery represents a significant departure from the heritage-based ‘Icons of IMSA’ camouflage with a future-facing coat of arms comprised of modern, bold, fractal blocks of the iconic M colors and the M logo.
“These elements have been deconstructed to form what at first might appear to be an abstract triangular pattern across the BMW M Hybrid V8, but when viewed from the side, the M logo clicks right into place. – M reconstructed, if you want.” Scully said.
Without the camouflage, the design of the car is more readily apparent, and incorporates several recognizable design elements from BMW’s heritage, beyond the immediately apparent twin-kidney grill. That includes the forward-leaning shark nose, the boomerang-shaped guide vane behind the front wheel arch, M mirrors and an interpretation of the ‘Hofmeister kink,’ a long-used design on BMW windows.
More importantly, the aero elements incorporated into the car became apparent in the new livery. The layout of the laser-lit kidneys leads into the open, flow-through architecture of a modern prototype race car, contributing to both aerodynamic performance in terms of downforce and cooling of the twin-turbo, 4.0-liter, 90-degree V8.
There is still much testing to be done before the BMW M Hybrid V8 is ready for the Roar before the 24 and the Rolex, but so far the drivers are pleased with what they’ve experienced and the opportunity they’ve been provided.
“It is an honor for me to have been given this unique opportunity,” said Eng. “I am really looking forward to the challenge and am grateful to BMW M Motorsports for the trust they have put in me. I will never forget my first laps in the BMW M Hybrid V8. It is a thoroughbred race car with a huge amount of performance and power. It reminds me of the Class 1 cars in DTM. It will be great fun to drive it at the IMSA racetracks.”