The BMW M8 GTE Will Race at Le Mans Before the 8-Series Even Goes on Sale ""

By | September 12, 2017

BMW is trying hard to keep the attention of car enthusiasts, even as it peddles ever plusher luxury sedans and tools up an expanded fleet of electrics. The all-new 8-series and the upcoming Z4 roadster show BMW exploring fresh styling directions while the driving character of the 2017 10Best Cars–winning M2/M240i reassures us that we’re not entirely forgotten amid all the chatter about autonomous vehicles. BMW continued its momentum by announcing this M8 GTE race car at the Frankfurt auto show, and it’s a beauty, complete with checkered-flag-pattern carbon fiber.

Despite having been revealed in concept form in July, the production 8-series is not actually scheduled to go on sale until late 2018 as a 2019 model. Luckily, we don’t have to wait that long to see its race-car variant in action. The M8 GTE will hit the track in next season’s FIA World Endurance Championship and North America’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. It will turn its first wheel in anger at the 2018 24 Hours of Daytona and later in the year will represent BMW’s return to competition at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

BMW M8 GTE

The GTE’s turbocharged engine will use the cylinder block and head from the production 4.4-liter engine, but racing rules restrict displacement to 4.0 liters. Varying slightly depending on the rules for each racing series, the V-8 powerplant will make more than 500 horsepower (it could produce something north of 600 horsepower in the production M8) and will use a six-speed sequential transmission with a Sachs carbon-fiber clutch. Power is managed with electric paddle shifters and a limited-slip differential.

For efficient development and precise design on the hand-built M8 GTE, BMW is using 3D printing and measurements and advanced digital simulations. Artificial intelligence allows BMW to instantly run various scenarios to tune attributes such traction control without ever leaving the lab. The 3D printing also speeds development by making parts available almost immediately for trial-and-error testing.

BMW M8 GTE

These technologies, along with advanced aerodynamic simulations and wind-tunnel tests, helped sculpt the GTE’s carbon-cored composite body and carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic (CFRP) exterior shell.  It is 196.1 inches long (not counting the wing), 80.6 inches wide, and 47.7 inches tall (which can vary depending on ride height), and has a 113.4-inch wheelbase. BMW claims the racer weighs just 2690 pounds.

The GTE rides on a multilink suspension at both front and rear and has four-way adjustable dampers at all four corners with adjustable anti-roll bars at both ends. It will run on a new design of 18-inch aerodynamic wheels (12.5 inches in front, 13.0 in the rear) wrapped in Michelin tires (30/68R-18 up front, 31/71R-18 in the rear).

When the GTE arrives in France next June, it will mark the first time a BMW factory team has competed at Le Mans since the M3 GT2, in 2011. It’s a tradition that began when a BMW 328 raced there in 1939; the company last claimed overall victory in 1999. Whether the GTE will live up to Munich’s high expectations remains to be seen, but there’s one thing we can tell already: It’ll look fantastic as an art car.

BMW-M8-GTE-REEL

2017 Frankfurt Auto Show Full Coverage

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