BMW has competed – and won – in a wide array of motorsport disciplines. That includes the 24 Hours of Le Mans. It’s been about seven years since it last entered the famous endurance race, but that dry spell came to an end this weekend.
The Bavarian automaker had two of its new M8 GTEs running in the test session at the Circuit de la Sarthe this past weekend, in preparation for its return the race later this month. Between them, the two cars competed a total of 1,200 kilometers (>745 miles) over the course of the nine-hour test session.
This marked the first time that Bimmers ran (with factory support at any rate) at Le Mans since 2011 when an M3 GT2 placed second in the LMGTE Pro class. The only outright win that BMW has taken in the race was in 1999 with the V12 LMR, which beat the Toyota GT-One and Audi R8R to the finish line to claim the prize. The automaker did, however, also provide the motivation for the McLaren F1 GTR that won the race in ’95.
This year BMW won’t be competing for outright victory. And the team will have to overcome some early teething issues if it’s going to prove competitive in the GTE Pro class. It entered two cars in the season opener at Spa last month, finishing fifth and eighth behind Ford, Porsche, and Ferrari.
“It’s good to get our first kilometres of Le Mans under our belt,” said BMW Team MTEK principal Ernest Knoors. “The cars ran pretty much trouble-free, apart from some minor issues that we can resolve before race week. We completed 1,200 kilometres and gathered some good info, especially tyre-wise as the track evolves. We have more work to do but I’m pleased with today’s test.”