BMW put endurance to the test at Le Mans 24 Hours
The Le Mans 24 Hours, arguably one of motorsports toughest events. 24 hours of nerves, grit and determination. 24 hours of non stop driving around one of the most challenging race tracks on the face of the earth, the prize for those that make the distance, a place in the motorsport history books. Last weekend's event was the 86th running of the famous enduro. Every year teams and drivers from all over the motorsport world decent on the small French town to tackle the great race. Starting at 2 pm on Saturday, and ending on Sunday at the same time means the race plays out under the night skies which adds a further element of drama to the event. Le Mans is also very much a team sport as each car entered see’s its steering wheel shared between three drivers over the course of the event as they take it in turns to log laps on the board. Within the event itself, you see different categories of cars competing for their respective category honours. These four categories make space for various different types of race car meaning that there’s a vast array of machinery competing. The LMP1 category heads these and this year, current Formula One driver, Fernando Alonso was the main attraction as he took on the race behind the wheel of Toyota’s LMP1 car for the first time. Whilst Fernando Alonso was stealing the headlines, there was also another notable debutant at Le Mans over the weekend in the form of BMW who were returning to the event in the GTE Pro category. The car, developed purely for BMW’s return to motorsport’s World Endurance stage, was the all-new, BMW M8 GTE. Born out of an extensive winter programme of testing and development, the M8 GTE was conceived with the World Endurance Championship in mind and was built to take on the might of Porsche and Aston Martin and break their stranglehold at the top of the category. The machine is essentially a stripped out and heavily revised chassis that visually based on the new BMW 8 Series road car and weighing in at 1,250 kg it features a 4.0-Litre V8 M TwinPower Turbocharged engine which delivers over 500 bhp. Couple this to its intricate aerodynamic package and sticky Michelin slick tyres and you have a formidable race car. Off the back of some promising speed at the previous WEC round at Spa-Francorchamps there was reason for optimism for the BMW MTEK team as it’s car’s and drivers, Alexander Sims, Nick Catsburg, Augusto Farfus, Antonio Felix Da Costa, Martin Tomczyk, Tom Blomqvist and Philipp Eng turned out the first few laps of the week in practice. The car ran reliably throughout the week whilst showing consistent pace, however, this promise wasn’t to be sustained as unfortunately come the end of qualifying the two MTEK cars would find themselves down in 12th and 13th respectively within the GTE Pro category. Come race day the two M8 GTE cars made somewhat of a resurgent start and made very strong headway, keeping pace with the leading Porsche’s and mixing it with the Ford GT machines throughout the first quarter of the race. However, this strong performance wasn’t to be sustained as both cars encountered suspension problems. Thus scuppering any chance of being able to claw back time and challenge for a category podium, finishing in 36th and 53rd places overall respectively. Despite the Le Mas set back, the BMW M8 GTE looks set to become an accomplished race car and is the perfect halo to welcome in the brand new BMW 8 series road car. What the rest of the World Endurance Championship holds for the BMW team, only time will tell but one thing’s for sure, we very much look forward to getting a hold of the all-new 8 Series at Big Motoring World in the not so distant future.