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Flashy and Fast: BMW Shows off Look of New GTP Prototype

The BMW M Hybrid V8 Debuts at the Petersen Museum in Los Angeles, where the Drivers for 2023 Are Also Introduced


By Mark Robinson


DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – BMW took to its most important market Thursday night to unveil the look of the flashy new race car and core driver lineup that will compete in the new top prototype class of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in 2023.


With the famous Peterson Museum in Los Angeles as the backdrop, BMW M Motorsport revealed the livery of the BMW M Hybrid V8, the LMDh platform car that will race in the Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) class starting with the 61st Rolex 24 At Daytona on Jan. 28-29. A two-car effort fielded by BMW M Team RLL will compete in the entire WeatherTech Championship campaign with works drivers Connor De Phillippi, Philipp Eng, Augusto Farfus and Nick Yelloly. IndyCar driver and two-time Rolex 24 winner Colton Herta will join the lineup for the Rolex 24, with additional drivers for the 24-hour race to be named.


A noted lineup of dignitaries attended Thursday’s event, included BMW M CEO Franciscus van Meel, Head of BMW M Motorsport Andreas Roos, IMSA President John Doonan and BMW M Team RLL owners Bobby Rahal, David Letterman and Patrick Lanigan.


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“We are proud that, parallel to the 50th birthday of BMW M, we are returning to the big motorsport stage with the BMW M Hybrid V8,” van Meel said. “We are delighted that this adventure begins in North America, the most important international market for BMW M GmbH. After all, the BMW M Hybrid V8 is more than just a race car, it is paving the way for an electric future for BMW M, by emphatically demonstrating how dynamic and emotional electrified M Power can be.”


The BMW M Hybrid V8 will be powered by a twin-turbo V-8 internal combustion engine paired with the single-source hybrid powertrain common to all LMDh entries in the class. After first testing in Europe, the car ran its first American test laps earlier this week at Sebring International Raceway. BMW also will participate in upcoming IMSA-sanctioned tests at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta (Oct. 3-5) and Daytona International Speedway (Dec. 6-7).


“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,” Roos added. “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.”


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The design of the car’s livery for the 2023 racing season comes from BMW Group Designworks and features a future-facing coat of arms comprised of modern, bold, fractal blocks of the iconic M colors and the M logo. The design also features “Mbedded” references to the BMW logo, while also adding both blue and purple elements to highlight the natural colors of electricity in a nod to the hybrid power. Additionally, the works livery carries BMW M Motorsport’s now-signature matte black extension ahead of the cockpit beneath the driver’s side of the windscreen.


Even the hallmark BMW kidney grilles on the car use an exciting new lighting technology. Swiss company L.E.S.S. SA developed an alternative to LED lighting where light is generated by a nano-active optical fiber trigged by a laser. It provides ultra-bright and ultra-uniform light within a very small form factor, saving considerable weight and energy when embedded onto a car.


BMW M Team RLL will continue to use car numbers 24 and 25, as has been the case with the team’s entries this year in the GTD PRO class and the GT Le Mans (GTLM) class prior to that. De Phillippi and Yelloly will form one full-season pairing, with Eng and Farfus making up the other. De Phillippi has the most WeatherTech Championship wins among the group with five, including when he teamed with Eng, Farfus and Herta to win the Rolex 24’s GTLM class in 2019 with BMW M Team RLL. Farfus made it two in a row with the team the following year at the Rolex 24. Herta picked up a second Rolex 24 win this year in the Le Mans Prototype 2 class.


“To represent BMW M Motorsport again at the top level and to be involved in the start of this new era of motorsport is a unique opportunity and a great honor for me,” Farfus said. “This exciting project is one of the highlights of my career. The opposition is very strong and we will learn a lot in our first year. However, I think we have everything in place to achieve good results from the start. We are definitely working hard to make that possible.”