BMW is developing a racing version of its M8 performance car to compete in the World Endurance Championship (WEC) and 24 Hours of Le Mans from next year, and it has revealed the near-finished product at the Frankfurt motor show.
The M8 GTE, which is also due to race in North America's IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, took to the track for the first time early last month. It uses thoroughbred parts and bespoke bodywork long with a race-adjusted turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 engine and six-speed sequential gearbox.
Although the racing car's exterior is heavily altered for racing, it offers the first official glimpse of BMW's upcoming 8 Series model, which isn't due to be officially revealed until the Los Angeles motor show in December.
Racing regulations restrict the M8 GTE to around 500bhp, which is roughly 115bhp less than the anticipated output of the road-going M8. But the GTE’s more extreme chassis set-up and lower weight will ensure it is significantly faster on track.
BMW intends to use the M8’s racing involvements to boost development of the following M8 road car. The road car is due to be launched after the regular 8 Series.
The company's entry into next year’s WEC and Le Mans will pitch it against the likes of Ferrari, Aston Martin and Porsche for GTE class honours. The M8 GTE will overtake the M6 GT3 as the top contender in BMW's motorsport arm. It will be the first factory BMW to enter Le Mans since 2011.