BMW claimed its only outright victory at Le Mans in 1999
BMW has announced a global motorsport strategy that will include a return to the World Endurance Championship (WEC) with a new GT car and plans for a Formula E entry in partnership with Michael Andretti’s team for next season.
Its plans to re-enter WEC follows Autocar’s report last year that BMW was investigating a comeback, with a radical hydrogen-powered race car in 2018.
Motorsport boss Jens Marquardt said BMW’s return to Le Mans is something “we are particularly looking forward to”. He continued: “The way the WEC has developed so well makes us confident that there is a big future for GT racing.”
Meanwhile, BMW’s Formula E participation is intended to allow the brand to “familiarise itself with processes in this innovative series, and to check the possibility of a works involvement in the future” according to BMW, as the company considers entering a full team for the fifth season in 2018-2019.
Talking about BMW’s electric vehicle development, a member of BMW’s board of management, Klaus Frölich, said: “Electric mobility will continue to grow in importance. In the last 10 years, we have established a leading position in the automobile industry in this field with BMW i.
“Through our partnership with Andretti Formula E in the Formula E Championship, we will now additionally see a close interaction between motor racing and production development in our company, from which both departments will benefit.”
The company also confirmed it will continue to race in DTM and in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, as well as offering the customer racing programme in the GT3 and GT 4 categories in which the M4 GT4 will be added to the range of models available.
The Mini brand will continue to compete in the Dakar Rally, too, as part of Sven Quandt’s X-raid team.
Frölich said that motorsport would remain “a cornerstone within the BMW Group in the future. Everyone knows that BMW and motorsport are intrinsically linked.
“We are going head-to-head with our most important global competitors, whether through our works commitments or customer racing.”
BMW last competed in the WEC in 2011, when it fielded the M3 GT2. BMW retired from Formula 1 in 2009.
Porsche's Mark Webber, the reigning WEC title holder, welcomed BMW's entry into the championship: "That is great news. BMW is a sensational manufacturer and the more of that type of manufacturer WEC can attract, the better. In terms of the strength of the GTE class, it is in great shape."