We’ve been waiting patiently for the fantastic 8-series halo car to return to BMW’s lineup. Too patiently. We’ve devolved into madness, drooling over retrowave 8 series videos just to hold us over. But it’s here! It’s finally here! Here is the new M8 GTE race car BMW is taking to the 24 Hours of Le Mans—the marque’s first Le Mans entry since 2011.
The M8 GTE features a twin-turbo 4.0-liter V8 up front that cranks out over 500 horsepower in race trim and is based on the upcoming 8-series platform. The cylinder block and cylinder head are directly shared with that upcoming 8-series road car’s engine. A six-speed sequential racing transmission feeds that power to the car’s wheels.
The car itself weighs a mere 2,690 lbs through the extensive use of ultralight carbon fiber reinforced polymer components, and measures 16.3 feet long and 6.7 feet wide.
BMW announced at the Frankfurt Motor Show that development of this car in its various racing series will go into the upcoming roadgoing 8-series, and they’ve already been testing it out on the Lausitzring.
That’s not the only interesting part of the 8 series’ development, however. BMW says that they used artificial intelligence to help develop the M8 GTE’s traction control. 3D printing was also used to develop components for the M8 GTE faster than ever. A new algorithm they used in computational fluid dynamics calculations allowed them to run through more simulations than ever before the M8 GTE ever got to a wind tunnel. A 3D measurement system developed for BMW’s DTM car will help them produce components for the M8 GTE and assemble it by hand with absurd precision.
Best of all, it looks fantastic, which is a good sign for the upcoming production 8er. BMW says that it shares the same roofline, front and rear lights as the production car.
The new M8 race car won’t just be heading to the World Endurance Championship and Le Mans in 2018 as previously announced, but it will also run in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in 2018, starting with next year’s 24 Hours of Daytona.
That’s probably for the best, since the M6 GTLM there is getting long in the tooth and the World Endurance Championship’s full-season schedule (which includes Le Mans) is going to be super weird for the next couple of years.
But while the World Endurance Championship’s top prototype class may be a hot mess at the moment, their GT classes seem to be doing all right. It’s hard not to see why: BMW can point directly at the M8 GTE and go, “we sell that car to you, our lovely and wonderful blinker-averse customers.”
Either way, this thing looks so cool that it’s hard not to be excited about it. It took far too long for the outgoing M6 GTLM to become competitive, so there’s not a lot of love lost to see that one get retired. Starting the year off at Daytona before making a Le Mans run worked extremely well when Ford did it with the new Ford GT race car, so here’s hoping the M8 GTE also gets up to speed fast.
Here are the pretty official photos of the new M8 GTE that BMW released today as well: