This Saturday marks the end of an era. After four successful years, the BMW M8 GTE will contest its final race at the MOTUL Petit Le Mans endurance classic at Road Atlanta (USA). BMW Team RLL has competed with the BMW M8 GTE in the North American IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship since 2018. During these four years, the team has claimed five wins and a total of 25 podium finishes with the car. The undisputed highlights were the two back-to-back GTLM victories at the 24 Hours of Daytona (USA) in 2019 and 2020. They also won the Driver, Team and Manufacturer titles in the GTLM class in last year’s IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup.
And so it is time for the farewell performance. BMW Team RLL will once again run two MOTUL BMW M8 GTEs in the ten-hour MOTUL Petit Le Mans race on Saturday 13th November. The #24 car will be co-driven by John Edwards (USA), Jesse Krohn (FIN) and Augusto Farfus (BRA). Their team-mates Connor De Phillippi (USA), Bruno Spengler (CAN) and Philipp Eng (AUT) will alternate at the wheel of the #25 MOTUL BMW M8 GTE. The MOTUL Petit Le Mans is the fourth and final endurance race of the 2021 IMSA season. The title defence in the IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup is still possible in the Driver, Team and Manufacturer competitions. In preparation for the race, BMW Team RLL attended two successful tests at Road Atlanta.
Turner Motorsport runs the BMW M6 GT3 in the GTD class again. The team celebrated the Petit Le Mans GTD victory in 2019. This coming weekend, the the #96 BMW M6 GT3 will be co-driven by racing legend, BMW institution and IMSA record winner Bill Auberlen (USA), Robby Foley (USA) and Aidan Read (AUS).
Turner Motorsport competes in the final race of this season’s IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge on Friday 12th November. Auberlen and his team-mate Dillon Machavern (USA) lead the GS class in the #95 BMW M4 GT4 going into the season finale. Foley shares the cockpit of the #96 BMW M4 GT4 with Vincent Barletta (USA). They currently lie third in the GS class.
Farewell, and welcome to the future.
The farewell appearance of the BMW M8 GTE also marks the start of the future. The new BMW M4 GT3, which will take to the track all over the world as BMW M Motorsport’s new GT flagship from 2022, will be on display in the Fan Zone at the racetrack during the weekend.
Quotes ahead of the MOTUL Petit Le Mans:
Bobby Rahal (Team Principal BMW Team RLL): “Our racing programme with the BMW M8 GTE certainly was a great project for us. Winning the 24 Hours of Daytona not once, but twice has to be the highlight. And to be able to win it two years in a row is a tremendous comment about the BMW M8 GTE. We’ve had a lot of really good races with it. The M8 has been a fabulous car for us to race and it was really well done in terms of the design of it to begin with which I think is why it has been successful. All in all we have to look back fondly at our program history with the BMW M8 GTE and would like to end on a high note with victory at Petit Le Mans.”
John Edwards (BMW Team RLL, #24 MOTUL BMW M8 GTE): “It’s been a long break for us since Watkins Glen, so I’m itching to get back to racing! Last year’s Petit Le Mans proved the BMW M8 GTE was quick at Road Atlanta, but we sadly watched the win slip through our fingers in the last half hour after a prototype shoved Augusto off. This year we have a little extra motivation to take what was ours last year and end the final race for the BMW M8 GTE with a win! The M8 has given us some great performances over the years, but by far my most memorable race with the car will always be the 2020 Rolex 24 at Daytona, specifically my triple stint Sunday morning. The Porsches had proved to be quick in the night, but as the track temp started rising with the sun shining on it, our M8 came alive. I had a great battle with one of the Porsches, almost touching at 180mph as we fought for the lead. It was the most mentally exhausting stint I’ve driven in a race and the stakes were as high as they could get! We pulled off the win that day to give the BMW M8 GTE its second Daytona win in a row and proved that 2019 was no fluke. We will miss the M8!”
Jesse Krohn (BMW Team RLL, #24 MOTUL BMW M8 GTE): “Road Atlanta has been a good place for us in the last couple of years. We were really close to winning the race last year so we know the car can do it as long as we execute a clean race. It will be the last race for the BMW M8 GTE so I will try to enjoy every moment of it, and it would be awesome to send the car to retirement with one last win. It has been a privilege to have been a part of the GTLM project with the BMW M8 GTE for the past four years with BMW Team RLL and I have a lot of memories which I will cherish forever. The most important being the win at the 2020 Daytona 24h and being the driver bringing it home and passing the checkered flag after 24h of close racing. The car is a beast, and I will for sure miss driving it.”
Augusto Farfus (BMW Team RLL, #24 MOTUL BMW M8 GTE): “This will be a very emotional race for all of us as it is the end of the BMW M8 GTE era. Of course, we would all like to finish with the car as high on the podium as we can. Last year, we led until the last few minutes, finishing third after getting pushed off the circuit. Most importantly, I want to thank BMW for the opportunity to race such a wonderful car in a great series.”
Bruno Spengler (BMW Team RLL, #25 MOTUL BMW M8 GTE): “Road Atlanta has suited the BMW M8 GTE in past races so hopefully we will be in a position to fight for a good finish for the car’s final race. In fact, my best memory of the car is winning the six-hour race at the track with Connor in 2020. GTE has been a special category. The cars are great to drive with super tyres and no ABS. It reminded me a bit of a DTM car – with less downforce.”
Connor De Phillippi (BMW Team RLL, #25 MOTUL BMW M8 GTE): “Petit will be the final send off for our BMW M8 GTE and I know she is ready to go out in style. We had two great test days and the team came very close to winning the race last year. Road Atlanta suits the car well and I know if we run a mistake free race, we should have a shot to fight for a win one last time. The M8 program will forever have a special place in my heart since it was my first factory effort with BMW. The most memorable win together was definitely the Rolex 24 at Daytona in 2019. It was a very emotional win for not only BMW as a brand but also for myself with my family in attendance to see such a pinnacle moment in my career. It has been four fantastic years with highs and lows, but it has been some of the most fun I’ve had in motorsport. I will miss the GTLM era greatly, but I believe the future of our motorsport programmes is very bright.”
Philipp Eng (BMW Team RLL, #25 MOTUL BMW M8 GTE): “Petit Le Mans is one of my season highlights; the track is one of the best worldwide. We have been testing at Road Atlanta and were pushing the car forward. I would really wish that we can have a double victory at Petit Le Mans and focus on winning the Michelin Endurance Cup. BMW Team RLL and everyone involved would really deserve this success.”